Board: More 'pizzazz' needed in Cary apartment plan

CARY – Village Board members said they want to see a more upscale plan for a potential apartment complex.

Pedcor Investments – based in Carmel, Ind. – wants to build a 60-unit workforce housing complex on 4.5 acres at First Street and Pearl Street. It presented its concept plan to Village Board members Tuesday.

Pedcor Senior Vice President Mike Smith said the construction value of the project would be about $17 million.

Village Board members said they don't want the development to appear to be "cookie cutter." Trustee Rick Dudek said the site lends itself well to the proposed project.

"Looking at the drawings, I no way, shape or form think this is impressive; I think they're blah looking," Dudek said. "Everything is very boxy. To me ... I like something with some pizzazz in this community, something that is angular, buildings that aren't necessarily everything 90 degrees, and some of your projects have it."

Dudek said the proposed site is an easy walk to the village's downtown and train station.

"I can see this being a tremendously popular project and product because of its closeness to the downtown," Dudek said. "From an aesthetic point of view ... we can do a little better."

Smith said this concept plan is a first pass.

"We have a lot of options out there, as far as addressing the aesthetics of the building, the architectural interest, the scale of the building," Smith said. "I'm sure we can probably find some sort of combination that will be something that will fit better."

A public hearing on the plan is tentatively scheduled for May 22 with the village's board of zoning, planning and appeals.

A final decision by the Cary Village Board could come in June.

Smith said Pedcor has yet to do a market of study to determine what rents would be, but estimated a one-bedroom apartment would go for $700 a month, a two-bedroom apartment would be $850 a month, and a three-bedroom unit would rent for $950 to $975 a month.

Pedcor hopes to receive tax credits for the project through the Illinois Housing and Development Program's Low Income Tax Credit program.

"It's an extraordinarily competitive program," Smith said. "That's the reason why we do a lot of due diligence up front to determine ... if in fact does it meets state requirements, will it score objectively very high in the state program, is there a need in the community?" Smith said.

The IHDA program administers federal tax credits. To receive the credits, Pedcor would have to primarily serve residents who make 60 percent of the area median income or less. Investors in the property then can get tax credits in return for project equity, which reduces the amount needed to finance the project and makes rent more affordable.

Pedcor has to keep rents in a certain range determined by the federal government based on the area median income, Smith said.

According to Pedcor, 87.8 percent of the people employed in the Cary live outside of the town, and 57.7 percent of the workers earn less than $40,000 a year.

"We're targeting those who work in the community, those that have moderate income but can't afford the average $278,000 home that's currently in Cary," Smith said.

Former mayor Kathleen Park had concerns about the project.

"It seems like a densification for the village of Cary, a densification of people," Park said. "Usually when you move away from cities ... you're not looking to densify."

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