Romanian heritage center plan rejected in Des Plaines

  • A nonprofit group wanted to open a Romanian Heritage Center in this building on Broadway Street in Des Plaines, but the city council rejected the plan Monday because of concerns about parking.

    A nonprofit group wanted to open a Romanian Heritage Center in this building on Broadway Street in Des Plaines, but the city council rejected the plan Monday because of concerns about parking. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/3/2021 3:30 PM

A faith-based group's proposal to open a Romanian heritage center in Des Plaines was rejected by the city council Monday.

Aldermen didn't object to the concept -- only the relative dearth of parking at the proposed site and the anticipated effect that it would have on available street parking spots in the neighborhood.

 

Before the vote, several people who live in the neighborhood being considered for the center expressed fears about a possible street-parking shortage, littering and other issues.

The operation was proposed for a one-story commercial building on the 0-100 block of Broadway Street, which is in the 7th Ward. The building, which isn't far from the Cumberland Circle roundabout, contains four vacant storefronts.

An Arlington Heights-based, nonprofit group called Romanian Heritage Center NFP was behind the plan. The group's leaders include people "who represent all the Christian denominations of our community," according to its website.

Language classes, heritage classes, Bible study and a reading club were proposed for the center, as well as occasional large events on weekends.

But the building doesn't have the minimum number of parking spots required by city code. The group needed a conditional use permit from the city to operate -- and that's what the council rejected Monday.

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Parking was an issue when the proposal first was reviewed by the council in July, too.

Alderman Malcom Chester, chair of the community development committee, urged the group to find another site in the city.

"(The vote) shouldn't be the end of the discussion," Chester said. "At the end of the day, we want you in our city."

Steven Bonica, president and executive director of the group, vowed to fight the decision unless Des Plaines officials could locate a comparable and affordable space.

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