The Village of Arlington Heights is striving to create
the kind of homes needed most by the
community - housing affordable to the local workforce and residents on fixed-incomes that want
Looking to demonstrate
that inclusive development can work in the suburbs, and provide affordable workforce
housing side-by-side with market rate
homes, the Arlington Heights Village Board approved Tandem Realty Corporation’s
Timber Court condominium development on May 16th with a vote of
six to three. Their decision was based upon recommendations
Commission that approved the development in early
April after three grueling late-night meetings, twelve hours of testimony and voluble opposition.
Timber Court, a mixed-income development, includes 108 condominiums, and
complies with recent village efforts to increase housing affordability and
support sensible growth and innovative community development and design.
There is an extreme
shortage of housing that is affordable to working families in the Chicago
Cook County, 18.4 percent of
homeowners and 32.8 percent of renters pay over 30 percent of their household incomes on housing
Arlington Heights, 13.9 percent of homeowners and
26.9 percent of renters are similarly cost-burdened. Increasingly, suburban towns
are recognizing that the
prices to purchase or rent in their areas are not just prohibitive to very
low-income households, they are locking out many working-class families as
The Village of Arlington Heights, whose mayor was among
the founders of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Housing Task Force and whose
Housing Commission is among the most active in the region, has demonstrated its
leadership on the housing front in many symbolic ways, including adopting the
Metropolitan Mayors Caucus' Housing Endorsement Criteria in
These criteria support economic development and sustainability, improved
housing options, and quality community design and construction near transit and
The Housing Endorsement
Criteria have been implemented by several municipalities throughout the
to promote housing and mixed-use developments that meet community needs while
also addressing broader sensible growth goals.
Since their adoption, the village has
been working to put these criteria into action.
Tandem Realty is one of the
first developers to submit a proposal of this size that meets the village’s
criteria. The proposed site
is surrounded by varying uses, including office, commercial, multi-family
and single family
location is accessible to transportation, just three miles north of the
train station and near three major
A bus system is currently
being introduced to the village as well.
Tandem’s proposal is unique in that it
provides Arlington Heights,
neighboring area, with
21 affordable homes equally 20% of the total units.
While all the condos are priced at entry
level, bringing much needed diversity to the current housing stock, the
affordable homes will be priced to be attainable to households at or below 80 percent
of area median income.
translates to households in the income range of approximately $41,525 to
$59,325, depending upon household size.
The prices for affordable condos are set at $129,250 for one-bedrooms and
$140,000 for two-bedrooms.
remaining one-bedroom condos are priced from the low $200s and the remaining
two-bedroom condos are priced from the mid $200s.
The design and quality of materials for
the building are comparable to other market-rate projects recently completed in
the area, including ample green space.
There will be no design or material differentiation between market rate
and affordable homes.
Observers of the board and plan commission meetings were
even a town like Arlington Heights would face
such opposition considering the strong leadership of its mayor and housing
commission staff on local workforce housing development. The opposition
towards Tandem’s proposal mostly centered on concerns about the
an increase in density. However,
as the Metropolitan Planning Council testified, increased density can have very positive
impacts on a community as long as the development is well-designed and
well-built. Applied appropriately, density can foster residents’ opportunity to
live near work; local economic development; an increase in public transit
service levels, and a more walkable community.
Among the other outspoken supporters of the Tandem
proposal was Mark Lusson, vice president of human relations at Northwest
Community Healthcare (NCH). NCH is among the region’s leaders in employer-assisted housing, and as
Lusson stated in a letter to the Arlington Heights director of planning
and community development, “this development would provide another
avenue for recipients of our first-time homebuyer program. It also will provide the
village with an affordable housing option."
The Metropolitan Planning Council will continue to support Arlington Heights
and other municipalities working to create a more livable and attractive
community. Through trainings, advocacy and technical assistance, MPC will
support local planners and elected officials in making decisions such as these
that will meet their overall housing goals and objectives.
If you are aware of a similar quality, mixed-income
development in need of support, please contact Joanna Trotter
, MPC housing associate, at 312-863-6008.