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Hinsdale, Illinois |


Published February 22, 2007

Eight stories still too tall for Hinsdale Club
Residents say changes to Foxford's plan for Hinsdale Office Park didn't go far enough

  By Pamela Lannom

   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 many waivers.
   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, it’s ridiculous.”
   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 of projects.
   “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 individually.
   Goldsmith encouraged the plan commission to avoid a piecemeal development.
   “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 Avenue.
   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 buildings
      • 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 east-west line
      • 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 of Hinsdale”
      • open and park space and pedestrian areas were moved so as to be better integrated throughout the development

Requested waivers
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 yards.
      • increase allowable total lot coverage for the entire site from 50 percent to 60 percent
      • reduce required Ogden Avenue setback for mixed-use buildings
      • 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 buildings
      • 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 development.
   Planned developments are allowed, under Section 11-603 of the Hinsdale Zoning Code, as a distinct category of special use.
   “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.




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