Johnsburg sees more rental housing interest from developers

One development going through planning process, a second in early talks with the village

This is an architect's rendering of townhome style rental homes proposed by General Capital in the village of Johnsburg, as of Nov. 4, 2022.

Johnsburg is not a town known for its rental housing, village officials say.

Until recently, there was one apartment building in town, said Village Administrator Claudett Sofiakis.

While rental houses were available from individual owners, the village saw that it needed opportunities for both those over age 55 and for young families. The village looked at its needs for rental and affordable housing as far back as its 2006 Route 31 Corridor Comprehensive Plan, Sofiakis said.

Now, two apartment developers, General Capital and Redwood Homes LLC, are in talks with the village to construct more rental units.

“Diversified housing alternatives are a vital component of a balanced and healthy community,” said Village President Ed Hettermann this week.

The developments “will provide housing options that are much needed and not currently available in Johnsburg,” Hettermann added.

General Capital came before the village board with its first proposal in January 2022. The company also renovated the former Bush Elementary School, creating 68 units for those aged 55 and older. That project, Berkshire Johnsburg, was finished about a year ago and is now occupied, Sofiakis said.

This time around, General Capital is proposing what the company calls workforce housing: rental units directed at families and young people in the working world. The proposal calls for 49 townhome style rental units at Route 31 and Johnsburg Road. The townhomes would be clustered in seven-unit buildings and include one-, two- and three-bedroom rentals, Sofiakis said.

Sig Strautmanis of General Capital told the village board that some units would be available to rent for families earning up to 80% of the area’s median income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, McHenry County’s median income is just over $40,000 per year. Rents in affordable housing units are generally one-third of the resident’s income.

General Capital is seeking federal tax credits for the project, Sofiakis said. Tax credits, part of Section 42 of the IRS tax code, offers private equity investment in affordable housing construction. Residents can make a set percentage of the region’s median income and qualify for reduced rents in the buildings, based on what they earn.

A second developer, Redwood Homes LLC, has been in preliminary talks with the village. The company presented its idea to the Development and Governmental Affairs Committee over the summer, Sofiakis said.

Redwood’s proposed site would sit near the Angelo’s Market, Johnsburg Village Hall and Sunnyside Park. In early plans, the company said it is looking at 118 attached, ranch-style rentals geared toward empty nesters, according to village board minutes. Each home includes a two-car garage, private entrances and patio space.

Redwood also hosted an informational meeting with neighbors on Dec. 7.

In its presentation at that meeting, Redwood said 70% of its residents are empty nesters, with an average age of 51-1/2 years old. On average, company officials said, 100 of its units provides a total of seven school-aged children to local schools.

Redwood said its rents range between $1,747 to $2,759 a month.

Both projects would be connected to the village’s sewer and water systems, Sofiakis added.

She emphasized that the Redwood project “is just a conversation now” and no formal hearings have been requested. It is expected to appear in a planning and zoning agenda in 2023, Sofiakis said.

Neither developer has requested impact fee reductions or allowances, Sofiakis said, while noting that Redwood’s location near Sunnyside Park could allow for more amenities in the park.

If both housing products come to fruition, having them on the village sewer and water system will help support that system, she added. Large portions of of homes in the village are on private well and septic systems now.

More housing should also bring more commercial to the village, according to the village officials.

“To entice commercial development you need the rooftops” of nearby homes, Sofiakis said.

“These developments can potentially draw new commercial development to our Downtown District and the Route 31 corridor,” Hettermann said.