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Downers Grove council OKs redevelopment plans for Oak Trace

Redevelopment is in store for constituents already living in or considering the idea of moving into Oak Trace Senior Living Community.

In a unanimous vote at their April 18 meeting, the Downers Grove Village Council took action to allow redevelopment plans to proceed for a planned unit development located at 200 Village Drive.

“Last week, I walked through the criteria that are applicable to approval of a planned unit development amendment and indicated that if I was to see or hear anything that would change my analysis at that time, I would certainly take it into consideration,” Mayor Martin Tully said. “Just to close the loop on this, I have not received any information in addition to what I looked at last week that would convince me any different outcome as of tonight’s vote.”

Village officials were met last week by a number of concerned constituents. This week, no one spoke out in favor or in opposition to the redevelopment plans.

While a measure to amend the planned unit development was denied by the Plan Commission, the Village Council came to a consensus that much of the concerns raised by constituents rest outside their jurisdiction.

Lifespace Solutions’ plan, which operates Oak Trace, stipulates they intend to construct a new healthcare center, extend residential options to fit the community’s needs, strengthen the business model and absorb the project costs without relying heavily on increases to month service fees.

Under the redevelopment plans presented to the Village Council, Garden Home residents are anticipated to move out by the end of May.

Village council reviews original, current proposal with townhome developer

Also at that meeting, the Downers Grove Village Council reviewed the current proposal extended by K. Hovnanian Homes for the development of townhomes on the site currently housing Village Hall and the police department.

Village officials discussed the matter without taking action. That vote could authorize a letter of intent to work with the townhome developer.

Deputy Village Manager Mike Baker presented new information on this potential redevelopment plan to the council after Village officials sought negotiations with K. Hovnanian Homes. He said essentially, they’ve increased the unit count for what was originally a 42-unit townhome proposal to a current proposal that has 57 units that will be constructed in two phases—the first phase with 17 units, the second phase with 40 units.

“The net effect of increasing the unit count, it has the effect of increasing the… purchase price for the land,” Baker said. “[It] also increases the taxes that are generated annually by the development and therefore decreases the net affect to the Village of Downers in what would have to be paid beyond the dedicated sources of revenue that were identified for the facility improvement project.”

In recent months, Downers Grove officials have reviewed other redevelopment proposals, including those extended by Location Finders International for a medical office, Next Generation for apartments, Flaherty & Collins for mixed-use development.

The Village decided to seek negotiations with K. Hovnanian Homes last month with the goal of mitigating risk and increasing the rate of return to Downers Grove in connection to this development.

K. Hovnanian Home’s site plan consists of some new features to address safety concerns for vehicles and pedestrians traveling in and around the intersection of Washington Street and Burlington Avenue intersection.

Tully gave credit to Village staff for their negotiations with the developer to mitigate the risk.

A number of residents have expressed their opinions on the matter in recent weeks.

Commissioner William Waldack said he cannot support the current townhome proposal with so much risk at hand.

“Nothing has really changed,” he said, noting the developer has increased the number of townhomes to come on line from 40 to 57. “Other than that, there’s nothing that’s been mitigated. There’s no promises. I see nothing in there that makes this [proposal] more attractive.”

However, Commissioner Bob Barnett disagreed.

“I will continue to support the K. Hovnanian development forward,” he said. “What I don’t understand, though, is when risk is a question—and I think at least 3 or 4 of you folks who’ve discussed this so far tonight have discussed financial contribution—why would we do that without the math being run on the most recent LFI proposal? That remains in my mind the best proposal.”

The Village Council will vote on a letter of intent to work with K. Hovnanian Homes at their May 2 meeting.

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