The proposed $150 million Arlington 425 project -- which will transform the face of downtown Arlington Heights and be the largest development in some two decades in town -- got a seal of approval Monday from the village board.
The 8-0 vote Monday night came at the conclusion of a more than three-hour special board meeting, which followed at least two meetings each by the village's plan, design and housing commissions since December, and some two years of planning.
The three-building residential and commercial campus -- proposed for the northern three-quarters of the vacant parcel bounded by Campbell Street, Highland Avenue, Sigwalt Street and Chestnut Avenue -- will be built on long-vacant land that once was home to Paddock Publications, owner of the Daily Herald.
Developer Bruce Adreani of CCH LLC purchased the nearly 3-acre site in 2000, but development was at a standstill amid economic downturns, he said.
Mayor Tom Hayes said Monday's decision by the board came in a succession of votes by previous boards that took "political courage" -- especially the 1984 approval of the first downtown high-rise, Dunton Tower.
"It takes some courage to make these decisions, but it's incumbent on us to fulfill the vision of those who came before us," Hayes said.
The project calls for a four-story, 54-unit residential building facing Chestnut; a nine-story, 182-unit apartment building with commercial space on the bottom two floors on Campbell; and a 13-story, 125-unit apartment building on Highland that would include a six-story parking garage.
The board gave four zoning approvals -- including a planned unit development approval to allow the 361-unit mixed-use residential project -- and seven variations. Trustee Jim Tinaglia, whose Tinaglia Architects firm designed the project, recused himself from the discussion and vote.
The board also sided with a housing plan negotiated and agreed to by the village community development department and developer: that 18 of the development's proposed 361 units be priced for those making at or below 60% of the area median income, while the developer would offer fees to a village housing trust fund in lieu of nine units at $25,000 per unit, for a total of $225,000.
Last week, the village's housing commission endorsed that plan, though it also expressed a "preference" that no fees be paid at all and rather that nine more units be provided and priced for those making at or below 80% of the area median income.
Some trustees said Monday they also favored additional brick-and-mortar units but agreed 18 was better than none.
The 18 studio and one-bedroom units at below-market rates would be in the Campbell and Highland apartment buildings. A studio would rent for $889 under the affordability standard, and $1,385 otherwise.
About a dozen residents also spoke during public comment Monday, some welcoming the project for how it could help improve the vibrancy of the downtown, while others arguing it is too dense and too tall as proposed.
The 2007 downtown master plan calls for buildings on the block to be six to eight stories high. Village Manager Randy Recklaus said the developer could have easily proposed three buildings at eight stories each, so the 13-story building is "a bit of a trade-off."
"We feel it's in character with what (the plan) recommended," he said.
Construction wouldn't begin until at least next spring -- first on the Highland and Campbell buildings, then on the Chestnut building. The developer still needs to complete final plans, secure financing and get permits. In total, it could take up to four years to be developed.