Arlington Heights village board members offered mostly positive reviews Monday of a proposed massive redevelopment of a vacant block in the downtown.
But during an early review of the project, trustees also raised concerns about the height and size of the proposed three-building campus, and the traffic and parking issues that its construction could bring.
Developer CCH, LLC has presented plans to redevelop the northern three-quarters of an empty block at Chestnut Avenue and Campbell Street -- a site that was once home to Paddock Publications, owner of the Daily Herald. Called Arlington 425, it includes a five- to six-story, 73-unit residential building facing Chestnut; an eight-story, 172-unit apartment building with 18,000 square feet of first-floor retail space on Campbell; and a 12-story, 113-unit apartment building on Highland Avenue that would include a five-story parking garage.
"When I first saw the plans for this, I said, 'Wow, that's big. That's huge,'" Mayor Tom Hayes told the project's development team at a village board meeting Monday. "You might think that's meant in a negative way, but that's meant in a positive way. That's big and bold and exciting for the village of Arlington Heights."
Hayes encouraged the developer to secure a rooftop restaurant for the Highland building -- as has been hinted -- that he believes would be a draw to the downtown.
Other supportive comments came from Trustee Bert Rosenberg, who called the development "sized right," and Trustee Richard Baldino, who agreed it was a good fit because it would require few variances from village codes.
Trustee Mike Sidor, who lives downtown, said the development, if done correctly, could help differentiate Arlington Heights from other towns along the railroad line.
But Sidor and other trustees also peppered project attorney Mike Firsel with questions about traffic volume, site circulation, the unloading of delivery trucks and parking.
Trustee John Scaletta called a traffic circle in the middle of the three-building campus "gridlock central."
"I'm concerned you're putting so much on this property that there's not enough room for people to be able to move around with their vehicles," Scaletta said. "There's a lot going on in one area that is so dense."
Trustee Thomas Glasgow said the largest building, which would abut the village's Vail Avenue garage, "rivals something that would be on the (Northwest Community Hospital) campus."
"It's a really big building with a whole lot of glass," Glasgow said. "(The block) has got to be developed at some point. I just don't know if this project is something I would be comfortable with."
As for the row house-style building on Chestnut, Trustee Robin LaBedz said she would prefer a building of four stories, given the proximity of single-family homes across the street. Glasgow, Baldino and LaBedz did say they were encouraged by the developer's early commitment to provide as many as 54 residential units at below-market rates.
Trustee Jim Tinaglia, whose architecture firm designed plans for the project, recused himself from the discussion.
Once the developer submits formal plans, they would be reviewed by the village's conceptual plan review committee and plan and design commissions, before coming back to the village board for an official vote.