Affordable Housing Proposal Finds New Life

Artist’s rendering of Northpointe development proposed on former Kinsch Village Florist and Garden Center property at 301 W. Johnson St.

The village of Palatine is giving a second chance to a developer.

Northpointe Development previously attempted to build affordable housing at 874-920 N. Quentin Rd., but the village council did not support those plans. However, the council is more inclined with a site closer to downtown.

Councilmen July 11 unanimously voted to approve the company’s site plan for the former Kinsch Village Florist and Garden Center property at 301 W. Johnson St., which has been vacant since the summer of 2020. Northpointe is planning something broadly similar to the original Quentin Road proposal: a 58-unit, three-story building made up of a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

The major difference is that the side of the building facing Johnson Street is made up of four, two-story, three-bedroom apartments. And, unlike in the Quentin Road development, there is a buffer between the site and single-family homes further west. Northpointe plans to keep the forested area on the west half of the property intact.

According to the company website, the Kinsch family operated the garden center on the property between 1938-2020. The announcement on the website states that, “with the rising business cost and Cook County taxes, it has become increasingly difficult to operate over the past several years.” Kinsch still operates a floral market downtown at 48 W. Palatine Rd.

Northpointe has built a number of affordable housing projects in Wisconsin and Michigan’s upper peninsula, but this would be their first project in Illinois. The company previously received $15 million in tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to build apartments that would be affordable to tenants earning 30-80% of the Area Median Income for Cook County, which, depending on the size of the unit, would be between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. The tax credits require Northpointe to build a development somewhere in Palatine or lose those credits.

Sean O’Brien, Northpointe’s principal, previously described the project as a way to make sure Palatine’s working-class residents have quality housing in the community. He said that the existing residents would get priority, but they couldn’t legally limit it to Palatine residents.

The Quentin Road version of the proposal saw backlash from residents of the single-family units further west and north, who were worried about the impact of traffic, the development’s density and the safety of children living in the development as they try to cross busy Quentin Road.

Some residents also pointed to the fact that the site was far from the Metra station and Pace’s Route 604, the only Pace route that serves the village.

In response to the feedback, Northpointe scaled down the Quentin proposal, but the concerns remained, and the village council unanimously rejected it on Jan. 17.

By contrast, the Kinsch site proposal didn’t face any public opposition.

Palatine Director of Planning and Zoning Ben Vyverberg, who advised against approving both iterations of the Quentin proposal, said that he had no issue with density or traffic impact.

Councilman Tim Millar (Dist. 1) asked if the village wanted to impose parking restrictions on the site given that Paddock Elementary School is directly east.

Village Manager Reid Ottesen stated that while they don’t have any immediate plans to do so, anytime there is a large-size development, they keep an eye on traffic and parking impacts and ask the council for permission to adjust accordingly.

The post Affordable Housing Proposal Finds New Life first appeared on Journal & Topics Media Group.

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July 20, 2022 at 01:51PM

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