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.