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Residents Suing Clarendon Hills Over New Condo Building

The lawsuit filed by Phillip Altvater and Sue Hanlon targets the three-story, residential-only development at 103 S. Prospect Ave. approved by the village board in October.

The approved condo building would stand on the currently vacant lot at Prospect and Park avenues. (Rendering courtesy of the Village of Clarendon Hills)
The approved condo building would stand on the currently vacant lot at Prospect and Park avenues. (Rendering courtesy of the Village of Clarendon Hills)
Two Clarendon Hills residents have filed a lawsuit against the Village of Clarendon Hills demanding that the condo development approved for the corner of Prospect and Park avenues "comply with the retail requirements on the first floor, and other issues," according to a release put out by the residents.

Phillip Altvater, a neighbor of the currently vacant 103 S. Prospect Ave. property, and Sue Hanlon, owner of Amazing Grace Bookstore at 16. S. Prospect Ave., filed the lawsuit in DuPage Count Circuit Court on Dec. 6, the release states.

"The residents believe an unfair sequence of actions were executed that set an unfair precedent against retail," the release reads. "Notably the project appears to be the beginning of Village President [Tom] Karaba’s vision to turn our 'charming' Clarendon Hills into a 'condo village' rather than a balanced development with retail and adherence to zoning."

When asked what he hopes will come out of the lawsuit, Altvater said, "Ideally we would hope that this massive three-story building wouldn’t be built at that site."

Clarendon Hills village manager Randy Recklaus said in an email that the village is aware of the lawsuit, but has no comment at this time. 

The two residents and lawyer Robert O'Donnell earlier this week put out the release, which says the village's approval process was "unfair and arbitrary" and that the residents had to resort to legal action "after exhausting their avenues to convince the staff and trustees during routine hearings."

The Village of Clarendon Hills Board of Trustees voted 5-1 in October to approve the three-story development that property owner Mike Van Zandt said will contain eight high-end condo units that he hopes will sell for between $500,000 and $700,000. A comprehensive plan amendment was required to accommodate a residential-only building downtown without retail space on the first floor.

READ: Karaba on Downtown Clarendon Hills: 'If We Do Not Change, We Will Die'

Residents including Altvater, Hanlon and trustee Eric Stach spoke against the development during two village board meetings for, among other things, its lack of retail space.

Van Zandt, a Clarendon Hills resident himself, said retail would not be feasible in the building because rent in the new development would be too high for small-business retailers and national retailers who can afford new-construction rent are not interested in locating in a small, isolated downtown.

Hanlon said in the release that the condo development will "destroy a prime retail site" and have an adverse affect on the surrounding businesses and the overall character of the central business district.

Altvater, who lives across the street from the property at 104 S. Prospect Ave., said he's concerned the approval sets a precedent for the rest of the village that residential-only buildings are acceptable downtown.

"The village board's recent actions seem to be consistent with their personal desire and their attempt to bring development to Clarendon Hills no matter what the cost," Altvater said in the release. "It's unfortunate that we were ignored by officials when our sincere efforts were to ask for simple compliance and to do the right thing for Clarendon Hills. This lawsuit was our only and our last resort to protect our rights and correct the unfair proceedings. We are not alone in our feelings and will meet shortly with a group of likeminded residents."

A call to O'Donnell Friday afternoon seeking more information about the details of the lawsuit was not immediately returned.

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Abe December 13, 2013 at 05:46 PM
The village will easily win this and they should.
CH Resident December 14, 2013 at 09:00 AM
I think this lawsuit is frivolous and a blatant attempt to simply delay a development. The plaintiffs claim they were "ignored" during the process, however the initial develop was proposed as a 4-story development, (needing a variance for height). As a direct result of going through the municipal process (including public testimony), the developer reduced his proposal to a 3-story building needing no variations of bulk regulations. Throughout the process, the plaintiffs' main complaints were about the size of the development, but the fact is the size and bulk are expressly allowed under the zoning code. Retail has been dying on the vine in our downtown for a decade. What do the plaintiffs want? Brand new vacant retail space to add to the old vacant space we already have? The last thing I want, as a resident, is for my tax dollars having to be spent defending a ridiculous lawsuit. This is a waste of time, money, and effort and completely unproductive. I would hope that the plaintiffs who claim the Village is acting "arbitrarily" and based off of "personal desires" take a hard look in the mirror. As a resident, I support this development and hope this lawsuit never goes forward.
Abe December 14, 2013 at 07:02 PM
This went through normal due process and passed. There are no victims here. For new retail construction the base rent would have to be $30.00 per square foot plus taxes, common area maintenance etc. I'd like to see Ms. Hanlons rent rise to that figure and see how she makes any money in her business. She obviously does not care about that or anyone else's position but her own and insists on getting her way. Good luck with that.
CH Resident December 15, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Ironically, C4CH, which opposed the project, brought procedural objections during the process, forcing the village's attorney to meticulously review the process and notice requirements. As a result, the village's due process was rock solid, and will certainly survive judicial review.
William Schweitzer January 01, 2014 at 02:53 PM
Here we go again with the naysayers who are against any kind of economic development! They are same bunch since the 60's that have opposed the commercial expansion and annexation in Clarendon Hills and Hinsdale. The Healy farm development on the north side of Ogden Ave. and west of Route 83 could have been in Clarendon Hills, but the naysayers said we didn't want to become "too big". Now Westmont is enjoying a world class commercial automobile market bringing a huge amount of tax revenue to the municipality and reducing the personal property taxes. Oh, yes but we didn't want to become "too big". Hinsdale in the 60's could have had the Harvester property and and these same naysayers also turned their back on this proposed annexation along with much of what is now Burr Ridge because they also didn't want to become "too big'. When are these people going to wake up and change their dinosaur mentality about commercial growth and/or expansion of any kind? This kind of thought has been to the detriment of both communities and has to stop.

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