The Village of River Forest Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing next month about creating a new special service area at 800-826 N. Harlem Ave., the site of new senior citizen housing development. 

The proposed SSA would include The Sheridan at River Forest, an approximately 1.5-acre assisted living and memory care senior housing facility, which the village board approved earlier this year. 

Because such facility is expected to generate more ambulance calls than average, developer Senior Lifestyle will have to pay an impact fee to cover the extra costs. The SSA would kick in if the developer doesn’t pay.

The public hearing will be held on Jan. 13, 2020, at 7 p.m. in the board room of the River Forest Village Hall, 400 Park Ave., prior the regularly scheduled village board meeting. 

The village board is expected to vote on whether to approve the SSA during that subsequent business meeting.

The Sheridan will house 92 assisted-living and 33 memory care service apartments, mostly one-bedroom units, with an average assisted-living unit priced at $5,500 per month, and the average memory-care unit running $6,800 per month. 

Bob Gawronsky, vice president of development at Senior Lifestyle, told the River Forest Development Review Board that they were targeting seniors who may not be able to Live without medical assistance but who wish to remain in the community, as well as seniors who may want to move to River Forest to be closer to the family. 

Unlike tax increment financing districts, which sequester funds from the existing tax levies, SSAs add a special levy to a property tax bill. What would make this SSA unusual is that it would only kick in if Senior Lifestyles doesn’t pay the impact fee. 

If the SSA is triggered, it would collect an amount not to exceed $7.29 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation of the property.

 Since the only property inside the SSA would be The Sheridan, no other property will be affected. 

According to information provided by the village, Senior Lifestyles indicated that it expects to generate an average of 2.5 ambulance calls a week – or about 130 calls a year. 

The impact fee will kick in if the number of calls goes above that. The fee will start off at $500 per call and continue to increase if the number of calls per year exceeds 199 calls. 

Village Administrator Eric Palm emphasized to the board that he didn’t expect the SSA to be triggered, but the village believes that it would be best to have it in place just in case. 

Palm noted that River Forest put something similar in place for Promenade Townhomes, at 7820 Madison Street, in 2017, just in case the development’s homeowners association failed. 

“[The new SSA] hopefully will not be activated, but it is there in case it is needed,” Palm said.

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Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Growing Community Media newspapers in 2012, then from 2015...

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