Palos Heights officials Tuesday laid the groundwork for a proposed senior-living community at Route 83 and Harlem Avenue.
The City Council voted unanimously to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance approving the sale of 1.16 acres of city property for the Spectrum development project.
The sale of the parcel is contingent upon the developer, Spectrum Retirement Communities, receiving final approvals from the City Council of its plans to build a 180-unit senior residence on the site of the former Crown and later Rizza Buick dealership on the northeast corner of Route 83 and Harlem.
The city intends to sell its 1.16-acre parcel on the 8-acre site to Spectrum for $25,000, the appraised price determined by appraiser William H. Metz & Associates Inc.
The city obtained the parcel years ago through a no-cash bid program by Cook County at no cost, city attorney Tom Brown pointed out “The city got it for zero dollars and now will sell it for $25,000,” he added.
Aldermen had no questions and offered no discussion about the planned land sale. The motion to authorize it was made after Mayor Bob Straz briefly presented it under his report to the council.
Spectrum’s plans to build a retirement community easily sailed to unanimous preliminary approval by Palos Heights’ seven-member Planning and Zoning Commission in June. That body must hear it again in order to make its final recommendation to the City Council.
Spectrum seeks city approval to build a 180-unit, two- and four-story building consisting of 96 independent-living and 84 assisted-living and memory-care units, according to Spectrum senior development Vice President Mike Longfellow’s presentation to plan commissioners last June.
The total cost to build it would be more than $30 million, Longfellow has said.
Under a best case scenario, Spectrum could break ground on the building in spring 2017 and open it by late 2018, Longfellow said in June. Spectrum is now in the process of seeking county, state and other regulatory approvals it needs. One approval that may be needed is that of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), which owns some of the land on the parcel that is leased by the city for Lake Katherine. The Illinois Department of Transportation must also approve plans for ingress and egress for the community.
Of the triangular-shaped site’s 8 acres, 5.8 acres would be taken up by the senior living building, and 2.25 acres closest to Harlem Avenue reserved for commercial development.
Spectrum is the owner/operator of 33 properties in 11 states, concentrated in the Midwest, especially the Chicago area. It employs 2,200 people, 20 in development who design and build communities for the operations department to run.
Senior living as defined by Longfellow puts an emphasis on the social aspects of lifestyle activities. Each Spectrum facility has up to 45 percent common areas, or amenities space – dining rooms, bistros, libraries, lounges, game rooms, a movie theater and other features that “support lifestyle enrichment.”
The senior living facility would have 112 parking spaces to cover residents, staff and visitors. Although the facility would employ 75 to 80 people, employees on site during any given shift number 28 to 30. Residents who own cars range from 10 to 15 percent in assisted living and 20 to 25 percent in independent living.
Palos Heights is an attractive location for the complex because of demographics, Longfellow has said. “The number of seniors themselves, and adult children of seniors fits perfectly for us.” The visibility of the corner and opportunity to develop commercial outlots near the corner closest to Harlem add to the site’s desirability, Longfellow added.
The independent living portion of the community would contain an interior courtyard with putting greens, a fountain and seating areas. More patio seating areas, with tables, chairs and umbrellas, would be on patios on the north side of the building facing the Cal-Sag Trail and Calumet-Sag Channel.
Also Tuesday, Alderman Jeffrey Key reported it was opening day for the fitness center in the newly reconstructed city Recreation Center, 6601 W. 127th St.
Residents can tour the facility and get price sheets for memberships to use its workout equipment, which is now in place, he said. “It’s beautiful,” added Key, who was among the very first visitors of the center that morning. He showed his key-ring fob that members are given for use of the center. Residents can also use the walking track in the center at no charge.
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