With a motion to approve a large-scale housing development on the floor, council members talked themselves out of signing off on the project and again kicked plans for the so-called Roos project back to developers for more tweaking.
“I’m definitely going to have a problem voting in favor of this project this evening,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said.
The mayor joined a unanimous vote during the May 30 village council meeting to table any action on the plans, pointing to a lack of parking as the biggest flaw. Commissioner Rory Hoskins said he wanted more details on tentative plans to bury existing utility lines located off-site. Meanwhile, commissioners Mike Curry, Marty Tellalian and Mark Hosty echoed calls for additional parking.
“Parking is a concern across the board,” Hosty said.
Architects and planners behind the proposed redevelopment of the vacant Roos property on the corner of Harrison and Circle streets were visibly frustrated by yet another delay, but commissioners were very specific in their requests and spoke optimistically of taking a vote on June 11.
“What troubles us is the delay,” project consultant John Schiess said. “We’ve been fine tuning for several months now.”
Perhaps the most visible changes to the plan will follow Curry’s recommendation that hydraulic lifts be used to increase the amount of parking spaces that will be deeded to condominium residents.
At the start of the discussion, the 70 condos slated for the vacant industrial property had only 80 parking spaces, a ratio of 1.14 spaces per unit. Village zoning requires two parking spaces per residential unit.
Initially, Curry lobbied for an additional 45 spaces to bring the ratio up to 1.8 spaces per condo, but the council settled on a directive for at least 1.4 spaces per unit.
The 28 townhouses to be constructed largely along Hannah Avenue each have two parking spaces per unit.
According to Calderone, discussions with the developer since the council meeting indicate that 16 new spaces for condo residents, for a ratio of 1.37, will be created by stacking cars on top of one another.
“They’re going to use this lift system,” Calderone said.
Also, the amount of units available for rent will be decreased to 30 percent from 50 percent, street parking along Harrison Street will be maintained and roughly 2,000-square feet of commercial space will be slated instead for use by the property’s tenants.
Commissioners also asked that more be done to encourage the Chicago Transit Authority to renovate a Blue Line station near the project. Currently, passengers on the el can use that station as an exit only.
Through negotiations with the developer, the municipality will receive $525,000 for off-site improvements. Some $325,000 of that is designated specifically for lighting, green space and other aesthetics. The remainder is earmarked to help with the possible burying of overhead utility lines, but may be used for other area improvements.
The purse represents a first for the village, which has never received a cash donation of this type from a developer for improvements to a neighborhood, Village Administrator Mike Sturino said.
Schiess, the project consultant, pointed to these funds and his colleague’s willingness to share what would typically be confidential information on the project’s margins as proof the developer is bending over backwards for the council. Calderone acknowledged the sentiment, but said ultimately the project will be something the community has to live with for decades to come.
“Nobody holds a gun to your head,” Calderone said. “You guys take the risk.”