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Developer considering senior affordable housing project in Cary

Developer eyeing affordable apartment project for Cary site

CARY – An Ohio-based development company has begun researching the possibility of building a senior housing development along Three Oaks Road with the use of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, according to a village memo.

The interest comes a few months after a planned low-income housing project received much push-back from residents and led to the formation of the Cary Matters Political Action committee, which campaigned to stop the Pedcor Investments project at First and Pearl streets.

Representatives from Pirhl development recently met with village officials, including Village President Mark Kownick, Village Administrator Chris Clark, and Director of Community and Economic Development Chris Stilling.

According to the village memo, which was part of a weekly update to Village Board members, Pirhl has interest in building what would be a 66-unit apartment building that would be two to three stories tall.

“Pirhl has submitted a letter of intent to purchase the property and they believe they will have the property under contract within the next few weeks,” the memo said.

Pirhl has interest in buying 3.9 acres of vacant land on Three Oaks Road behind the Jewel Osco.

The property is listed for $899,000.

In the last six months, the property asking price was reduced from $1.4 million, said broker Dave Gelwicks, who is listing the property.

Gelwicks said the property has been off and on the market for a number of years.

According to the village memo, a project funding source would be Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, which are the same type of credits being used to help with financing the planned Pedcor apartment complex. The Pedcor project is not age-restricted.

If the potential Pirhl project went forward and used the tax credits, there are some income requirements for residents.

Either at least 40 percent of the units would have to be rented to people who have 60 percent or less of the area median income, or at least 20 percent of the units must be rented to people who earn 50 percent or less of the area median income, said Man Yee Lee, the assistant director of Marketing and Communications for the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Lee added that when most developers when apply for the tax credits, they pledge to offer at least 80 percent of their units to people meeting the income requirements.

The village memo states that the independent living development, if ultimately approved, would be for people 55 and older. The age restriction would be in place for 30 years.

The village’s comprehensive plan, including the draft update that is under consideration, calls for the property to be used for commercial development.

According to the village memo, as part of the Village Board’s Nov. 18 comprehensive plan discussion, “staff will seek the board’s thoughts on the proposed senior housing project as it relates to the comprehensive plan recommendation.”

The area is zoned for commercial use. The real estate listing says the property has sewer and water connections available and is ideal for a hotel or senior housing.

David Burg, a principal at Pirhl, said the development company has done limited research of Cary. He said a visit to the site behind Jewel was just a first visit.

“We’re looking, we’re exploring, it’s too early in the process to make a comment,” Burg said.

The potential project already has Trustee Karen Lukasik concerned.

Lukasik, who posted the Community Development memo on the Cary Matters’ Facebook page, said the property would be better for commercial development rather than a residential use.

“It’s going to take away an opportunity for commercial development,” she said.

Lukasik, who is not running for re-election, said she does not support having another low-income housing project on the heels of the Pedcor development.

“Why would we entertain an idea like this?” Lukasik said. “Why would you think trustees would want to?”

She did say she would be more supportive of a senior development rather than the non-age-restricted project Pedcor plans because it would not lead to additional students in the school district.

Clark said Pirhl has not formally petitioned the village for a zoning change.

He said that during the meeting with Pirhl representatives, village officials answered questions about the village’s zoning change process and development process.

Clark added more developers have made inquiries about Cary in recent months.

“We’re seeing these sorts of meetings of late because I think the economy is coming back,” Clark said.

He said the village president was involved because the developer came in while Kownick had office hours.

“It doesn’t mean there’s going to be a project proposal or deal,” Clark said.

Clark said the village doesn’t have control over which developers approach property owners.

“The reality is, the property owner has the right to sell property,” Clark said. “From time to time people come in and ask for different zoning.”

The village does control the decision-making process, and ultimately it would be up to the Village Board whether to change the zoning to allow a potential project to go forward.

“The timing of this being affordable housing is what it is,” Clark said.

Trustee Dave Chapman said he hasn’t thought about the pros and cons of the potential site. However, he likes the idea of adding senior housing in the village.

“That addresses one of the key needs of ... helping to keep our residents who need to downsize to an affordable place and stay living in Cary,” Chapman said. “I think it’s a good plan.”

Trustee Rick Dudek said it’s still early.

“The board hasn’t seen a presentation from the developer yet,” Dudek said. “It’s early to opine on it.”

Dudek said senior housing is a need in Cary, and the site behind Jewel hasn’t seen any activity in the 11 years he has lived in the community.

He added potentially putting the senior housing within walking distance and next to the shopping center could help attract tenants to the strip mall.

“We’ll have to see what is proposed. ... We have to get a little more information to make a prudent decision,” Dudek said. “I’m fairly confident the developer will be before the board before long.”

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