Published February 22, 2007
Eight stories still too tall for
Residents say changes to Foxford's
plan for Hinsdale Office Park didn't go far enough
Many people said the same
thing last week about a new plan for The Hinsdale Club
on Ogden Avenue: better but not good enough.
Foxford LLC of Hinsdale presented new plans at a Feb. 14 public
hearing for the 20-acre Hinsdale Office Park site north
of Ogden and primarily between Salt Creek Lane and Elm
Street. The new plan calls for shorter buildings and
fewer condos, but residents and plan commissioners said
it’s still too big.
“They have tried, in my eyes, to make this property more
acceptable. Unfortunately, they haven’t achieved
acceptability in my eyes,” said Ralph Mueller, who lives
in Graue Mill just north of the site.
Twenty-two year resident Bob Neiman agreed the plan is much better
but said it still falls short.
“To me the developer’s strategy so far is pretty transparent,” he
said. “They came here two meetings ago and proposed
something that I think in the board’s view and in the
residents’ view was so completely preposterous that this
scope and density and height is starting to look good.”
Residents also questioned how the developer could be granted so
Paula Lucking, who lives in the 500 block of North Oak Street, said
the zoning code prevents her from finishing the area
above her garage.
“They get to come in and ask for basically double what the law
allows,” she said. “I think that is not only outrageous,
Plan commission Chairwoman Laura LaPlaca explained that Foxford is
asking to build a planned unit development, which is
handled differently in the zoning code than other types
“It allows the village flexibility in working with a developer to
figure out if they need flexibility and changes in what
might be allowed under the code to provide a public
benefit to the village as well as some benefit to the
developer,” LaPlaca said.
Bruce Goldsmith, Foxford’s attorney, pointed out earlier in the
evening that the Hinsdale Office Park was approved as a
planned unit development with variations for floor-area
ratio, parking, setbacks and height.
The 11 residents who spoke brought up many issues that were raised
during the December public hearing on the initial
proposal, primarily traffic, density and the
appropriateness of the project for the site and for the
village as a whole. Residents also continued to ask for
a boutique hotel instead of the 10- to 12-story 180-room
hotel proposed by the developer.
The hotel consultant hired by Foxford said boutique hotels
typically are found in more urban locations where rooms
carry higher rates.
“We haven’t seen a proliferation of them in suburban market areas,”
said Ted Mandigo of TR Mandigo and Co. of Elmhurst. “The
furnishing and construction costs of those stand to be
substantially higher. It’s very difficult to make a
project like that work.”
He described the proposed 180-room hotel as “very feasible.”
A stumbling block for commissioners continues to be trying to
determine how this proposal would fit into the Ogden
Avenue corridor redevelopment plan, which won’t be
completed for several months.
The consultant the village hired to complete that plan, John
Houseal of Houseal Lavigne Associates, also has been
working with the developer — at the developer’s cost —
to help revise the plan.
“We’re encouraged by the steps they’ve taken so far,” Houseal said.
“We’ve got a long way to go to iron out the details.”
Houseal told commissioners that what they approve for this
particular site does not have to dictate what they
approve for every site along Ogden Avenue.
“I don’t think the height that is permitted here, whatever it is,
is going to set the tone for Ogden,” he said. “Few sites
on Ogden are this big.”
After Commissioner Dennis Parsons suggested the project be put on
hold until the plan is completed, Foxford President
Peter Brennan said he can’t wait another six months.
“If that’s what you’re asking us to do — put the brakes on the
project — we’ll just go back to our original plan, which
is what we wanted to do eight months ago,” he said.
He originally planned to sell off the six buildings on the site
Goldsmith encouraged the plan commission to avoid a piecemeal
“You are given the opportunity to master plan a site that otherwise
won’t be under your control,” he said.
The public hearing was continued until Wednesday, March 14, when
Foxford is scheduled to present the results of new
traffic and economic impact studies and new stormwater
engineering plans. Residents who want to submit comments
on the project in writing may do so to village planner
Kristen Gundersen by March 7.
New vs. old plan
Foxford LLC of Hinsdale
presented a revised plan Feb. 14 for its $250 million
proposed development on almost 20 acres north of Ogden
The following changes are among those made to the plan:
• the condominium buildings now are 8 stories
tall as opposed to 10 or 12 stories tall
• townhomes will be wrapped around the condo
• work/live units with retail on the first floor
and residential above will buffer the middle condo
buildings from Ogden Avenue
• the total number of condo units has been
reduced from 431 to 298
• the two mixed-use retail/residential buildings
have been reconfigured and moved closer to Ogden Avenue,
with parking moved north of the buildings
• the freestanding pharmacy was eliminated and
replaced with a three-story mixed use building with
first floor retail and office space above
• the condo building closest to Graue Mill was
reoriented to run along a north-south line instead of an
• the 10- to 12-story hotel was reoriented to
have a focal point on Salt Creek Lane and the parking
deck was rotated to the back of the building
• new signs include a “gateway” sign along Ogden
on the eastern side of the property that reads “Village
• open and park space and pedestrian areas were
moved so as to be better integrated throughout the
Foxford is asking for a
number of waivers from Hinsdale Zoning Code requirements
as part of the planned unit development. The list does
not include waivers that will be required for below
grade parking structures that encroach into required
• increase allowable total lot coverage for the
entire site from 50 percent to 60 percent
• reduce required Ogden Avenue setback for
• allow residential uses in a O-3 office district
• allow retail/restaurant uses in an O-3 district
that are not primarily for the use of existing buildings
on the property
• increase allowable floor-area ratio for the
entire site from .35 or .6 to 1.34
• allow mixed-use buildings in an O-3 district
• reduce parking requirements for all residential
uses and hotel/banquet use
• eliminate designated loading areas for all
• reduce requirement for park land donation
• increase allowable building height from five
stories to eight stories for condominium buildings and
to 10 to 12 stories for hotel building
• reduce front, side and rear yard setbacks on
condominium buildings, mixed-use buildings and hotel
• increase allowable residential lot area per
unit for the entire site from 4,000 square feet per unit
or 179 units to 2,397 square feet per unit or 298 units
What is a PUD?
Foxford LLC of Hinsdale is
proposing The Hinsdale Club as a planned unit
Planned developments are allowed, under Section 11-603 of the
Hinsdale Zoning Code, as a distinct category of special
“This special regulatory technique is included in this code in
recognition of the fact that traditional bulk, space and
yard regulations that may be useful in protecting the
character of substantially developed and stable areas
may impose inappropriate pre-regulations and rigidities
upon the development or redevelopment of parcels or
areas that lend themselves to an individual, planned
approach,” the code states.
The code identifies seven objectives the village seeks to achieve
through a planned unit development: create a more
desirable environment; promote a creative approach to
the use of land; combine and coordinate architectural
styles, building forms and building relationships;
preserve and enhance desirable site characteristics,
such as vegetation; provide for the preservation and
beneficial use of open space; provide an increased
amount of open space; and encourage land uses that
promote public health, safety and general welfare.
Village planner Kristen Gundersen identified the advantages in
working with a planned unit development in a Feb. 8 memo
to plan commissioners.
“A planned development provides for greater control over the
project and stronger enforcement options because the
applicant must build what was approved by the planned
development,” Gundersen wrote. “Items such as building
setback, building design and landscaping improvements
must be completed in accordance with approved plans.”
In order to obtain approval of a planned unit development, the
developer must provide a development concept plan that
shows, among other things, the general architectural
style of the proposed development, the general location
and extent of public and private open space, and the
nature and scope of improvements or contributions the
developer will provide.
Among the cited benefits of this particular project are increased
tax revenues to the village and school districts, park
space, fountains and the provision of empty-nester
housing in the village.
If the PUD is recommended by the plan commission, it will be
reviewed by the Hinsdale Zoning and Public Safety
Committee. That group then will make a recommendation to
the full village board, which has the ultimate authority
to approve or deny the plan.