Arlington Heights residents and trustee call affordable housing plans for International Plaza redevelopment ‘segregation’ – Chicago Tribune

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International Plaza, a property on Golf Road in south Arlington Heights, could see a significant transformation to a mixed-use development in the next two years if developers and village leaders can agree on how to allocate affordable housing on the site, according to village officials.

UrbanStreet, the developers proposing the project, to be located just east of Arlington Heights Road, presented to the Village Board at its Aug. 15 meeting plans for retail and business space, as well as seven residential buildings with a total of 265 units – with one building to include 37 units of affordable housing. The developers sought feedback from village trustees.

Trustee Mary Beth Canty said the location of the affordable housing building, on the northeast corner of the property, away from the other buildings, suggested segregation since it was in a less desirable area and had no access to the amenities at the other building, in particular, the planned pool.

Jon Dennis, senior vice president of UrbanStreet, called the redevelopment “mixed use and mixed income” and said there would be 10 additional affordable housing units beyond what’s required by the village’s affordable housing ordinance. He described the building as age-restricted, senior housing with income qualifications of 60% of the area median income. Some trustees and residents questioned the location and the designation.

Dennis said Northpointe Development Corporation, which would develop the affordable housing units, described the senior building as “independent not segregated” with a desire to have its own amenities, including shared community spaces but no pool.

That wasn’t received well by Canty, other trustees and some residents.

“I voiced concern over the segregation of affordable units in a separate building at the Housing Commission meeting,” said Lynda Wacie.

“The residents of that building may not have access to the same amenities as the other six buildings and this sounds like segregation to me.

“I was surprised to hear the affordable housing would be senior housing,” she continued. “I believe it should be affordable for everyone [who qualifies], including seniors, there shouldn’t be restrictions.”

Resident Christina Crusius, 28, said her income would qualify her for affordable housing but she didn’t feel the development adequately met the intentions of the village’s ordinance to provide diversity, equity and inclusion.

“If the development segregates all the affordable units to a single building, that is not inclusion,” Crusius said. “Separate is not equal. That goes against the letter and spirit of the inclusionary housing ordinance.”

Mayor Tom Hayes said he wasn’t concerned that the affordable housing units were not integrated into the other six residential buildings and was pleased, overall, with the redevelopment proposal.

“It really fits the parcel,” Hayes said. “I like the mixed-use proposal.”

UrbanStreet, which is also the developer of the former Motorola site in Schaumburg, would act as the master developer for the 17-acre parcel and work with other developers for various build outs on the site, according to proposed project plans.

International Plaza was first developed in the early 1980s as part of a tax increment financing district that expires in 2037, which developers plan to leverage.

Although reviews on the redevelopment were mixed among board members and residents, the first step in the redevelopment process would be for the village to negotiate a purchase and sale agreement for some of the plaza property currently owned by the village. Then there could be plan reviews by the Housing and Plan commissions before the Village Board would vote on the plans, officials explained.

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelancer.

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August 23, 2022 at 06:36PM

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