PORTAGE PARK — A nearly three hour community meeting showcasing the latest plans for the Point at Six Corners included sticker shock at the rents to live in the proposed development.
“For independent living, monthly rent will be $4,400 a month. For assisted living it will be $6,000 a month. And for memory care it will be $7,200 a month,” said Dan Walsh, senior vice president of real estate development at Ryan Companies.
There were some audible gasps and an increase in crosstalk when Walsh answered a question regarding how much the rental units would cost.
Watch a video of the June 21 meeting here.
Walsh said he understood that price tags for the 265 senior living units seems like a “substantial amount,” but said it’s comparable to other senior living facilities with amenities like an outdoor terrace, library, outings to places in the community, a shuttle service and a club room.
He said these living options, which LCS-Clarendale is going to operate and co-own with Ryan Companies, are upgraded units for seniors being rented at a market rate. Further, the proposal includes 83 independent living units, 144 assisted living units and 38 memory care units.
Nine units will be “off-site” affordable housing units, as mandated by the city, with an estimated rent of around $800. Further information about the affordable housing location was not immediately available.
“Senior living is not what it used to be. It has evolved significantly. It’s now an upscale housing choice,” said Walsh. “We’re describing it as a cruise ship on land, it is dynamic with a lot of services and lot of programing and amenities.”
He added that there is not a large entrance fee to become a resident, so a senior can sell their home and then go rent at these apartments, which gives them a lot of flexibility.
“There are very few senior living options in a 10 or 12-minute drive time from Six Corners,” he said.
Bobbi Kelley, executive director of Clarendale of Mokena, also addressed the shock at the prices.
“We sell a lifestyle that is greatly integrated with the outside community,” said Kelley. She had also reacted that way the first time she was looking for a senior living option for her own mother. However, she did concede that Clarendale is on the “top end” of the price range in the industry but that they’re “very fairly priced” for what they offer.
While initially approved plans for The Point included retail only, Ald. John Arena (45th) explained there have been “somewhere near 16 different versions” of the project due to market factors.
Arena’s office said developers had a hard time locking down mid-size big box retailers to commit to the project, which is why housing was ultimately added. Now, aside from an Aldi grocery store, developers are focusing on smaller retail options that have seen success in the neighborhood.
“They have stuck with Clark Street on this project,” Peter Eisenberg, principal with developer Clark Street Real Estate, said of Aldi, which will have a 21,000 square foot grocery store at The Point.
Cheston Arthur, director of operations at Aldi, said the new store at Six Corners would be similar in design to the one in Bucktown.
“If you haven’t shopped at Aldi in a while, we have a huge focus on fresh,” said Arthur. “It’s a big wide selection to take care of every customer’s need.”
Eisenberg added that the new mixed-use project will have 50,000 square feet of retail, much of it facing Milwaukee Avenue. In total, the parking lot for the proposal would include 237 parking spaces, which is over the minimum required by the city for a project of this scale.
“There are 70,000 cars a day at this intersection. We’ve been balancing with the alderman his desire to attract foot traffic, so what we did was create two passageways [for pedestrians]..and a large public plaza,” said Eisenberg. “We are making $120 million investment into this project.”
Ironically, before the meeting a group of neighbors slammed the proposed senior housing – worried that seniors wouldn’t have enough money to shop in the neighborhood.
At the meeting, one resident said his concerns with the assisted living aspect of the project were not based in ageism. But he then went on to say senior citizens’ prefer to shop with coupons and that assisted living developments end up costing a community money because of the number of 911 calls they make.
When the moderator asked the resident to allow someone else to speak, some other residents started shouting “Let him speak.” The resident finished by saying that the project’s focus on senior living won’t lure “families” or “young professionals” away from nearby suburbs and therefore won’t bring economic vitality to Six Corners.
“Well, we’re going to have 120 employees coming through this building the everyday who, when they leave, the ability for them to go to an Aldi and shop is going to be extremely important,” said Walsh. “And we have families who are visiting their relatives. And when they visit their relatives they take them out to the community to participate in things like dining.”
Another resident said that just because someone may be elderly or retired doesn’t mean that they don’t have the ability to go out and enjoy the community.
“[My mother has] been in a senior community for a decade now,” one resident said. “And as a caregiver I try to make my life as easy as possible. So I always try to shop near her, I try to make appointments near her. Go the library near her. She’s part of my life. So I think that there are a lot of community amenities that I would take advantage of. So, I for one, [would] 100 percent love a facility like this close to my house. Right now I drive half an hour, twice a week, [to get to my mother].”
Another resident said that she has to drive to Oak Park to visit her mother-in-law and that, had this development been here sooner, she would love to be able to visit her in a home that’s “right around the corner.”
However she was also concerned with how the pick-up and drop-off traffic would work for families visiting their relatives. Walsh said there would be three opportunities for pick-up and drop-off: a second floor parking lobby, street parking on Milwaukee Avenue and a short-term visitor parking spaces in the parking lot.
“This is the beginning of a process, not just for this particular site but also for Six Corners. This is one development site of three major development sites that we have to look forward to,” said Ald. Arena. “These conversations are always difficult.”