Controversial apartment building plan moves forward in Des Plaines

Despite opposition from many residents, a plan to construct a seven-story apartment building in Des Plaines took a key step forward Monday night.

After more than two hours of discussion, the city council tentatively voted to rezone the land on the northwest corner of Graceland and Webford avenues to formally make it part of the city's central business district. A final vote is expected Aug. 1.

Barrington-based Compasspoint Development envisions 131 apartments, a restaurant and lounge and a 179-space parking garage.

Rezoning has been requested because buildings that tall aren't currently allowed on the site, which is zoned for general commercial uses. Taller buildings are allowed in the central business district.

Mayor Andrew Goczkowski was among the city officials who spoke in favor of the plan Monday. He said Des Plaines' rising population is a sign people want to move to the city - and indicative that more housing is needed.

Goczkowski also noted the apartment building would bring potential customers to the downtown area - something merchants and officials long have wanted.

"This helps to create and sustain a vibrant downtown," he said.

But public opposition has been significant, particularly from homeowners in the neighborhood. Foes have expressed concerns about traffic, safety, and neighborhood aesthetics.

The audience at Monday's meeting was filled with people holding up colorful signs against the plan, and many spoke before the council's vote.

(People) don't want any more high-rise development, especially in a residential area," former Alderman Pat Beauvais said.

Resident Marian Cosmides called the plan "oversized and completely inappropriate."

One audience member and representatives of the development team spoke in favor of the plan.

The Journal & Topics Media Group's building sits on the land now and would be razed if the plan progresses.

A city-owned public parking lot is on the site, too. The developer wants to purchase the lot for $300,000.

A separate vote on the land purchase was anticipated Monday but delayed until Aug. 1.

At the behest of Alderman Sean Oskerka, whose 3rd Ward includes the proposed construction site, an amendment was added to the rezoning plan Monday that says the land would revert to its current zoning designation if Compasspoint doesn't construct the building.

Oskerka was the only alderman to vote against rezoning the property.

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