consultants are sandburs

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More Flaherty, more Collins, "as questions linger .." elsewhere than Ramsey -- big city 'burbs, Chicago area. The ugly "C-word" rears its nasty head. Officials have rose-colored glasses, are confident, all that. They bet the farm even bigger than Ramsey did.

Chicago Tribune, here.

Yup, "catalyst", up front and first-paragraph in reporting.

Recall that in Ramsey "catalyst" is what building the luxuriant City Hall in Town Center was supposed to be and do.

Market tanks. Flaherty's adventure gets the rebranding of the C-word from Darren ("catalyst" not "COR", though each is a repugnant C-word in its own way).

Excerpting:

A major luxury apartment complex meant to be a catalyst for Orland Park's new urban-inspired downtown area is only a few months away from opening its doors to residents.

The developer of Ninty7Fifty On the Park is on schedule to finish 80 of its 295 units and about 11,000-square-feet of communal space — like a screening room and computer lounge — by late March, said Chris Kirles, vice president of development with Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties.

The six-story project is the first major piece of a massive retrofitting of a downtown district for Orland Park near 143rd Street and La Grange Road. The major development hasn't been without controversy, however, and village officials who agreed to help finance the public-private project have a lot riding on its success.

An agreement including a $38 million loan from the village and up to another $25 million in financial incentives was approved despite many outspoken residents who were against it. Skeptics said they doubted the viability of a nearly 300-unit apartment complex in the southwest suburbs with rent starting at about $1,300 a month.

While it is still early, officials are saying the outlook is promising and they're excited by interest from potential tenants. As of mid-January, Kirles said 31 people have pre-leased units and, on average, the per-square-foot rent rates are coming in strong.

[...] The apartment complex is the first major part of a larger vision for a transit-oriented district inside what's been dubbed the Main Street Triangle by officials. Their plan is to assemble restaurants, shops, business offices, entertainment venues and a variety of housing options all within walking distance of the 143rd Street Metra stop.

The goal is to create a setting where suburban residents could cut back their reliance on cars. Kirles said they are also working to get Zipcar, a car sharing service, to station vehicles at Ninety7Fifty for residents.

The model unit is about 750 square feet and is priced at about $1,325 a month, Kirles said. It has shiny, granite countertops and a wine rack already mounted in the kitchen. There's a parking space included, washer and dryer in the unit and a sliding door opens onto the complex's sun deck and pool.

The units are mostly one and two bedrooms, but a handful of two-story units include a den, or a third bedroom, Kirles said. Those 1,500-square-feet duplexes are priced on the Ninety7Fifty website at about $2,400 a month. Concerns by residents about the village's financial ties to the project stems from doubts that enough renters will be willing to pay rates that rival many mortgage payments.

If the developer fails to fill the building at its expected rates, then ultimately it will be tax dollars on the line to cover the village's commitment. Officials say their market studies showed a strong demand for the luxury rentals, and their financial deal comes with enough checks and balances to protect taxpayers.

"When this is up and running, I think everybody will be very proud of it," [Orland Park Mayor Dan] McLaughlin said. "Very happy with it."

John Fotopoulos, an Orland Park resident who is running for village trustee in the April election, said he was motivated to run in part because of his dissatisfaction with the village's handling of the apartment project.

"I'm not a proponent at all of using public funds for private development," he said, adding that he thinks the first development in the new downtown area should be commercial-based and not residential.

To cover its $63 million commitment, the village issued $20 million in taxable General Obligation bonds in 2012, and likely will issue another set around April, said Finance Director Annmarie Mampe.

[...] Village officials say they did their due diligence to map a financial plan that protects the village's investment, and even though it's early, so far they say the numbers look good.

"We're encouraged and we're very optimistic," said Village Manager Paul Grimes. "Everything so far is going in accordance with the plan. We're confident."

In Ramsey the consistent bloc of three Flaherty allies on council are now off council, unlike Orland Park, where it appears next elections will be after the thing is finished, boom or bust.

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