Developers have millennials in mind in Des Plaines

  • This rendering shows the 270-unit apartment building proposed as part of a larger development in Des Plaines.

    This rendering shows the 270-unit apartment building proposed as part of a larger development in Des Plaines. Courtesy of Dearborn-Buckingham

  • The Littelfuse site at 800 E. Northwest Highway in Des Plaines sits vacant, but a developer is proposing to build a mix of townhouses and apartments.

      The Littelfuse site at 800 E. Northwest Highway in Des Plaines sits vacant, but a developer is proposing to build a mix of townhouses and apartments. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted6/19/2015 5:30 AM

A developer is proposing a mix of townhouses and apartments targeting millennials at a vacant 20-acre former industrial site northwest of downtown Des Plaines.

The $90 million residential development proposed for the former Littelfuse property at 800 E. Northwest Highway calls for 127 townhouses and a 5-story apartment building with 270 units in what is being called a transit-oriented development because of its proximity to the Cumberland Metra station.

 

Some 30 nearby residents and local officials got a look at the latest plans during a meeting Thursday night hosted by 7th Ward Alderman Don Smith at the Frisbee Senior Center.

Officials with Dearborn-Buckingham, the developer, hope to lure young people to the apartments because of how close they would be to the train station, but also because of building amenities like a fitness spa, a lounge with pool tables and a common area kitchen offering free coffee in the morning. A courtyard would have barbecue grills, seating and a water feature.

It's all part of the "collegial environment" developers are trying to set up, said Chris Coleman, Dearborn-Buckingham's president.

More than half the 270 apartment units would be one-bedrooms, with about 100 two-bedroom units and 20 studios.

But some residents at the meeting were skeptical the targeted audience would settle in downtown Des Plaines because of the S-curve of Northwest Highway under the Canadian National Railway bridge.

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George Sakas, the city's director of community and economic development, said it literally would take an act of Congress and Canadian Parliament, as well as tens of millions of dollars, to redo the bridge to make Northwest Highway more bike- and pedestrian-friendly in that location.

More than half the townhouses would have two bedrooms, and all would have two-car garages.

Rent for the apartments would start at $1,200 a month. The townhouses would be priced between $300,000 and $350,000.

The site has sat vacant since Littelfuse, an electrical manufacturer, relocated in 2008.

Coleman said the site has been challenging to develop because of its triangle shape, and a 50-foot-wide Metropolitan Water Reclamation District easement that bisects the property.

"We can cross that easement, pave on it, and plant on it, but we can't build on it," Coleman said.

The city council has final say on the project. The earliest aldermen could take up the issue is July 20. If approved, development of the townhouses could begin as soon as this fall, and the apartment building next spring.

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