Tuesday night, the Oswego Village Board will hear a proposal to finish out the Mill Street Station portion of Fox Chase with affordable housing rental units. And village leaders are expecting to hear from concerned residents about it.
Mill Street Station was approved in 2005, and was meant to contain 84 townhome units at the northeast corner of Orchard and Mill roads. Five buildings containing 21 of those units were built, according to Community Development Director Rod Zenner, before developer Steve Carr Builders called a halt to it.
The last building permit was issued in September of 2009, Zenner wrote in a memo to the board members, and since then, the property has been unfinished. Sidewalks have not been finished, the streets need a final layer of asphalt, and landscaping still needs to be done, Zenner said. The Mill Street Station property is now owned by West Suburban Bank.
But now a group of investors is proposing to buy and finish the Mill Street Station subdivision as initially planned, with the intention of offering the 63 new townhome units as rentals, under the Affordable Workforce Housing Tax Credit Program. This federal program will give developers Ryan Companies tax credits to build the units, as long as they are rented out to people making 60% or less of the area’s median income.
That means, Zenner said, that a family of four moving into these units cannot make more than $55,000 per year to qualify. The developer also has to remain in control of the property for at least 15 years, and the owner in this case will be Jim Bergman of Iowa, who has 23 years of development and ownership experience.
The new proposal includes office space for an on-site manager and a tot lot near that office, to provide neighborhood children with a place to play, Zenner said.
Bergman owns more than 2,200 units in five different states, according to information provided to the Village Board.
On May 17, Bergman and Ryan Companies presented their plan to a group of adjacent homeowners, in a meeting at . According to Zenner’s memo, residents at that meeting were concerned about the value of their homes, with the change from owner-occupied properties to rentals.
Some residents were pleased that the look of the new townhomes would match the existing ones, and some said the new units would “stabilize the value of the existing homes,” Zenner wrote.
Stacy Krisch, who lives in Fox Chase Estates, said she plans to attend tonight's meeting, and she's bringing about a dozen of her neighbors with her. She said that if this development comes to pass, she believes her property values will go down, and crime rates will go up.
Homeowners in Fox Chase Estates, she said, have paid between $300,000 and $500,000 for their homes, and have already taken a financial beating in the recent recession.
"I think that if this development passes, you'll see for sale signs in every house the next day," she said.
Village President Brian LeClercq said the affordable housing income requirement is roughly equal to the amount made by first-year teachers and police officers. He’s more concerned, he said, about the fact that these will be rental properties, since the village has more issues with rentals than owner-occupied homes.
LeClercq said he expects residents of Fox Chase to come out to tonight’s meeting and let him know where they stand. Bergman and Ryan Companies need a letter of support from the village to obtain their tax credit, and LeCercq said the board is prepared to listen.
“I’m very interested in having that conversation,” he said. “It’s important that we all get together and discuss it.”
The Village Board’s Committee of the Whole meets tonight at 6 p.m. at , 100 Parkers Mill. The meeting is free and open to the public.