The Arlington 425 project at Highland Avenue and Campbell Street started out as a mystery development with an announcement in September 2018 about an open house. Invitations about the open house were sent to area business owners and residents, and the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce sent an email blast from the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. The invitation was also posted on the development’s website arlington425.com.
For the people that live on the west side of Chestnut Avenue between Sigwalt Street and Campbell Street: Surprise, you might own the first single-family homes in Arlington Heights that are located directly across the street from high-rise buildings. No buffer, just directly in the shadow of a 9-story building, a 4-story building and a 13-story building. Mike Firsel of CCH LLC is proposing to develop the three-building complex on the block of Campbell Street, Highland Avenue and Chestnut Avenue.
On April 10, 2019, the project received unanimous approval by the Arlington Heights Plan Commission with some concerns about parking.
Next, the Arlington 425 downtown project goes before the village’s Housing Commission at 7:00 p.m. Monday, April 29, 2019 in the Buechner Room of Village Hall for a discussion on affordable housing options regarding the three-building development proposal.
The meeting is scheduled to discuss affordable housing options for the planned unit development (PUD). Arlington Heights has an Affordable Housing Policy of 15%, which would mean 54 units of the proposed 361-unit, mixed-use complex, would need to be affordable in perpetuity.
While a Fee in Lieu of affordable units is an option, according to minutes of the December 12, 2018 Conceptual Plan Review Committee, “The petitioner is well aware of the Village Board’s recent preference for seeing affordable units within new developments as opposed to the fee in lieu of these units.”
While there is a need for affordable housing in Arlington Heights, there are residents concerned about the effects of affordable housing in downtown Arlington Heights, especially in close proximity to long-standing single-family neighborhoods.
One of the most recent residential buildings in Arlington Heights and the most recent building built in downtown Arlington Heights with affordable housing is the Parkview apartment building at 212 North Dunton Avenue. Parkview has 45 units of mixed-income housing for individuals and families. Multiple residents, neighbors and other sources with knowledge of circumstance regarding Parkview, and who prefer to remain anonymous at this time, report that …
1) the building has frequent visits from the police,
2) there is already significant damage inside the building including holes punched in walls, and
3) human and/or dog feces have been discovered in common areas or inside or near apartment units.
Some neighbor sources have reported being alarmed at the rapid decline of the facilities inside the building, and attribute the issues related to the building as connected with the availability of affordable housing at the Parkview apartment building. Arlington Cardinal has not been able to independently confirm these reports.
The building is beautiful from the outside, so it is difficult to believe some of these reports. However, sources at this time prefer to remain anonymous for fear of being labeled racist or discriminatory, or of losing their jobs.
One of the high profile police incidents connected to the Parkview building was a domestic battery case that occurred on March 18, 2019. A male resident in the building, who lives with his grandmother, was accused of battering his grandmother. When he was apprehended by police blocks away, he resisted arrest and attempted to grab a police officer’s firearm, but was subdued with a Taser, according to police.
One insider with the Village of Arlington Heights, who also wants to remain anonymous, described the situation with Parkview as alarming, verging on out of control, and worse than expected. Also, the residents who reported the issues with Parkview said they want the Village of Arlington Heights to be straightforward and explain affordable housing and the variety of types of affordable housing available. If they don’t get that transparency from the Village of Arlington Heights, they don’t want the Arlington 425 building to be built. While the Village of Arlington Heights may have made a mistake with Parkview, they don’t want the same mistake to happen again with Arlington 425. The Village of Arlington Heights has not officially acknowledged any problems with the Parkview apartment building.
There are different types of affordable housing programs and funding programs, but the Village of Arlington Heights, the Village Board and the Housing Commission have not detailed how the process of affordable housing works in the context of building and financing new multi-family residences, and ultimately achieving affordable housing for qualified individuals and families. There has also not been any public discussion of safety checks or educational programs to help low income families acclimate to their new housing arrangements. Additionally, there has been no transparency from the Village of Arlington Heights regarding how the police department evaluates issues or attempts to prevent or manage increased criminal activity in new housing arrangements while promoting public safety for all residents.
So far information regarding affordable housing in Arlington 425 has focused only on financial viability.
In a December 20, 2018 Letter from the developer of Arlington 425 — their first formal response to the Village’s affordable housing guidelines –– the developer stated that they were “committed to promoting affordability in private housing within the Village.” According to a staff report from Nora Boyer (Housing Planner) the developer further stated that due to the cost of development they would be unable to finance and ultimately sell the development with 54 affordable units. Instead, the developer committed to providing 15 affordable units in the development.
In a February 8, 2019 Letter, the developer provided additional details stating that the proposed 15 affordable units would be studio and one-bedroom units located in all three buildings. The developer further stated that they reserved the right to allocate the units among the buildings; that unit sizes would equate to the average unit types and sizes in each of the buildings; and the number of affordable units would be reduced to 13 if the building facing Chestnut is developed as a condominium project.
In an April 4, 2019 Letter, the developer’s current response to the affordable housing guidelines states that they would provide actual affordable units and/or provide payments in lieu (or a combination) equivalent to 27 units (rather than 54) with the actual number of units, payments in lieu of units, allocation of units among buildings; and other considerations to be discussed with the Housing Commission.
Following the Housing Commission meeting, the project will move to the village board for consideration of final approval.
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