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Wheaton Zoning Board to Consider Proposal for Senior Housing at Courthouse Square

The city's Planning and Zoning Board will hold a public hearing for an amendment to an approved planned unit development (PUD) to allow the construction of a senior housing development at Courthouse Square in downtown Wheaton.

Instead of condo buildings, Wheaton's Planning and Zoning Board will consider a request to amend a previously-approved development, to allow the construction of a senior housing facility at the property in downtown Wheaton Tuesday night.

The city in 2004 approved the planned unit development (PUD) for Courthouse Land Development, LLC—located in one of the city's three tax increment financing (TIF) districts—for the construction of 50 townhomes and 206 condos in four buildings, according to a city staff memo. Currently, one of the buildings, containing 50 units, the old courthouse building—containing six units—and 11 townhomes have been constructed. 

But when the housing market took a quick turn for the worst, development stalled. To date, only three condos in the courthouse building and two townhomes have sold at the Courthouse Square, according to the memo.

At an August City Council meeting, to the proposed changes to the development.

A city panel voted Apr. 4 to approve the wording for developer's proposed changes, according to Triblocal. The panel voted 4-1 to approve the wording of the amendment, with supporting votes from Wheaton City Councilman John Rutledge, Community Unit School District 200 Assistant Superintendent Bill Farley, Milton Township Supervisor Chris Heidorn and DuPage County zoning coordinator Paul Lauricella. Wheaton Park District Executive Director Mike Benard opposed.

City Concil will ultimately decide whether to approve the amendment at a May 14 meeting, according to Triblocal.

According to the city memo, Courthouse Land Development is now proposing to construct a six-story, 167-unit senior housing development instead of the second and third condo buildings proposed in 2004. The senior housing development, which would be managed by Parkside Management Services, would contain 55 independent living units, 84 assisted living units and 28 memory care units. The building’s design would be consistent with the architecture of the existing building, and would contain two outdoor dining spaces on the ground floor.

The amendment, submitted by Courthouse Land Development, LLC, would allow construction of a senior housing development at 250 Naperville Road and 245 Willow Avenue.

According to the memo, the proposed amendment to the approved development plan for Courthouse Square is a “major change,” that does not conform with the approved PUD.

“The Zoning Ordinance requires PUD’s to meet certain objectives. A PUD should promote harmonious architectural styles, building forms, building massing and building relationships,, both within the development and between the development and its surroundings. The PUD should also promote diversity in the types of developments permitted, so as to provide a variety of living, working and other environments attractive to all ages and income levels.”

City staff recommends approval of the application, with the following conditions:

  1. Applicant provides testimony regarding how the development complies with the “Minimum Usable Open Space” requirements of the Zoning Ordinance
  2. Applicant addresses how kitchen venting/mechanicals will be screened
  3. Applicant provides sufficient testimony that adequate excess parking capacity exists to accommodate the shortage of spaces provided per code, and the utilization of the 92 lower level parking spaces
  4. Applicant submits a signage plan, indicating the style and content of the signage
  5. Applicant provides testimony addressing how and where the move-in/move-out process will occur
  6. Applicant provides testimony addressing how and where trash and recycling will be collected
  7. Applicant provides testimony addressing the projected use and importance of he drop-off/pickup lanes
  8. The subdivision plat of Courthouse Square recorded in 2005 is revised to indicate the lot consolidation for the proposed amendment

The zoning board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Apr. 24 at City Hall, 303 Wesley Street, Wheaton.

Patch will provide updates to this story Wednesday, Apr. 25.

Correction: The City of Wheaton did not terminate an agreement with Airhart Construction. Airhart continues to market and sell townhomes, according to a company spokesman.

Gregg Slapak April 24, 2012 at 07:10 PM
And, sooo, I think this could be a positive for downtown Wheaton. What say you?
John Mihas April 24, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Not if you lived there, and promised something else. Airhart gets to change the terms of deal to protect his investment, while the current residents of the project get screwed.
Molly R. O'Brien April 24, 2012 at 08:57 PM
We have been subsidizing their luxury lifestyle for years. It is time to stop.
John Mihas April 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM
The residents did not ask for tax breakers. It was the developer, that asked for and received TIF funds. Again the blame goes to the city council for approving the project, and bailing out Airhart. The city needs to get out of TIF projects and allow the open market to pick winners and losers.
Major Tom April 25, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Ever think of running for office Molly?
Heather April 26, 2012 at 05:19 PM
The facts of this article are incorrect.  The redevelopment proposal brought forward by Focus Development modifies the residential use of the midrise buildings. Airhart Construction is still moving forward with the townhome portion of Courthouse Square; that has never waivered.  The City of Wheaton never terminated its agreement to build townhomes at Courthouse Square.  12 townhomes have sold or gone under contract at Courthouse Square and Airhart Construction continues to actively sell.  The Patch should kindly fact check before they post an article.
Sharon Brockmeier April 26, 2012 at 06:06 PM
The numbers of sold units is incorrect. I believe all units in the condo building are sold and 3 of the courthouse units are sold with a fourth under contract. Airhart is not trying to change plans, Focus is. All residents pay taxes. We are not the ones being subsidized. The devoloper is. There are many issues here that need researching.
John Mihas April 26, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Airhart is part of focus group, he is personally on the hook for about 2 million if this project is not finished by a certain due date. If you look deep into this project, Airhart wants to change the terms. City needs to stay of TIFS.
Joe Wheaton May 01, 2012 at 07:51 PM
The City is in bed with these developers and might I say extremely lazy about looking for alternatives. The city should have taken some kind of security from these developers to make sure they didn't go bust in the middle. They failed the tax payers when they did their due diligence and allowed the developers to get their hands on this property. Now because its the easiest thing to do, they are going to accept a proposal that has no economic value to the down town area as originally intended through the TIF. Molly above has it completely wrong. The home owners in Courthouse Square area have seen the value of the properties do nothing but drop but I assure you we have received no public handout. The subsidizing here was went to the developers that failed and didn't keep up enough financial strength because they were over-extended and their banks pulled their loans. They are the one making out and will again if the City approves this fiasco.

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