Local News | My Suburban Life

334-unit apartment development approved for Wheaton’s downtown

In the latest sign of downtown Wheaton’s broadening appeal, a major residential development is set to reshape a traditionally sleepy section of the city’s core.

A Deerfield developer has won City Council approval to forge ahead with plans for a seven-story apartment building that aims to reinvigorate the downtown’s south side. It’s the largest apartment project to move ahead downtown in about a decade.

The complex will span the whole city block bounded by Liberty Drive to the north, Hale Street to the east, Willow Avenue to the south and Wheaton Avenue to the west.

The redevelopment plans come at the tail end of a $35 million project funded by the city to bring new infrastructure, streetscape and public gathering spaces to the shopping and dining district. City officials have hailed the apartment project as key to sustaining the downtown’s rejuvenation and future growth.

“This project represents a significant investment in our downtown and will support the vibrancy of our downtown for a long time,” City Council member Suzanne Fitch said.

The City Council on Aug. 1 agreed to rezone the downtown site to allow construction of the 334-unit complex. Council member Lynn Robbins was the lone dissenting vote. Robbins previously echoed concerns from nearby neighbors about density issues. Other residents have had reservations about traffic.

The developer initially planned to knock down four older buildings: the Egg Harbor Cafe restaurant, a four-story brick office building formerly occupied by Wheaton Bank & Trust, the Perfect Thing consignment store and a house used as offices on Willow Avenue.

Banner Real Estate now has deals to acquire adjacent corner properties, allowing the apartment complex to take up nearly 2.6 acres downtown.

When completed, the building will offer a range of housing options for commuters and empty nesters, officials said. The development will consist of 54 studio apartments, 135 one-bedroom units, 128 two-bedroom units and 17 three-bedroom townhouses. Egg Harbor will move into a 4,502-square-foot, first-floor space at the northeast corner of the new building.

“We’ve talked about the downsizing in the community, that people want to sell their homes and stay in the community,” Mayor Phil Suess said before the council formally approved the apartment plans. “There’s demand for that space.”

Residents of the building will have about a two-block walk to the Metra station and easy access to an al fresco dining scene on Hale Street. Electric charging stations will be installed in a private, indoor parking garage. A Pace bus stop will be directly in front of the building.

According to Tom Suminski, president of Banner Multifamily LLC, the complex is projected to generate about $1.6 million in additional property tax revenue during its first year. About 65% of that sum would go to Wheaton-Warrenville District 200.