Mount Prospect candidates talk about downtown proposal
Village board candidates are expressing a mix of optimism and concern about a proposal to bring a mixed-use, "transit-oriented" development to downtown Mount Prospect.
Six hopefuls are running for three seats on the village board during the April 2 election. Incumbents Paul Hoefert, Richard Rogers and Colleen Saccotelli, and newcomers Yulia Bjekic and Agostino "Augie" Filippone will appear on the ballot.
Meanwhile, Jeff Nejdl is running as a write-in candidate.
During a forum on Saturday, the candidates were asked if they support the Maple Street Lofts, a plan to build an apartment building, row houses and retail space at 215-225 E. Prospect Ave.
The village is yet to review the proposal, officials said. But Rogers said there was one meeting where the developer showed a plan that included an eight-story building.
A building that tall "is never going to happen in Mount Prospect," said Rogers, adding that structures in the village should be no taller than six stories.
Still, Rogers said development of the site would create an opportunity to improve the infrastructure around the area.
Hoefert said he's already stated publicly that he's "very concerned" about the level of density.
"I would say, though, that even the people that are opposed to Maple Street Lofts at this point would like to see development on that site," Hoefert said.
He said whatever is built will need to be "appropriately scaled." He said he worries about increasing traffic congestion in the downtown and having more motorists use residential streets.
"So we have to solve for these problems before we build this," Hoefert said. "You don't build something and then solve it."
Saccotelli acknowledges there would be traffic issues. But she said there are things that can be done to address them, including adjusting traffic light timing and traffic-calming measures.
Still, she said density is needed in the downtown.
"Businesses cannot come here -- they're not interested in relocating to the downtown -- unless there's a base of people to support their businesses," Saccotelli said. "So we need more people in the downtown."
But Bjekic says Mount Prospect is looking to bring hundreds of residential and rental units to the downtown. Des Plaines also wants to add hundreds of units, she said.
"As someone who always wants to understand the supply and demand side of things," she said, "I'm worried whether or not we will be able to create enough demand for that many residents."
Bjekic said she wants village to be "very deliberate and very thoughtful" about how it approaches economic development in the downtown.
Nejdl said he likes a part of the plan that calls for a parking garage for train commuters. "I want to make sure that the parking garage is looked into for safety reasons," he said, speaking to parking issues in the downtown.
Filippone, a member of the village's planning and zoning commission, said he'll form an opinion about the Maple Street Lofts when the commission reviews the project.
"When it does come in front of me, I'm going to review the facts," he said. "I'm going to listen to the developer. I'm going to listen to the residents. And I'm going to make a decision."