DeKALB – A suburban complex in unincorporated DeKalb County long riddled by crime and maintenance issues could soon begin anew, if DeKalb County and city leaders move forward with annexation and sale plans for a north side rental community.
The DeKalb City Council voted, 8-0, Monday to authorize an intergovernmental agreement to move ahead with the residential development’s acquisition, repair and rehab. The vote now heads to the DeKalb County Board – expected later this month – for approval.
The developer, Clear Investment Group LLC, is eying a closing date as early as Oct. 1 but no later than March 1, 2023, to acquire the property title for the residential complex, Suburban Apartments and Estates, which is south of Twombly Road and west of North Annie Glidden Road just outside city limits. The plan includes a proposal to annex the property into the city.
Suburban Apartments and Estates, an 80-acre property comprised of 530 apartment units and a solar garden, is viewed by DeKalb city leaders as real estate they intend to raise to market standards. City and county leaders have also said annexation could allow for better property management for residents of the complex.
Though the properties fall along the northern border of city limits, jurisdiction since the properties were built in 1967 and rented primarily by Northern Illinois University students and faculty initially has fallen to DeKalb County government. Now, the rental facilities are home to mostly single family tenants. According to the DeKalb County Housing Authority, Section 8 housing vouchers are also offered for units at Suburban Apartments.
Over the years, the property has fallen into disarray, city and county officials said, citing crime and inadequate housing quality as a reason for wanting the change in ownership.
Clear Investment Group plans to invest about $30 million into the complex to pay for acquisition, repair and rehab costs.
Also under the pact, DeKalb County is committing $862,500 into an escrow account for water system upgrades for the complex, pending DeKalb County Board approval.
First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Morris asked if the city has the ability to handle the increased demand for water that incorporating residents of the complex into city limits would require.
City Manager Bill Nicklas said the city has the ability to draw 12 million units of water a day every two months at maximum capacity.
“We do have enough capacity to do this,” Nicklas said. “That does cost some money to produce that water, to pump it, to pull it from the ground, to process it. For each bimonthly cycle, there’s a cost. It would be $32,436. Now that’s full occupancy. 530 units times three people, or just under $200,000 annually.”
Among the stipulations to the agreement sets forth that, the developer will complete all of its property rehabilitation within 18 month from the date at which the city issues a permit, must update security camera systems in public and common areas with live feeds to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and the DeKalb Police Department and provide private security personnel as needed.
But while the complex would be incorporated into DeKalb under the new pact, residents would retain the services of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office for primary police protection for two years from the date of annexation, or three years from the developer’s closing, whichever is earlier, according to city documents.
DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan previously said sheriff’s deputies with the assistance of DeKalb police get called to the complex daily for 911 calls.
Third Ward Alderman Tracy Smith said he feels confident in the services of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office being retained, but he believes annexing the complex into the city is going to lead to the city needing to use more of its police officers.
Nicklas negated the concern.
“The difference is – although we may be there even first, we’re going to be there if it’s a major felony, a weapons offense or so forth, [and] we’re there until the incident wraps up – we don’t do most of the paperwork,” Nicklas said. “We would eventually be doing that in two years. But why are we arriving there so often now? This will not make any sense if we felt that was going to continue at pace. It has to change.”
Nicklas said that with better management and better security at the complex, the city may not need to call more upon officers from the city’s police department to report to duty.
The city first proposed the idea of establishing a development agreement with a developer for the complex in December 2021, according to city documents. Members of the county board’s decision on the intergovernmental agreement still looms. The county board’s next regular meeting is its Committee of the Whole scheduled Aug. 10, following by a full board meeting expected Aug. 17.