MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF WILMETTE AND
THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
HELD IN THE COUNCIL ROOM OF WILMETTE VILLAGE HALL
MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2003
Written notice of said meeting was given to the Commissioners, Trustees, the Wilmette Life and the New Trier Times in accordance with the Wilmette Park District Code, Section 2103, and Section 2.02 of the Open Meetings Act.
Village President Canafax called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
PRESENT: Village President Nancy Canafax, Trustees Yip-Wah Chung, Jim Griffith, Patrick Hughes, Mary E.(Beth) Lambrecht, Bernard Michna, George Pearce, Park Board President Richard Marcus, Commissioners Cecelia Carlson, Diana Cohen, Jim Crowley, David Miller, Dennis O’Malley, Henry Wolff
VISITORS: See attached sheets.
Village President Canafax welcomed those in attendance and announced that this is a joint meeting of the Village Board and the Park Board to hear presentations from the three developers who are finalists for the adaptive re-use of the Mallinckrodt Building. Ms. Canafax noted that after the presentations are concluded, there will be time for questions and comments from the public and members of both boards.
Park Board President Richard Marcus briefly reviewed the history of the Mallinckrodt project which began in October 2001 when the community became aware of Loyola University’s decision to sell the 17 acre Mallinckrodt property and subsequently entered into an agreement with James Partners to construct single family homes on the property. A group of residents approached the Park District to purchase the property to be used for park land and were asked to submit petitions from the community to demonstrate to the Park District that there was support for a referendum for the purchase of the land. Petitions with over 5,400 signatures were submitted and a referendum was placed on the March 20, 2002 election ballot with the following question:
SHALL BONDS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS TO THE AMOUNT OF $25,000,000 BE ISSUED FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACQUIRING, IMPROVING AND MAINTAINING, FOR PARK PURPOSES, THE LAND COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS THE MALLINCKRODT COLLEGE PROPERTY AND COMMONLY KNOWN AS 1041 RIDGE AVENUE, WILMETTE, ILLINOIS AND FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES INCIDENT THERETO?
President Marcus noted that the referendum passed by a substantial margin, and the Park District proceeded to negotiate for the property, which was purchased in September 2002. During negotiations, the Park District asked Loyola to consider selling just the open space to the Park District. Loyola declined this option and the Park District acquired the entire property. President Marcus explained that during the time prior to and after the referendum, there were numerous discussions at both Park Board and Village Board meetings, public hearings, and articles in the local newspapers as well as in the Park District and Village websites and publications. It was always made very clear that the Park District’s mandate is to provide parks and recreation to the community, and the District does not have the authority to buy and sell property for purposes other than for park and recreation use. However, if an appropriate re-use could be found for the building, the Park District would be willing to work with the Village under the guidelines of the Local Government Property Transfer Act to save the building. Otherwise, the Park District would have to demolish the building. To this end, the Park District and the Village developed a Request for Proposals and thirteen proposals were received. A joint meeting of both boards was held in December of 2002 to update the community on the status of the project and to hear comments from the community regarding the proposals. President Marcus stated that the Park District and the Village have worked together very cooperatively to determine the feasibility of an adaptive re-use of the building and what type of development would best serve the needs of the community.
President Marcus stated that the project is now at the point where three developers have met the parameters set forth by the Park District. These criteria include compatibility with the neighborhood, compatibility with the adjoining park land, community access to portions of the building, and value to the community, primarily purchase price. He added that the three developers being considered for this project have each proposed a different concept for the re-use of the Mallinckrodt Building. At this point, it is up to the Village to determine which, if any, of the developers meet the Village’s criteria, and which proposal would best suit the needs and desires of the community.
DEVELOPERS’ PRESENTATIONS: The three presentations were accompanied by visual materials showing drawings of the planned layouts and interiors of the proposed facilities.
ACTIVE LIVING OF WILMETTE, LLC
Sheldon Baskin of Active Living of Wilmette stated that he and his associates have been developing, funding and managing real estate for about 40 years, primarily in the Chicago Metropolitan area, and they have special expertise in the area of affordable housing. Mr. Baskin noted that he has worked with several local governments, such as Highland Park and Wilmette, and is currently working in Glenview on a project with the Sisters of the Holy Spirit. In addition, his company has managed over 7,000 market rate and affordable apartments, including Gates Manor in Wilmette, and has had a continuous relationship with Wilmette for almost thirty years.
The Active Living proposal, as presented by development team members Ken Barnes and Jim Buchholz, is to develop 95 rental apartments for seniors 62 years of age and older, 20 percent of which would be at affordable rents. There would be 38 one bedroom units and 57 two bedroom units with 106 surface parking places and 52 underground parking spots in addition to 97 spots that would be for shared use with the Park District and the community. The market rate monthly rents would range from $1,580 to $3,200 with the affordable units priced at about $1,000. Mr. Barnes explained that the affordable rent was based on residents earning 80% of the median income for the area.
Rena Appell, another member of the development team, spoke about the use of the chapel. She stated that she has been trying to identify potential uses for the chapel and has spoken to various groups and individuals who are interested in using the chapel for community services and/or events. Ms. Appell stated that the chapel could be used as a senior center for both residents of the building and Village residents. There is also the possibility of use of the chapel for cultural events and classes, and perhaps even as a day care center. The building has superior acoustics so a performance center is a very feasible use. In any case, the chapel is seen as a community resource by the developers, and would be set aside for community use.
The Active Living group also noted that the Illinois Office of Historic Preservation has determined that the building and chapel are eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, which means that local, State and Federal agencies will be very involved with the development of the building. This would be the third historic preservation project done by Active Living.
PATHWAY SENIOR LIVING
Jim Keledjian, Principal of Pathway Senior Living, stated that Pathway’s proposal for adaptive re-use of the Mallinckrodt Building is for an assisted living facility. He noted that a great number of seniors live within a three mile radius of this property and approximately 3,000 of them are above the age of 80. Many of these people require some assistance with daily living, and there are no assisted living facilities presently operating closer than in Des Plaines.
Development team member Bob Helle explained that the initial offering would be to Wilmette seniors 65 years of age and older. Services would include three meals per day, social services, a personal attendant on duty, some limited nursing services, and transportation to the hospital, if necessary. He emphasized that this would not be a skilled care facility and that residents would have to be fully ambulatory to qualify for residency.
Joe Behles, the project architect, stated that the facility would be developed in full compliance with historic preservation guidelines. It would consist of 140 units, 125 of which would be studio units, and 15 of which would be two bedroom, two bathroom apartments. The chapel space would be reserved for use by a community organization or a group of community organizations. Mr. Behles added that he had looked at aspects of the Village’s Code and Zoning Ordinance and he feels that this concept would be a great fit for the Village of Wilmette. There would be no need for additional parking.
Mr. Helle added that he would like to see the chapel used as a senior center, which could provide a nice transition for people who may have to eventually live at the facility.
Mr. Keledjian stated that the all-inclusive costs would be approximately $3,500-$4,500 a month at standard rates and approximately $2,300-$2,500 per month for the affordable units. He added that the facility planned to take advantage of the State’s Medicaid subsidies, which are expected to resume soon, so that a resident who runs out of funds can continue to live in the facility. Mr. Keledjian explained that these rates are very affordable for this type of facility, in part because of the tax credits that will be available for this project. He noted that the average price at similar facilities is approximately $4,000-$5,000 per month.
OCULUS DEVELOPMENT LLC/THE PICKUS COMPANIES
Joel Pickus, Vice President of the Pickus Company, stated that Pickus has developed over 350 condominium units over the past four years. Their proposal for an adaptive re-use of the Mallinckrodt Building is for an 80 unit condo project consisting of two one bedroom units, 29 two bedroom units, 33 two bedroom/den units, and 16 three bedroom/den units for seniors 60 years of age and older with Wilmette residents given first preference. The parking requirements would be for 97 spaces below grade with 80 spaces at grade level totaling 177 spaces. The plan for the chapel is to build and furnish an approximately 9,350 square foot community center, which will be open to the residents as well as to the general public with programming and activities to be administered by the Village and/or the Park District. Amenities would include a large multi use social hall that can be divided into smaller rooms, fitness facility, billiards room, library, parlor, and a catering kitchen. This center could serve as a social hub for seniors by providing daily activities as well as a place to relax or enjoy the company of friends in comfortable surroundings. It will also have the capability to host events, shows and other community wide functions. This area would be donated to the community.
Don Gianone, President of Oculus Development, explained that his group has been involved in the development of approximately 2,000 senior citizen affordable housing units and they know how to work with tax credits and subsidies. Their historic preservation plan is to apply to the Illinois Landmark Preservation Council for a façade easement which would generate a tax credit to be split among the unit owners as charitable contributions on their income tax, and would guarantee that the building could never be demolished. The discounted units will range in price from approximately $208,000 each for two one bedroom units and $280,000 for 16 two bedroom units. Mr. Gianone explained that using the premise that a family should spend no more than 30% of their income on housing, a formula which took into account real estate taxes, monthly assessment costs and mortgage payments was used to come up with the prices for the affordable units.
Raymond Hart, 800 Ridge Road stated that he is a member of MUM (Mixed Use for Mallinckrodt) and has lived in Wilmette for over 50 years and with the help of community services, has been fortunate to be able to continue to live in the Village in affordable housing at the Atrium. He would like other senior citizens in Wilmette to have the same opportunities and more affordable housing is needed in this Village. However, he feels that the costs he has heard quoted at this meeting are too high and would not qualify as "affordable".
Elizabeth Phillips, 531 Eighth Street identified herself as a member of MUM, which actively advocated for a mixed use approach for the Mallinckrodt Building since the beginning of the process. She stated that none of the three proposals as presented tonight meet the goals of MUM and of the Village of Wilmette’s Comprehensive Plan which calls for offering affordable housing in Wilmette. She stated that there are members of the community who have incomes as low as, and some lower than, $20,000 per year, which is within the poverty level, and the units proposed are not affordable enough for the people who really need this type of housing. She noted that there are waiting lists of primarily Wilmette residents at the Atrium, Gates Manor, and Shoreline Place. Ms. Phillips urged both boards to reject all three of the proposals as submitted and seek proposals for real affordable housing. Also, MUM would like to see a ratio of 40% affordable/60% market rate and for a significant number of the units to be two bedroom apartments. She also recommended that the formula to qualify for affordable housing should be based on 60% of the median income. She further recommended that the purchase price of the building be lowered to help achieve the goal of offering real affordable housing in the community.
Richard Koenig, 1000 Skokie Blvd. stated that he is the Executive Director of the Housing Opportunities Development Corporation, which is dedicated to creating affordable housing throughout the northern suburbs. He noted that this organization was involved in the development of the Atrium, Gates Manor, and Shoreline Place. He stated that the three plans presented this evening do not respond to what the community has been requesting. He noted that his organization had attempted to develop a plan that would best serve the community, but the purchase price was too low and the proposal was rejected. The plan would have created housing units that people with incomes as low as $20,000 a year could have afforded. He urged the boards to reconsider other proposals or ask that the three finalists revise their proposals to offer really affordable housing. He noted that that if there was some type of financial assistance from the governmental agencies, the debt incurred would be offset by the additional tax revenues.
Peter Knobel, 150 Central Ave. stated that none of these proposals are actually the affordable housing that the community wants. He cited the situation of his sister, who has had her income greatly reduced due to current economic factors. When she is no longer able to afford her modest home in Wilmette, which is probably in the fairly near future, she would certainly not be able to afford any of the three options presented tonight. He feels there are many people in the community in the same circumstances and that the boards should look to other options which would serve the needs of people such as his sister.
Jean Cleland, 810 Forest identified herself as a lifelong resident of Wilmette and a member of MUM. She stated that she echoes the comments of her colleagues who had already spoken. She doesn’t feel that the options of apartments or condos meet the needs of the community and qualify as affordable housing. She noted that she is not enthusiastic about having an assisted living facility in the Mallinckrodt Building, and said that she knows of no waiting lists at assisted living facilities in the area. Ms. Cleland quoted some statistics regarding the number of seniors in Wilmette who live at or below the poverty level and seek financial assistance from various social services and State agencies. It was noted that 25% of Wilmette’s senior headed households earn less than $35,000 per year. Therefore, the formula of 80% of the median income to qualify for the affordable housing units is not appropriate and the ratio of 20% affordable/80% market rate falls far short of what is actually needed for many seniors in Wilmette. Ms. Cleland urged the boards to reject the three proposals as submitted and seek an option for the re-use of the Mallinckrodt Building that truly addresses the need for affordable housing in Wilmette. She distributed informational sheets with statistical information compiled by MUM to each of the trustees and commissioners.
Gail Schechter, 2233 Lake stated that she is a member of MUM as well as the Executive Director of the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs. She thanked the Park District and the Village for their responsible stewardship of the Mallinckrodt property. She noted that there is concern whether it would be legal for the Park District to sell the building for less than the purchase price, and the Park District’s desire to recoup some of the bond debt for the Wilmette taxpayers. However, she has researched this issue and found that the Park District has the legal authority to sell the building for whatever price they wish. She noted that the voters of Wilmette had approved the bond issue for purchase of the property and that affordable housing in the community is a public trust. She added that she would like to see a 60% market rate/40% affordable concept with the majority of units as two bedroom apartments. At this point, none of the three proposals presented tonight meet these criteria.
Mimi Ryan, 3136 Sprucewood, a member of MUM, stated that she has watched Wilmette grow in many ways over the years and she feels that it is a very caring community. Over the years, the Village has done some wonderful things with affordable housing, but there is definitely a need for more real affordable housing than is offered in any of the three proposals under discussion. It is felt that the Park District and the Village do not have the responsibility to offer market rate housing, but there is a moral imperative to do something good with the Mallinckrodt Building for people who cannot afford the housing that is available. The prices for housing in these proposals are too high. Ms. Ryan stated that it is not necessary for the Park District to get $3 to 4 million for the building. Perhaps if the price of the building was reduced, the developers would be able to offer truly affordable housing. She feels that when the community voted in favor of the referendum for a bond issue to purchase the property, they realized what the cost to the taxpayer would be and did not expect the Park District to recoup any of the funds.
Regina Quintana, 809 Leamington stated that as a member of CALM (Citizens Action League for Mallinckrodt), she has been involved in the process from its inception. She likes the idea of creating an independent living facility in the building rather than an assisted living facility. She also thinks it is very important to preserve the chapel for community use. If more affordable housing could be offered, that would be a perfect use for the property.
Randy Cohn, 210 Kilpatrick stated that he is speaking as a private citizen and does not belong to any group. He noted that there are special interest groups in the community that are very active on this issue, but in his opinion, the majority of the taxpayers in Wilmette have not been involved in the decision making for this building and perhaps there should be another referendum. He feels that the best solution might be to tear the building down and put up a facility that would bring the most tax dollars back to the community.
Christine Crosh, 2339 Thornwood stated that perhaps the best course of action at this time would be to "mothball" the building for a few years as none of the proposed uses seem to be the best re-use of the building for the community. She pointed out that this had worked very well with New Trier West.
Nan Hoff, 2024 Greenwood asked if Pathway was one of the original 13 developers and also inquired where the 80% market rate/20% affordable formula originated.
In response to Ms. Hoff’s question regarding the 80/20 formula, President Canafax explained that the 80/20 concept came from several sources. After doing research on similar projects in the area, such as a facility in Highland Park, It was felt that it would take 80% market rate units to support 20% affordable units. Also, the Housing Commission suggested the 20% figure based on the waiting list that exists at the Atrium.
Michelle Bamberger, 913 Columbus noted that Pathway Senior Living’s original proposal was submitted under the name of Mallinckrodt Partnership and was a different proposal as resubmitted. She also recommended that there be 40% affordable housing provided rather than the 20/80 mix as currently proposed.
VILLAGE BOARD/PARK BOARD DISCUSSION:
Village President Canafax stated that since it had been brought up during community comment, she wanted to first discuss the possibility of another referendum. She noted that it has been almost two years since this process began. There have been numerous public hearings both before and after the referendum and a great deal of community discussion and publicity given to the issue. For this reason, there was unanimous agreement among members of both boards, that it would not be in the best interests of this community to have another referendum on this issue.
Park Board Commissioner Cecelia Carlson stated that at this point, the three proposals under consideration for adaptive re-use of the Mallinckrodt Building meet the needs and satisfy the criteria of the Park District, and would allow the Park District to proceed with the development of the remainder of the property that is consistent with the Park District’s mission. Now it is a matter of the Village working with the developers to meet the community’s housing needs.
Village Trustee Michna inquired about the timetable for completion of the project once a decision is made. It was the general consensus that it would be about a 14 month process and probably completion would be by the fall of 2005. Active Living stated that their timetable might be a bit shorter.
Village Trustee Hughes stated that he wished to address Mr. Cohn’s suggestion about demolishing the building and selling it to a developer for a new structure,. He explained that it was agreed upon by both boards from the outset of the process that the only consideration would be an adaptive re-use of the building. It was also agreed that no new structure could be added to the building. He noted from the beginning, the Park District made clear that if no appropriate adaptive re-use could be found, the building would be demolished and the area would be used for parkland.
There was extensive discussion regarding the possibility of offering a greater percentage of affordable units and finding ways to make the units more affordable. Park Board Commissioner Cohen expressed concerns about what she had heard regarding the affordable housing offered in the three proposals which led to discussion about the possibility of revising the formula for calculating eligibility for affordable housing, increasing the percentage of affordable units offered, and finding ways to lower the rental or purchase prices of the units.
The developers answered questions about the use of tax credits and the effect of lowering the purchase price of the building. There was also discussion about the zoning process and the possibility of the need for some variances.
Park Board President Marcus thanked all those in attendance and those who addressed the boards. He encouraged the community to stay involved in the process and to communicate their concerns and recommendations to either or both boards. He noted that the Village Board will continue discussion of this issue at their next Board meeting. He stated that the Park District and the Village will continue to work together towards determining the project which will be in the best interests of the community.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
Minutes approved on July 14, 2003