Calling it a well-designed and thought-out plan, Arlington Heights officials support the proposed redevelopment of much of a long-vacant downtown block, though say parking issues are still to be resolved.
Developer CCH, LLC and village planners presented an overview of the massive Arlington 425 project to the village plan commission Wednesday night. The project calls for three buildings with a mix of residential and commercial uses on the northern three-quarters of the so-called vacant Block 425 -- bounded by Campbell Street, Highland Avenue, Sigwalt Street and Chestnut Avenue.
The panel conducted its first public hearing on the plans, for which nearby downtown residents offered mixed feedback. Members of the commission posed questions to the developer during the four-hour meeting, but continued discussion to their next meeting on April 10. Eventually, they will issue a recommendation to the village board, which will make the final decision on whether to grant the project four necessary zoning approvals and seven variations.
The board provided an early review of the project last October, offering mostly positive reactions, though also expressing concerns about traffic and parking. The design commission held meetings in December, February and March and eventually issued a favorable recommendation. The developer must still go before the housing commission, where plans for inclusion of residential units at below-market rates will be discussed.
The developer has proposed a four-story, 54-unit residential building facing Chestnut; a nine-story, 182-unit apartment building with commercial space on the bottom two floors on Campbell; and a 13-story, 125-unit apartment building on Highland that would include a six-story parking garage.
"Staff is encouraged by the proposed development, which we feel is a strong proposal that would accommodate redevelopment of this vacant block," said Sam Hubbard, a development planner for the village's community development department. "It would provide energy to our thriving downtown area and provide long-term economic benefits to the village."
While the project provides 544 parking spaces -- 89 more than required by code -- Hubbard said the village still wants to see a detailed on-site parking management and allocation plan, since some studies suggest there could be a parking deficit at peak times.
Project attorney Mike Firsel said he would provide that analysis, but took exception with the suggestion there could be any deficit in parking since the project would comply with code.
About 15 residents chimed in during the commission's public hearing Wednesday night -- some favoring the project for what it could do to improve the downtown neighborhood, though others shared concerns on parking and potential congestion.
"In order to maintain that vibrancy, we need to have 425 built," said Lauree Harp, a 40-year resident who's spent about half that time living downtown.
But downtown neighbor Judy Kaselow called the project a "density nightmare."
"This is going to harm rather than enhance the downtown area for those of us who live there 24/7," she said. "It seems like there's too much going on on just three-quarters of a block."