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Cynthia Doehler's Blog

By Cynthia Doehler | Broker in 60491

Orland Park Approves Controversial Apartment Complex

(courtesy of Susuan Demar Lafferty of the Southtown Star)

Amid shouts of “Throw ’em out!” and “We’re not your piggy bank!” from the audience at Monday night’s village board meeting, Orland Park trustees approved the controversial Ninety7Fifty on the Park project.

Separate votes were taken on six items concerning the proposed 295-unit upscale apartment complex for which the village will borrow $62 million, and all six passed.

A few residents applauded while many booed the action.

Trustee Brad O’Halloran was the lone dissenting vote on the complicated financing package that allows the village to borrow the $62 million to begin the first phase of the Main Street redevelopment project, designed to create a “new downtown” for the village.

“It’s too much debt,” O’Halloran said.

But while he voted against the financing plan, he approved plans to build the apartment building adjacent to the Metra station, just west of LaGrange Road on 143rd Street, saying, “I hope it is a success.”

Indianapolis-based Flaherty and Collins Properties plans to break ground next month on the multistory building, which village officials say will be the “linchpin” to spur redevelopment of the area.

Trustee Ed Schussler reminded the board and residents who crowded the meeting room that more than 30 years ago the board made another bold move by approving a shopping mall “in the middle of a pig farm.” Orland Square Mall, which opened in 1976, helped turned the village into the Southland’s most populous suburb and one of its most prosperous.

“These times call for creativity and innovation,” Schussler said. “We need to invest in our future.”

The board votes were on two special-use zoning permits to allow the apartments, one on the actual redevelopment agreement, two on the financing deal and one on a resolution directing staff to explore and identify various options to reduce the village’s risk.

“We need to give this project a chance,” Trustee Kathleen Fenton said, as she spoke at length about the new businesses that recently have chosen to come to Orland Park because of its vision and reputation, such as Dave and Buster’s and hhgregg.

The plan calls for the village to loan the developer $38 million and contribute another $24 million as an incentive. Flaherty and Collins is bringing only $1 million to the table plus paying $1 million more in fees.

The village will be paid back in full in 10 years with rental income and revenue from a special taxing district, according to the plan. If that fails, it will use its home-rule sales tax revenue, village officials said.

Several trustees said they were comfortable with the plan because Orland Park always has been conservative with its money.

“We have been extremely careful and cautious about how this was put together. In 10 years, we will have enough home-rule sales tax so this will not hit your tax bill,” Trustee James Dodge repeatedly said.

He compared it with the $25 million the village has spent to fix state roads — money it will never get back from the state but that was spent because they care about the town.

O’Halloran said he was not against the redevelopment and believes in Mayor Dan McLaughlin’s vision for the community, but the financing concerns him.

“This will double the debt of the village. It’s too much risk at this time,” he said, while many in the audience cheered.

McLaughlin said he wants to “build for the future and help ensure a bright future.” He said he has always been about “openness” and “doing what is right for the community.”

McLaughlin allowed time for the public to address the board before trustees spoke, but only a few took advantage of the opportunity. Many others shouted out at the mayor and trustees during the course of the meeting.

One man circulated fliers at the end of the meeting that said, “Don’t re-elect any Orland Park board members.”

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