Des Plaines approves apartments for disabled
An apartment building for people with physical disabilities won approval Monday night from Des Plaines aldermen, following their rejection of larger building plans last June.
Over the Rainbow, an Evanston-based nonprofit, is proposing construction of a four-story, 33-unit apartment building at 751 Graceland Ave. on the south side of downtown Des Plaines.
The organization scaled back its original plans, reducing the number of apartment units from 40 to 33, while taking off an entire floor (from five stories to four).
The group sought zoning variations for parking -- to have up to 33 parking spaces in lieu of the 66 required by code -- and permission to build on a lot of 22,044 square feet, instead of 23,100 square feet.
The council voted 6-1 on an initial first reading vote to grant the variances, and 6-2 on a final second reading vote -- typically taken at the next council meeting but advanced to Monday night's meeting by Alderman Jack Robinson, whose 2nd Ward boundaries include the project. Alderman Jim Brookman voted "no" both times, and Alderman Patti Haugeberg voted "no" on second reading.
"Des Plaines has been and should continue to be a diverse and accepting community," said Mayor Matt Bogusz, who voted "yes" in the second reading vote. "I think we should partner with anyone who wants to move here, and be respectful of everybody whether or not you have a physical handicap or not."
Brookman echoed his earlier concerns with the original project -- that the property could change hands in the future and the apartments wouldn't have enough parking.
Supporters of the project have said many of those physically disabled who would live in the apartments wouldn't have cars, so there isn't a need for as much parking.
"The parking is adequate for their use," Brookman said. "The problem is the future."
Eric Huffman, Over The Rainbow's executive director, told aldermen the organization's oldest building is 41 years old. The group manages 10 similar properties throughout the Chicago area. "We'll be around for a long time," Huffman said. "We'll take good care of that building. I promise that."
Construction is slated to begin next spring and could be complete by early 2017.