Expansion could house more low-income seniors in Naperville

Low-income housing and senior housing both took a step forward Wednesday in Naperville.

The city's planning and zoning commission unanimously approved a proposal from Naperville Elderly Homes to build 68 more apartments for seniors who can't afford anywhere else to live.

The plan would bring a new five-story wing attached to a 121-unit senior housing complex that has already stood at 310 Martin Ave. for 44 years.

Planning and zoning commissioners said there isn't enough senior housing in Naperville to meet the need, which is growing as the population ages. So the panel was happy to support the addition, despite its need for variations to code requirements for parking, density, building height and setbacks from lot lines.

"I think it's a great project," commissioner Robert Hajek said. "Tasteful, well-done, well-thought-out, well-networked with the community and definitely something we need."

Dave Weeks, president of the board of Naperville Elderly Homes, said the addition is estimated to cost $16 million. The organization has secured a $1 million grant from the DuPage County Home Advisory Group and hopes to get roughly two-thirds of the remainder of the funding from an application to a federal low-income housing tax credit program.

Building the addition will help Naperville Elderly Homes serve more than 100 seniors on its waiting list, which is at least two years long for a one-bedroom apartment.

"This is not a need that's going away," said Russ Whitaker, the attorney representing Naperville Elderly Homes. "If the project isn't timely now, it's only because it's long overdue."

To live at Naperville Elderly homes, residents must be 62 or older and must make less than $43,000 a year for one person or $49,200 a year for two people. The average resident is 75 years old and pays between $25 and $506 a month in rent, depending on income.

"We think that there are a lot of people in Naperville who would like to have a place where their parents can live on their own, independently, but they have very, very limited finances," Weeks said. "And that's what we're trying to do."

The addition will next be evaluated by the city's building review board because its design does not comply with a regulation to use at least 50 percent of masonry materials on the exterior.

But planning and zoning commission members praised the modern addition designed by Worn Jerabek Wiltse Architects of Chicago.

"I think the second building is actually going to spruce the first building up a little bit," Chairwoman Kamala Martinez said.

Pending approval May 17 from the building review board, the plan then can head to the city council for the final green light.

Weeks said he hopes the addition can be completed by 2019.

"The motives here are truly altruistic," Whitaker said, "and the demand in the community is unquestioned."

With three-year waiting lists, Naperville Elderly Homes wants to add 60 units

  A rendering displayed during a planning and zoning commission hearing Wednesday in Naperville shows a proposed five-story addition that would bring 68 new low-income, senior apartments to Naperville Elderly Homes. The plan got unanimous approval from the commission and now can be considered by the building review board and the city council. Marie Wilson/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.