Vernon Hills mulls apartment complex plan
Vernon Hills officials are reviewing plans for a proposed 304-unit apartment complex along U.S. Route 45 on the site of the former Kelly’s Day Camp property near Corporate Woods Parkway.
The Vernon Hills Village Board reviewed preliminary plans for The Oaks of Vernon Hills at a committee of the whole meeting on July 24 and also discussed potential traffic impacts from the proposed development on Route 45.
Chicago-based Kinzie real estate and Hamilton Partners are partnering on the project, which proposes 304 rental units in 16 buildings and a 4,200-square-foot clubhouse facility.
Warren James, a principal for Kinzie Real Estate, said the proposed apartment complex recognizes a shift in the housing market in recent years and increased demand for more rental housing. “One bright spot in the housing market in recent years is multi-family housing,” he said.
James said many young people between the ages of 25 and 34 are deferring the purchase of homes because of concerns about the sluggish single-family housing market and are instead looking for quality rental housing.
The new luxury apartment units would also appeal to “empty nesters,” seniors who want to remain in the community but no longer have a need for a house. James added that many professionals who have been transferred to the area by their companies, perhaps on a temporary assignment, also are looking for rental housing.
‘Plenty of need’
“For those reasons, we think there is plenty of need out there,” he said. “We’ve seen home ownership decline since the housing bubble burst. For many people, renting is the appropriate choice.”
Hamilton Partners had originally purchased the property in the mid-2000s with plans to build an office park at that location. The property was previously granted preliminary approval by the village for approximately 315,000 square feet of office, industrial and retail space in 2009, but that project was suspended due to the economic downturn.
Initial plans for the proposed apartment complex were presented to the Village Board back in April, but village officials wanted more information about potential traffic impacts of the project on Route 45, including a full traffic study. Kinzie and its traffic consultant completed the study and presented it to the Village Board at the July 24 meeting.
Assistant Village Manager John Kalmar and Village Engineer/Public Works Director David Brown said the study looked at the potential for a traffic signal at the entrance of the development or on Corporate Woods Parkway but the study found a traffic signal would likely not improve traffic flow along the corridor. The project proposes a main entrance to the apartment complex along Route 45 across from Writer Court and a right-in, right-out access east of there on Route 45.
Vernon Hills officials also discussed the possibility of a separate east-west access that would connect up to Corporate Woods Parkway to hopefully alleviate traffic impacts along Route 45. The developers said they would look into the possibility or acquiring an easement or potentially purchasing property for that purpose.
Vernon Hills Trustee James Schultz said he feels “more comfortable” the proposed development would not create an unnecessary traffic burden on Route 45, particularly if the developer were to able secure another access point on Corporate Woods Parkway. “All in all, I’ve gotten a better comfortable level with this project,” said Schultz.
But Trustee Thomas Koch said there’s no escaping the fact the project would mean more traffic on Route 45.
“Route 45 is still heavily traveled, and we’re adding to it,” he said.
The project will now go through a technical review process by the village staff and hearings before the Vernon Hills Planning and Zoning Commission before coming back to the Village Board for further consideration later this year or early next year.