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updated: 4/30/2019 5:52 AM

'There's a lot at stake here': Arlington 425 project debate stalls on affordable housing

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  • A sketch shows the proposed Arlington 425 development of three buildings with heights up to 13 stories on the northern three-quarters of an empty block in downtown Arlington Heights.

    A sketch shows the proposed Arlington 425 development of three buildings with heights up to 13 stories on the northern three-quarters of an empty block in downtown Arlington Heights.
    Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights

  • Attorney Mike Firsel, right, addresses the audience Monday at a Arlington Heights housing commission meeting about the proposed Arlington 425 development that he represents.

    Attorney Mike Firsel, right, addresses the audience Monday at a Arlington Heights housing commission meeting about the proposed Arlington 425 development that he represents.
    Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 

An Arlington Heights advisory panel wants to see more of the financials of the proposed Arlington 425 downtown development before recommending how many residential units should be rented at below-market rates.

The housing commission spent more than three hours Monday night listening to public comment and negotiating in open session with developer Bruce Adreani of CCH, LLC, who countered the village staff's proposal on less costly units in the 361-unit project.

CCH has suggested providing a mix of 18 studio and one-bedroom units within at least two of the three buildings proposed for a residential and commercial campus on the west side of downtown. Arlington 425 would be on the northern three-quarters of the long-vacant Block 425 parcel -- bounded by Campbell Street, Highland Avenue, Sigwalt Street and Chestnut Avenue.

The key sticking point between the developer and the staff from the village's community development department is how those 18 units should be priced.

Village officials have suggested the apartments be priced for those making at or below 60% of the area median income, which would equate to a single person making $35,580 in a year. They say that would help Arlington Heights remain within the state standard of having at least 10% of housing stock villagewide kept as affordable.

The developer has countered the units should be priced for those with 80% of area median income, or a single person making $47,400. CCH officials say rents at lower levels would affect the economics of the $150 million project, such as hindering cash flow and the ability to obtain financing.

"If it's 60 percent, it's not going to work," Adreani told members of the housing commission during the give-and-take Monday night. "It'll be a dog poop park for the rest of the time. The bank will laugh me out of the bank."

"There's a lot at stake here," he continued. "We're trying to be a good steward of the property."

As part of the deal, the developer has also agreed to the village's request to provide fees in lieu of nine units at $25,000 per unit, for a total of $225,000.

In an attempt to broker a deal, housing commission member Mark Hellner suggested that instead of the fees paid upfront to a village trust fund, the developer provide those nine actual units instead at 80 percent of area median income. Hellner said that would allow costs for the developer to be spread out over time.

CCH attorney Mike Firsel gave that a hard "no."

Commissioners Andrew Tripp and Will Delea sought more details from the developer about the project's projected cash flow, revenue and expenses before making a judgment on the various proposals on the table.

Firsel said he would provide some of that info to the village staff to share with the commission. That panel is a recommending body to the village board, which makes the ultimate decision on the overall project.

The board was set to consider the Arlington 425 project next Monday, May 6, but officials said late Monday it's unclear if the project will still come before the board that night with the housing recommendation still in limbo.