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Morningside Reps Offer New Vision for Hahn Street Development Based on Changed Economy

Hahn Street plan shifts to apartment rentals.

Elmhurst officials were told on Tuesday that new residents for a proposed development near York Road and North Avenue were still out there, but in today's economy they want to rent rather than own. Whether the city wants to see more rental units downtown remains up for discussion.

Representatives from Morningside Group on Tuesday presented a revised plan for the north part of the downtown tax increment financing district, an area bounded by North Avenue, Addison Avenue, York Road and Third Street and including Hahn Street. A previous plan for the area called for condominiums and retail space, but that was stalled by the downturn in the economy. Taking the new realities of the real estate market into account, the new plan shifts the living space to rental apartments and reduces the amount of retail space.

The $50 million proposal calls for a six-story building with 190 rental units, four rental rowhomes facing Addison Avenue, 362 parking garage spaces, 12,600 square feet of retail space and a public event space facing York Road. Of the rental units, 125 would be one-bedroom and 61 would be two bedroom, with the rowhouses offering three bedrooms. Just more than 100 of the parking garage spaces would be available to the public, with the rest belonging to the apartments. Rents for the units are proposed at $1,490 to $2,340 per month. To see what the floor plans might look like, Strosberg referred aldermen to the group's rental property in Des Plaines, River595.

Morningside is assuming a 65-foot height for the building. Although the city's zoning code currently caps buildings at 45 feet, the fact that this would be a planned development means that Morningside can ask to build a taller structure.

Morningside Group President David Strosberg told the council that the condominium market had declined by 30 to 40 percent since the last plan was proposed, and he does not expect a recovery for at least five years. However, “there is really a strong demand in the Chicago area for rental housing,” he said.

City Attorney Nick Peppers said that the drastic change in the plan would re-start the approval process for the project. Given the need to resubmit the plan to both the Zoning Commission and the Development, Planning and Zoning Committee, and assuming approval, Morningside representatives did not foresee residents moving into the building until 2014.

Aldermen wondered if the city should back up even further and, given the changes in the economy since the previous plan, discuss what they wanted to see on the site.

“This is a project that is going to be here forever,” 3rd Ward Alderman Michael Bram said.

Aldermen told Morningside that they wanted to see a side-by-side comparison of the previously proposed and newly presented ideas.

Jim Court October 19, 2011 at 09:31 PM
It seems presumptuous to believe that people who are not professional developers, know more about the market, than the developer.Who has the risk? We are never going to get this built in this dire market if we constantly armchair quarterback. Yes, we want it to be the best it can be, but perfection will never arrive nor can you please everybody. A building like the one proposed might just be the perfect place for Elmhurst College students. Right now it a huge expense for the city taxpayers. Once built, it would contribute greatly to our economy and the downtown businesses. Decision making by committee would drive me nuts !
Darlene Heslop October 20, 2011 at 01:11 AM
w/rents STARTING at $1500 per month (that translates to $14,500 per 9 month school year), i don't know of a college student that could afford that (unless their families were millionaires), let alone "young 20-30 year olds". the assumption is that there are person's w/incomes in excess of $55k that are looking for "luxury apartments" in downtown elmhurst. i make more than that and i can guarantee, there is no way i'm prepared to spend $1500/month for a 1 bedroom apartment. i live in downtown elmhurst. i have a corner apartment w/1 neighbor across the hallway and 1 neighbor next door. in 7 years, i have had 4 different next door neighbors and 4 different neighbors across the hallway. this is a poor proposal and if this is the best that strosberg can come up with at this time, perhaps we need to see if someone else can come up with something better.
Jim Court October 20, 2011 at 02:41 AM
My thought was for two individuals to share a unit. Many Elmhurst College students currently reside at Elmhurst Terrace. Although about the same distance to school, it lacks proximity to our downtown area. I still believe that a hotel would drive much traffic to our downtown. This project needs to progress soon.
Susan Smentek October 20, 2011 at 04:13 AM
If they want to build rentals, why do they need twice as many units? I don't have to be a developer to know that 190 transient residents one block from my house is not in the best interest of my community. Why can't they build the 82 units and call them rentals instead of condos? Why do they need 20 extra feet in height? I saw their DesPlaines rental building. It looks like lot line-to-lot line overbearing hulk of a building to me. Also, $1500 for a one bedroom means that 2 students wouldn't be renting the cheaper units unless they were sharing the bedroom. $1500 is a mortgage payment.
Darlene Heslop October 23, 2011 at 09:09 PM
susan - right on :-).

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