An affordable housing project in the city of McHenry has been helped along by McHenry County to the tune of almost $2 million, but still will need other funding and final approval from City Council before construction begins.
The Taylor Place Apartments project is expected to cost a little less than $22 million and have 54 apartments, which are designated for those making anywhere between 30% and 80% of the area’s average median income, officials said.
The site, located at 812 N. Mill St. near Crystal Lake Street, currently has four industrial buildings and an office building. Ross Polerecky, director of community development with the city of McHenry, said the plan is to demolish the four industrial buildings and replace them with apartment units and garages.
The office space, which faces Crystal Lake Street and originally was built in the 19th century, will be repurposed, Polerecky said.
Jake Victor, vice president of development for developer Northpointe, said the goal is to have it go in front of the City Council sometime in May for final approval. Leading up to that, they are securing the remaining funds, he said.
The McHenry County Board approved $1.7 million total to help fund the project. A little less than half those funds – $800,000 approved by the McHenry County Board at its March 15 meeting – comes as part of the Advance McHenry County program, which is the county’s blueprint for doling out federal funding received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The remainder comes from HOME investment partnership grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, officials with the developer said.
The aim is to have the bulk of the project funded with tax credits through the Illinois Housing Development Authority, which the developers applied for earlier this year, Victor said. The IHDA is expected to deliver its decision by the end of May.
If the timeline and funding work out, Victor said he expects the project to break ground by the end of the year, with occupancy coming in 2024.
“Affordable housing has proven to be a need in the county in general,” Victor told the Northwest Herald. “We’re excited about all the support that’s been generated around the project.”
The apartments will include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment units. The cost of rent for the units will range depending on the tenant’s income, Victor said.
A one-bedroom unit will run somebody making 30% of the area’s median income – or about $20,000 per year for an individual and $25,000 for a family – about $400, while someone making 80% – or more than $50,000 for an individual and more than $60,000 for a family – will pay $1,000.
A two-bedroom unit will run $490 for someone earning 30% of the area’s median income and $1,250 for someone at 80%. A three-bedroom unit for someone at 30% of the area’s median income won’t exist, but someone making 50% – or about $32,000 for an individual or $40,000 for a family – will pay $1,000. For 80%, it’ll run $1,400.
“It’s designed to have a mix of incomes,” Victor said. “There are benefits to it.”
McHenry City Administrator Derik Morefield told the County Board the city expects the project to help redevelop a blighted area, bring in affordable housing, increase property values and draw new residents near Main Street.
The revitalization of Main Street is a big part of the project as well. City Planner Cody Sheriff said this is part of an effort to get industrial-type buildings out of Main Street.
“We designed this very intentionally in order to be a catalyst for redevelopment off of Main Street,” Victor said.
The McHenry City Council at a meeting in November gave a preliminary go-ahead for the project in a 4-2 vote. A few residents raised concerns about traffic along Crestwood Drive, which intersects with Mill Street along the property.
A big part of the discussion at the County Board’s March 15 meeting had to do with the price tag of the development. While several said they thought it was a worthy investment, a couple of members said they didn’t understand why the cost was so high.
McHenry County Board member Jeff Thorsen, R-Crystal Lake, took issue with the per-unit cost, which Victor told the Northwest Herald sits at about $400,000 per unit. Officials have stressed this cost is in line with others around the state.
“I’m still hung up on that number. … It doesn’t make sense to me,” Thorsen said. “This is tax dollars guys. This is all tax dollars.”
Board member Pamela Althoff, D-McHenry, who used to be the mayor of McHenry, said she would support the project at the meeting and encouraged other members to consider more than just the financial implications behind it.
“Don’t always make the financial cost of something make you take an immediate ‘no’ stance on it. Sometimes projects are larger than that,” she said. “This is a good project for the city of McHenry.”
The funding was approved in an 18-4 vote, with Thorsen, along with members Jeffrey Schwartz, R-McHenry; Michael Skala, R-Huntley; and Larry Smith, R-Harvard, voting against it.