Des Plaines gives early go-ahead for senior apartments over neighbors' opposition
A proposed senior living community in Des Plaines opposed by its potential neighbors has narrowly cleared a major hurdle toward approval from city leaders.
Aldermen gave preliminary approval Monday for Blue Sky Residence, a proposed 67-unit apartment community for seniors, to be built on the 900 block of North Avenue, between Second and Third avenues.
The plans gained early approval despite neighbors' filing a protest, requiring a supermajority of six aldermen. Aldermen approved the project with a 6-2 vote, with Jack Robinson and Carla Brookman casting the "no" votes.
It was the third time that real estate firm Pontarelli Cos. sought approval for the apartment community for residents 62 and older. Dan Pontarelli, the owner of the company, said the firm made changes to address the concerns of residents and aldermen.
"This particular type of housing is very strong in demand right now," Pontarelli said. "This in no way is a licensed health care facility. I call it somewhat of a resort living (community) for seniors."
Those who live in the surrounding neighborhood have strongly opposed the development. For about three hours Monday, they voiced complaints about increased traffic, worries that the development will change the character of their neighborhood of single-family homes, and fears it will decrease property values.
Lawrence Thompson, an attorney for several of the residents, said the apartment building is being shoehorned into the neighborhood.
"This throws a nonconforming use right in the middle of (the neighborhood), and the only explanation for that is 'Why not?'" Thompson said.
But developers say there's good reason for building on the 3.5-acre site. They say the apartments would transform a blighted area previously occupied by industrial users. Plus, they argue, there's not enough demand to build single-family homes there.
Plans for the project include 67 one-bedroom apartments in a single building that ranges from two to three stories tall. An landscaped rooftop deck is proposed for the front part of the third story.
Other proposed amenities include a craft room, wine room, lobby, exercise room, sauna and multipurpose room with a kitchenette. Outside, plans include a putting green, a bocce court, a fire pit and a walking path.
Another council vote on the project is expected in two weeks.