THORNTON | A divided Village Board on Monday shot down plans to construct an independent senior housing residence at 400 E. Margaret St.
Jake Weiss, of Weiss Properties Inc., gave a presentation in front of a packed Village Hall chambers as he sought a special use permit and a zoning variance to construct a five-story building with 50 apartments for seniors at least 62 years old.
"It will allow us to go and take a piece of property that really has negative value today and put a $9.7 million new building up there," Weiss said.
The project had received initial approval in May from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The second part of the application process regarding funding is due to the state at the end of the month.
Weiss said about 70 percent of the overall dollars for the project would come through the Development Authority.
The goal was to demolish the existing buildings at the site to make room for the senior residence, while plans called for the adjacent Thornton Brewery building, built in 1876, to be remodeled and reopen for business.
A body shop and an automotive repair shop are located at the eastern end of the site, along with an abandoned warehouse building.
Weiss said he has explored many options for the site without success over the approximately nine years he has owned it.
Trustee Dave Hudson questioned whether the project would provide ample parking for both residents of the senior residence and patrons of the brewery.
Trustee Judy Diekelman said the property is located in a floodplain and expressed concern over parking on the lower level of the proposed construction.
Prior to the board's vote on the requested permit and zoning variance, Village President Jack Swan asked the approximately 50 residents in attendance to indicate their support for the proposed project. Most raised their hands in approval of it.
Swan asked that as each trustee cast his or her vote for or against the project they explain their reasons for voting either way. The trustees did not comply with Swan's request.
Only Trustees Kim Atkinson and David Kolosh voted in favor of granting the permit and variance, while Diekelman, Hudson, Ernest "Bo" Kaye and Joe Pisarzewski voted no.
"We just passed up the largest possible development this community will ever see," Swan said.
Pisarzewski said the board was given just six days to consider the project and that he would like to get the input of seniors in the village.
"I like to talk to the residents before I really make a decision," Pisarzewski said. "I don't want to build something that our town is not going to use."
Kolosh said he was disappointed with the board's decision.
"When I ran for trustee I really wanted to try to redevelop this town and make it nicer for the residents and there's just no support with the board for doing something like that," he said.