Apartment project moving forward after St. Charles mayor casts tiebreaking vote

St. Charles aldermen as well as nearby residents are voicing concerns about the size of a 340-unit apartment community being proposed near the city’s east side.

Plans to build 320 apartments on the city’s east side have been given the green light after St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek on Monday night cast a tiebreaking vote in favor of the project.

Vitek had to break a 4-4 tie at Monday’s St. Charles City Council meeting. Wisconsin-based Continental Properties plans to build 320 apartments on 27.5 acres on the north side of Smith Road at Pheasant Trail known as the Petkus property as part of the Springs at St. Charles project. Previous plans for the Springs at St. Charles project called for 340 apartments.

The property is in Wayne Township, but St. Charles annexed the property under conditions of the boundary agreement between West Chicago and St. Charles.

Voting for the plans and the annexation agreement were 2nd Ward Alderperson Ryan Bongard, Third Ward Alderperson Paul Lencioni, 5th Ward Alderperson Ed Bessner and 5th Ward Alderperson Steve Weber.

Voting against the plan and the annexation agreement were 4th Ward Alderperson David Pietryla, 4th Ward Alderperson Bryan Wirball, 2nd Ward Alderperson Ron Silkaitis and 2nd Ward Alderperson Rita Payleitner.

There are 10 alderpersons on the City Council, but 3rd Ward Alderperson Todd Bancroft was absent from the meeting and there currently is a vacancy on the City Council.

Payleitner previously had voiced concerns that the project could interfere with plans to redevelop the nearby Charlestowne Mall.

“I want to be real clear on what benefit this project will bring to our northeast corridor,” she had said. “And is that benefit enough to risk development at the mall? If it was in our city limits, it would be a whole different story. I feel protective of what is within our limits, that we need to give that priority and give that consideration more so than bringing in another project. It’s a beautiful project, but I just feel strongly we need to finish one before starting another competing project.”

That concern also had been raised by a developer who had planned to raze the majority of the largely vacant mall to make way for 560 apartments and townhouses, a hotel, new restaurants and retail along East Main Street. Those plans have been shelved after several St. Charles alderpersons and plan commissioners questioned whether the proposal was the best plan for the site.

Silkaitis voiced similar concerns.

“Before we annex more property in St. Charles, I’d like to see us develop what we have already, which is why I voted no on the annexation agreement,” he said.

Lencioni backed the project.

“A healthy community needs a fair amount of apartments in it for young professionals,” he said. “It is going to be a high quality development.”

During Monday’s meeting, resident Ron Jaeger, who lives on Pheasant Court in St. Charles, voiced concerns about subsidized housing being part of the development. In response, Erik Hahn, of Continental Properties, told alderpersons that Continental requires that prospective residents prove they earn three times their monthly rent in order to receive approval for a lease.

He said at the Springs at South Elgin development in South Elgin that about 87% of the residents there earn more than $60,000 a year.

“Less than 1% earn between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, 12% earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year, 87% earn over $60,000 a year and 65% earn over $85,000 and up,” Hahn said.

He said rents in Springs at St. Charles will range from $1,510 for the smallest studio apartment to $2,250 for the largest three bedroom apartment.