Housing panel prefers more affordable units, not fees for Arlington 425 development

  • A sketch shows the proposed Arlington 425 development of three buildings where the housing commission recommended Monday that up to 27 of 361 residential units be at rents below market rates.

    A sketch shows the proposed Arlington 425 development of three buildings where the housing commission recommended Monday that up to 27 of 361 residential units be at rents below market rates. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights

 
 
Posted5/7/2019 5:33 AM

An Arlington Heights panel is OK with a plan for 18 units at below-market rents in the proposed Arlington 425 development, but it would also prefer that the developer include an additional nine units at lower rents.

The village's housing commission Monday night issued a two-pronged recommendation to the village board that endorses the plan agreed to by the village community development department and developer CCH, LLC:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• That 18 of the development's proposed 361 units be priced for those making at or below 60% of the area median income, while the developer would offer fees to a village housing trust fund in lieu of nine units at $25,000 per unit, for a total of $225,000.

• But the commission also expressed a "preference" for no fees to be paid at all; instead, commissioners said nine more units should be provided and priced for those making at or below 80% of the area median income.

The panel, which evaluates the housing mix in proposed multifamily housing developments, voted 4-0 to forward its recommendation to the village board. The board will consider Arlington 425, a three-building residential and commercial campus proposed for the long-vacant downtown Block 425, during a special meeting on Monday, May 13. The start time is still to be determined.

Housing Commissioner Mark Hellner pushed for the modified motion giving preference to additional units versus fees in lieu, arguing that gross revenue created by the development in the first few years will absorb a projected cash flow loss of $500 per below-market-rate unit, per year.

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"It's more helpful to the community and I don't think it's as burdensome to the developer," Hellner said.

Mike Firsel, attorney for developer Bruce Adreani, countered that revenue projections are still unknown, while he also expects a large increase in taxes after the area is reassessed. Firsel argued the economics of the $150 million project don't warrant more than 18 units priced below the market.

The developer previously sought an 80% standard for the initial 18 units during the housing commission's first meeting on the topic April 29 but came to agreement with the village staff after further negotiations.

"We've agreed to what the staff has proposed. We all know what the alternative is, OK?" said Firsel, suggesting the developer could walk away from the project.

The more affordable units are proposed for a nine-story, 182-unit apartment building on Campbell Street and a 13-story, 125-unit apartment building on Highland Avenue. They wouldn't be included in a four-story, 54-unit residential building facing Chestnut Avenue.

Under the affordability standard, rent for a studio would be $889, versus $1,385 at market rate.

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