Trustees say no to affordable housing project

Madhu Mayer - mm@thetimesweekly.com | 2/26/2020, 10:14 p.m.
A developer is proposing a project in the Village of Plainfield to build affordable housing complex in the community. Village ...

A developer is proposing a project in the Village of Plainfield to build affordable housing complex in the community.

Village trustees during Monday's committee of the whole reviewed the concept plan for the Plainfield Village Center project that was originally annexed as part of the Wallin Woods residential development during the mid 1990s. The 37-acre parcel is south of Lockport Street between Wallin Drive and Van Dyke Road.

Developer Clayton Olsen and his partners are proposing a series of modifications to the original approved plan that called for 800 residential units and more than 200,000 square feet of commercial development. The revised plan now proposes 22 duplex homes, 93 townhome rental units and 282 apartments comprising of six four-story buildings of 47 units each. The unit mix will consist of 24 studio, 120 one-bedroom and 138 two-bedroom apartments.

Trustee Brian Wojowski said the project would bring too many people to downtown Plainfield and add pressure to the already crowded Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202.

The proposed monthly rents for the apartments would range from $1,300 to $1,800. The buildings that would have elevators are targeted to young professionals, according to the developers.

Future phases could include a hotel at the southwest corner of Lockport Street and Van Dyke Road, and additional mixed use that would entail apartments over businesses fronting Lockport Street, according to the proposal.

"The new concept plan clusters the townhome buildings on the east half of the project with the townhome units located to the west," said Jonathan Proulx, director of planning for the Village of Plainfield. "The duplex homes continue to provide a transition between the existing Wallin Woods single-family home neighborhood and Plainfield Village Center between Ingersoll Street and Van Dyke Road."

A clubhouse amenity with pool, which would serve both apartments and the townhome units, is proposed in the central area of the plan, Proulx said.

Olsen said “it makes sense to have a multi-unit housing development in downtown Plainfield as the population within a three-mile radius of the project is 41,665, and average household size is 3.3. Population in this area that has grown since the 2010 census and the trend is projected to continue over the net five years.”

But village trustee Cally Larson wasn’t convinced.

"I have concerns with the tightness," Larson said regarding the proposed density. "I don't think the rental aspect is well perceived. I have concerns with the 600 square feet (of studio rental apartment)," which, Larson said, is too small in size.

Trustee Harry Benton said “the project was not well perceived because the rent might be too high.” Also, he said “renting in Plainfield may not be too marketable because there isn't a Metra train service in the community to make it attractive for renters who travel to work in downtown Chicago.”

Village trustee Kevin Calkins expects traffic in the area to get worse if the project moves forward.

"This is not a right part of town for this," he said. "How does this contribute to downtown and the town overall."