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Wheaton Officials Agree Developer Can Build Senior Housing at Courthouse Square

Wheaton City Council members direct staff to prepare an amendment to the Courthouse Redevelopment Project Area Plan and Program to incorporate senior housing at Courthouse Square.

Wheaton City Council voted 5-2 Monday to recommend city staff prepare changes to the Courthouse Square development plan to allow for on the property.

At a public hearing, representatives of the developer, Courthouse Land Development, LLC and the city said the proposed amendments to the 2005 development plan would be legal and in conformance with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) requirements. 

Councilman Todd Scalzo said he thinks residents at existing Courthouse Square properties should understand Council’s recommendation does not expand nor limit the developer’s rights.

“The question tonight is, ‘Can this be done?’… And the answer to that is, ‘Yes,’” he said. “It does not answer the ultimate question which is, ‘Should it be done?’”

In 2005, City Council approved the “Courthouse Redevelopment Project Area Plan and Program” (CRPAPP), establishing a redevelopment plan and TIF for the Courthouse Square property. The plan called for redevelopment of the area for condos and townhomes. When market conditions changed with the onset of the recession and housing market distress in 2008, only a portion of the plan had been executed, according to a letter city consultant Steve Friedman wrote to Council March 28.

Michael Laube, representative for the developer, said the proposed amendment does not significantly change the original plan, “except maybe changing and affecting the general land uses.”

Councilwoman Evelyn Pacino-Sanguinetti and Councilman Tom Mouhelis voted against the recommendation. Pacino-Sanguinetti said she does not believe the proposal is consistent with the city plan.

Mouhelis said he was not in favor of the change, as residents who bought property at Courthouse Square were “promised a certain aspect” of the remaining development—which did not include senior housing.

Councilman Phil Suess motioned Council’s recommendation to staff. “This  moves it on to the next step,” he said. “…We have a proposal in front of us. It’s the only proposal in front of us.”

Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk said while he regrets the current state of the economy and that home values have plummeted, “This is a legitimate plan.”

City staff will prepare an official ordinance amending the TIF plan for Council's future consideration.

Mark Lukas May 15, 2012 at 06:55 PM
The housing market will improve someday, but in the mean time, Wheaton will have settled for too many compromise situations to make it an attractive place to live in the downtown area.
John Mihas May 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM
It's amazing that the five members voted to save Focus and Airhart from there stupidity. I feel bad for those residents that bought, and now the city sold them down the river. Developers 1 Residents 0. Times don't change in Wheaton.
Jill K. Amoni September 17, 2012 at 11:41 PM
I find this rather amusing...as if seniors are pariahs...far from it. They make the best neighbors one could ever dream for! They usually are courteous, kind, they usually live at a little slower pace and therefore have time to give to others. Often, if there are children nearby, they can be surrogate grandparents for missing grandparents. I would suggest that those opposing, check their values and character and revisit this!
John N September 18, 2012 at 04:24 PM
@ Jill Amoni. Good point and true about seniors making the best neighbors. However, there are no children that live in this area, and Focus is seeking to build a commercial hospital for memory care patients. I don't think that is a residential enterprise. Wheaton has always been a great place for seniors. There is Wyndemere, another couple on Manchester, as well as a new senior center going up right off of North Main. With Courthouse Square the developer took millions in tax dollars to build residential homes, and not a hospital. Please reconsider your questioning of values and character as it relates to those that oppose what a developer that took tax money is trying to do.
John Mihas September 18, 2012 at 05:42 PM
No is opposed to seniors. The city is bailing out themselves, Airhart and Focus from there stupidity. If you bought in the development, than developers needs to stick to the terms of the agreement. If the developer loses his shirt, its called free entreprise. You don't change zoning to accommodate stupidity.

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