Mount Prospect village board members Tuesday night approved a controversial, massive $110 million redevelopment for the south side of downtown.
Trustees voted 5-1 in favor of Maple Street Lofts, which will have a six-story, 192-unit apartment building with 14,000 square feet of retail space; a seven-story, 65-unit apartment building; nine structures with 56 row homes; and a 268-space parking deck, all along Prospect Avenue near the downtown Metra station.
Mount Prospect-based Nicholas & Associates will develop the project. President Nick Papanicholas Jr. said after the vote that Maple Street Lofts will be his family company's most exciting project in the village.
"We've had a business here for 42 years," Papanicholas said. "My parents moved here 48 years ago. So, we're proud of this one. We've spent countess months, years, working internally, working with the community and staff for what we feel is a perfect project."
But there were many project opponents who were among the 150 people at village hall Tuesday night. The opponents, mainly residents living nearby, had concerns such as the buildings being be too tall and the development creating traffic congestion and safety problems for their neighborhood.
Trustee Paul Hoefert was the lone village board dissenter.
Hoefert said Des Plaines would be "a thriving metropolis" if high residential density were the criteria for a suburban downtown. He said Mount Prospect's downtown has been progressing and doesn't need the mammoth project that he contends will lead to extra traffic in the area.
"The downtown has come back a long ways," Hoefert said.
As part of the village board majority, Trustee Michael Zadel said Nicholas & Associates has a "winning formula" that'll attract younger residents with disposable income and increase the downtown population. He added that change is difficult for residents who opposed the project.
"Again, this is a quality development from a quality developer," Zadel said.
Trustee Colleen Saccotelli said Mount Prospect is trying to reach its potential as a community and that Maple Street Lofts will help achieve that goal.
"Maple Street Lofts is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our downtown," Saccotelli said.
Proponents also said they expect Maple Street Lofts to provide a significant boost to businesses there and encourage further growth.
Mayor Arlene Juracek said the project is a culmination of a process that began in 2013, when Mount Prospect was part of a study called "Homes for a Changing Region." The study determined the village is primed for upper-income rental housing, with the downtown desirable for the 25-44 age group.
But the opponents criticized village officials for what they said was a project that moved forward at lightning speed since August, when the village agreed to reimburse Parenti & Raffaelli Ltd. $3 million for its relocation from 215-225 E. Prospect Ave., clearing the way for Maple Street Lofts.
Each side made their final pitches to the village board during a lengthy public comment session. Opponent Karen Thompson said she and others on her side are not against downtown development.
"We want to have people to come in and have a more vibrant downtown," she said. "It's just not this particular spot."
Business owner Dan Nova countered that Maple Street Lofts is needed. He said change is inevitable.
"Nobody goes downtown like they used to," Novak said.
Papanicholas said his company will need to work through the village permitting process but hopes construction activity for the phased-in project starts within 60 days.