Village president says project is in line with economic vision
By Gregory Trotter, Chicago Tribune reporter, February 12, 2013
The proposed development of a long-vacant Wilmette property as a mix of commercial space and luxury apartments has frustrated some village residents, who say that it’s an ideal site for an affordable housing component.
Village President Chris Canning said the proposal for 611 Green Bay Road fits Wilmette’s vision for economic revitalization of the village center. Housing advocates said affordable units for people with disabilities should be part of the plan.
In December the village agreed to sell the former site of a Ford dealership to Lexington Homes for $4 million, which would earn Wilmette a tidy profit after purchasing the property for nearly $3.7 million in 2011.
The plan bothers Elizabeth Drake, who has a 26-year-old autistic son. His rent is rising, and Drake said he has few suitable alternatives in Wilmette.
“Why wouldn’t we ask (Lexington) to do what’s right for the community?” said Drake, an interior decorator who has lived in Wilmette for more than 20 years.
Lexington did not return phone calls seeking comment. But there has been no sign that affordable housing units are part of the plan for 611 Green Bay, said John Adler, Winnetka’s director of community development. Lexington agreed to purchase the property and is now in the “due diligence” phase of the deal.
Meanwhile, longtime housing advocate Gail Schechter and her Winnetka-based organization, Open Communities, are trying to rally proponents of affordable housing to speak up.