South Elgin apartments proposal not a done deal
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News August 7, 2012 4:46PM
Artist’s rendering of a 50-unit affordable housing apartment building in South Elgin for Association for Individual Development clients and other qualifying residents. | Photo courtesy~Allen+Pepa Architects
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:08AM
SOUTH ELGIN — A proposed 50-unit affordable-housing apartment development along the Fox River for people with disabilities and income-eligible residents might be closer to reality, now that Gov. Pat Quinn has committed state funds for qualifying projects.
But while state funding might be available, developers of the Water’s Edge of South Elgin said this week that it will be awhile before further village approval is requested.
“We have a concept plan and nothing further,” said Tracey Manning of The Burton Foundation.
That Sterling-based nonprofit group is working with the Association for Individual Development of Elgin and Aurora to bring the apartment building to South Elgin, but has not yet brought a formal proposal to the village.
“At this time, we are not reviewing anything; and they haven’t submitted anything to go forward, not even their application,” said Steve Super, South Elgin’s director of community development.
Manning presented the village board in May with a concept plan for a $14 million apartment building on just under three acres. The land is adjacent to the Fox River and the Fox River Trail bike/pedestrian path and is eligible for Tax Increment Financing in the village center TIF district.
Residents near the development, however, have voiced concerns to the village board about low-income and disabled residents in that location.
The proposed development would be a three-story building on the “north end of the east side of the river,” in what was once an industrial area, Super said. “It has been vacant as long as anybody knows” and is not a significant source for village property taxes as it is now, he added.
There is a need for housing of this type in the region, Super said.
“There is a need for independent housing for those with developmental disabilities. There is a backlog of people (AID) would like to house,” he said.
According to AID President Lynn O’Shea, there are 47 disabled South Elgin residents on a state waiting list for housing supports. Countywide, there are another 600 disabled residents who need housing support. Most of the AID clients live on Social Security disability payments due to their medical needs, she added.
AID has 31 housing projects throughout Kane County, O’Shea said. “You can’t tell that people with disabilities live there. Our housing is as good or better than the neighbors.”
The Water’s Edge project would include 25 units for those with developmental disabilities and 25 qualified low-income units, Super said. The one-, two- and three-bedroom unit building would include on-site staff, including a social worker and a property manager, he added.
AID would provide case management, job training and daily living skills and management education for the residents, according to a fact sheet provided by the organization.
“This is not low-income housing,” O’Shea added. “This is affordable housing. This is something they can afford on their income, which is not high.”
Rents would be $700 for one bedroom, $850 for two bedrooms and $1,085 for the three-bedroom apartments, she said.
When the Burton Foundation and AID approached the village for concept plan review, the organizations were just putting together a financing plan, Super said, and the housing bill was awaiting Quinn’s signature. That potential state funding source was approved last week.
According to a press release from Quinn’s office, “the governor announced the commitment of up to $40 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funds for developers of permanent supportive housing.
“House Bill 5450 ... enables grant funding to be designated for people with disabilities under the Rental Housing Support Program, one of the nation’s largest state rental assistance programs, which is administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.” The new law takes effect immediately.
Nearby residents, including those on Robertson Road directly north of the proposed project, have banded together to voice their opposition to the project. Several of those residents spoke against the proposed development at the May 21 village board meeting.
Concerns voiced by those residents included questions of having disabled residents or young children living close to a river, dam, bridge and railroad tracks. Other residents questioned whether low-income housing would negatively impact their property values or whether the village can purchase the land for use as a park.
South Elgin cannot discriminate on what type of housing — or residents — live in an area, said Trustee Mike Kolodziej.
“We can’t be discriminatory. We can’t say no to low-income housing unless we want to submit the village to state and federal lawsuits,” he said. “We can’t engage in discriminatory policies.”
The village board already has asked the developers the same questions as the residents have, added Trustee Lisa Guess at the May 21 board meeting.
“We told them we want you to bring something to us that will wow us,” Guess said. “We want it to be the very best, and we made that clear to the folks that were here.”