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Proposal for rental units at Maplewood Elementary School property fizzles out

Developer could not gain support from trustees to move forward

The Cary Village Board and residents listen Tuesday evening to developer Patrick Taylor's latest proposal for Cary School District 26's Maplewood Elementary School property.
The Cary Village Board and residents listen Tuesday evening to developer Patrick Taylor's latest proposal for Cary School District 26's Maplewood Elementary School property.

CARY – A developer’s proposal to build dense housing at the site of a vacant Cary School District 26 property appears to be dead.

Patrick Taylor made his third appearance and presentation Tuesday night in front of the Cary Village Board and a packed room of concerned residents.

The new proposal, updated since it was before the village in early October, featured 200 multifamily units and 69 townhouses on the 15-acre, former Maplewood school site along the train tracks. The housing numbers decreased from 250 multifamily units and 78 townhouses shown in the previous proposal.

Several trustees commended Taylor for trying to work with the concerns of residents in the nearby single-family housing neighborhood, who felt the new construction would bring a community that is too densely built for the surrounding area.

But it wasn’t enough of a drop in density for most.

Toward the end of the meeting, after not getting enough favorable feedback from trustees, Taylor relayed to the village that it didn’t make much sense to proceed with a more detailed proposal and public hearing if he can’t convince trustees of the project’s merit.

Mayor Mark Kownick went to bat for Taylor and asked the board to at least join him in welcoming a more detailed proposal in a formal public hearing sometime in the near future.

Trustee Ellen McAlpine also asked for more details at a future meeting to make an informed decision. Trustee Christine Betz was open to further discussions if Taylor could reduce three-story residences to two-story residences.

Kownick said he wouldn’t mind seeing the project advance so everyone can “drill down” on some of the unanswered questions residents and trustees have. He tried to explain that the process is not to the point yet where specific details are available or capable of being ironed out.

“This could really come together quite nicely,” Kownick said. “I think there’s an opportunity here. We owe it to potential businesses and the landowner (District 26) to see what we can do to get this thing to where everybody feels comfortable with it in their neighborhood.”

Kownick commended Taylor for making a 20 percent reduction in density and said he thinks problems with aesthetics and layout – to make it fit better with the surrounding neighborhood – can be worked through.

When asked by Kownick, Taylor said he can’t go fewer than 200 apartments to justify a purchase of the land, factoring in costs for demolition of the school.

“If I can’t have the 200 apartments, then I can’t make it work,” Taylor said.

He did, however, warn the village that it will wish it pursued his idea further, citing similar developments in the northwest suburbs.

“I think it would eliminate a lot additional issues that are going on in this community,” Taylor said. “Your housing values are not favorable right now. I’m bringing something that’s totally different. It does not compete with what’s here. What you’re trying to get – what you’re trying to do – is get more of the same.”

The property will remain in District 26’s control. Taylor’s would-be purchase was contingent on village approval of his proposal for the site.

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