Clarendon Hills trustee Eric Stach said Monday night that allowing the condo building planned for 103 S. Prospect to include no retail space permanently sacrifices the potential for retail “at an important, pivotal gateway site,” and sets a precedent that could lead to more residential-only buildings in downtown Clarendon Hills.
“This is a gateway, high-profile property on the downtown’s most prominent thoroughfare,” Stach said. “Undeniably, there will be a ripple effect and I’m not yet convinced it will be a positive one.”
Stach was the only trustee who voted against approving a special-use permit and comprehensive plan amendment that will allow a three-story, eight-unit condo building with no first-floor retail to be built at the currently vacant property at the corner of Prospect and Park Avenue.
The dissenting trustee said he was not in favor of approving the building while the village is in the midst of a downtown master plan update.
According to Stach the development will likely not benefit residents or downtown business owners, and dismissed the idea that anything is better at that spot than vacant land.
“I don’t believe that just any building is an improvement, and we should expect more,” Stach said. “We should not rush through this approval process. Once this thing goes up, it’ll be up forever.”
Check back with Patch later this week for strong words from Village President Tom Karaba in support of the development.
Before his statement, which was made directly before votes were taken, Stach had amended a motion to table by trustee Ed Reid so that it included exploration of different street-parking options outside the building and the possibility that the building’s tallest sides be set back further from the street.
That motion was voted down, 4-2.
Stach wasn’t the only person at Village Hall Monday night who had issues with the development. Several audience members spoke against the project during the public comment portion of the discussion.
“I’ve got to believe we can do better than this,” Phil Altvater said, noting that a number of residents are against the project. “If it is voted on and approved I suppose we have to seek relief through legal redress.”
Sue Hanlon, owner of Amazing Grace Bookstore at 16. S. Prospect Ave., said the building does not fit the rest of downtown Clarendon Hills and putting a residential-only building in the central business district harms the area.
“Any kind of non-retail or –business use [in the central business district], you are actually causing the village to suffer, the actual businesses in town,” Hanlon said. “That is what we’re concerned about.”
Like Stach, Andy Schmidt believed those working on the DTMP update should have had a say. A member of one of the update's committees, Schmidt said he doesn't think the condo building is in line with the values he and others who volunteered have been emphasizing.
"The data points to the fact that people want small-town charming, quaintness, no rapid change. That was loud and clear every meeting," Schmidt said.
Landowner Mike Van Zandt has said retail space in the development is not feasible because new-construction rent rates would be too high for small-business tenants, and national retailers that could afford the rates are not interested in locating in downtown Clarendon Hills.
He also said banks would not be interested in financing his project if it contained first-floor retailers.
The condos, Van Zandt expects, will be priced between $500,000 and $700,000 and aimed at aging Clarendon Hills residents who want to downsize without moving away from town.
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