Low-income housing plan for Campana building concerns some neighbors

 
 
Updated 8/3/2017 6:13 AM
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  • A large crowd gathered as a developer for Evergreen Real Estate Group made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia city hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

      A large crowd gathered as a developer for Evergreen Real Estate Group made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia city hall on proposed plans for the Campana building. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comDavid Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

    Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comDavid Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

  • Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comDavid Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building. Here, a rendering of the proposed appearance of an apartment. Note the proposed preservation of existing glass block in the unit.

    Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comDavid Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building. Here, a rendering of the proposed appearance of an apartment. Note the proposed preservation of existing glass block in the unit.

  • Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comA large crowd gathered as David Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

    Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comA large crowd gathered as David Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

  • Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comDavid Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

    Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.comDavid Block, director of development for Evergreen Real Estate Group, made a Wednesday evening presentation to a plan commission meeting at Batavia City Hall on proposed plans for the Campana building.

Speaker after speaker from Geneva told the Batavia plan commission Wednesday night they are worried putting 80 apartments in the Campana building will make the intersection of Route 31 and Fabyan Parkway more dangerous.

And at least a half-dozen speakers told the commission they are concerned that 64 of those apartments would be reserved for affordable or low-income housing.

The commission began the public hearing on the proposal before several hundred people.

It decided to hear the audience members' questions Wednesday and not discuss them or have the developer answer them until the hearing reconvenes at 7 p.m. Aug. 16.

Evergreen Real Estate Group, which would buy the property and build the apartments, needs permission from Batavia to vary from city laws about the required amount of parking and about the kind of windows allowed in residential units. It also needs some relief from landscaping requirements.

The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in the Art Moderne and Bauhaus styles. One of its striking features is the horizontal strips of glass-block windows, containing at least 80,000 blocks. Federal and state historic-preservation agencies have said the glass-block windows would have to remain. But Batavia code says residences must have vision glass.

People mostly talked about traffic. Residents of the Allendale subdivision in Geneva, directly west of the building, hired a traffic engineer to study the developer's traffic study. They have also hired a lawyer.

And the executive director of The Holmstad, a senior-living community across Fabyan, said she worries that if Campana's Fabyan access drive is restricted to right-turn-only, drivers will make U-turns in the Holmstad's driveway, endangering her residents.

Other people expressed concern that having low-income housing will drive down the value of their properties, and that the developer has underestimated the number of children who would live there and attend school.

And former Geneva Alderman Tom Simonian, whose ward was adjacent to Campana and who owns properties in Batavia, said that if the project is approved, he wanted the housing reserved for residents of Batavia, Geneva or St. Charles.

"I don't want to see the Aurora Housing Authority manage this process (housing vouchers) or the city of Chicago or anybody else," Simonian said.

Batavia has an agreement with the Aurora Housing Authority that allows people who obtain housing vouchers from the authority to use them for housing in Batavia.

Some did speak in favor of the project, including a representative from the Association for Individual Development and a Geneva resident who is on that city's Mental Health Board.

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