Bonnie Brae townhome development given more time

Site plan submitted, then revised and resubmitted


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By Maria Maxham

Staff Reporter

At a June 18 Development Review Board (DRB) meeting, the townhome development project at Bonnie Brae Place and Thomas Street was once again given more time. The applicant, in response to village planner John Houseal's memo and critiques of the proposed site plan, submitted a revised plan at the last minute. The changes in this revised plan, which seemed to please Houseal, will be discussed on July 16. The applicant's deadline to officially submit the amended application is July 2.

The project has been in the works since 2016. In November of that year, the village approved plans to build 15 condos at 1101-1107 Bonnie Brae and to convert a six-unit apartment building at 1111 Bonnie Brae into a three-unit condominium. The condos would have been priced at just under to $1 million, but the project never got off the ground due to funding.

Architect John Schiess, hired by property owner Art Gurevich, switched gears, planning 19 lower priced three-story townhomes.

Now the plan, the application for which is due by July 2, includes 18 townhomes in six separate buildings.

The original plan submitted for the June 18 meeting, but revised just before the meeting, would have required seven site development allowances (SDAs): three related to setbacks, one related to unit square footage, one related to rear yard area, and the final related to fewer parking spaces than required by village guidelines.

In a memo to the village, Houseal expressed his concerns about the requested SDAs from the applicant, stating that they were "significant and collectively indicate that the proposed 'development intensity' may be too much for the site and generally not reflective of the intended development character desired by the village, as reflected by the zoning standards and established character of surrounding residential."

Houseal went on to say that with larger setbacks, less density and a site plan where the garages were less prominent, "it may better fit the subject property and the context of the neighborhood."

In response to his memo, the applicant submitted a revised plan, which Houseal said he'd only seen "a couple hours" before the meeting. However, he seemed satisfied with the new plan, which addressed some of the concerns he had about the original plan up for discussion.

Although the proposed buildings are closer together, with better landscaping Houseal said he has no big problem with that. With setback off the alley increased, additional parking will be possible parallel to the townhome garages, he said. Because of this, the reduction of four guest parking spots to two isn't a huge concern, especially because fewer spots allows a meandering pedestrian path to run, uninterrupted, across the entire property. 

"At first blush, I think there is merit in pausing to consider the applicant's wants," said Houseal at the meeting. "The revised site plan seems to address a lot of concerns over the current proposed site, and makes it a better, more viable, more neighborhood appropriate and more attractive development."

This article was changed to reflect the correct date of the continuation of the public hearing on this project, which is July 16.

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Reader Comments

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Gregg Kuenster from RIVER FOREST  

Posted: June 25th, 2020 9:16 AM

Do not look at the man behind the curtain (Wizard of Oz), Kathy you are Spot On. RF is using Affordable Housing and the TIFs to take away the property rights and alleys from the residents along Madison Ave/North Ave and Harlem. What is the obsession? Affordable High-rises for the poor? Really? ... who benefits? Is it just about power? What is this obsession? What do the homeowners in these areas think? How about a discussion? How about some honesty?

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 25th, 2020 8:29 AM

Amazing. The back story of this project goes all the way back to 2004.

Kathy Corcos  

Posted: June 25th, 2020 7:38 AM

Please forgive the typos in my previous comment. I'm sure anyone typing on a phone can relate. Autocorrect can be an issue. Thanks.

Kathy Corcos  

Posted: June 25th, 2020 7:36 AM

The Village of RF has recently committed itself to adding affordable housing in order to meet State requirements. I see no mention of this project setting aside some of its units to build toward that goal. Have some units been allocated for affordable housing here? At a recent Village Board meeting, the Ms. Aducci cast the deciding vote on affordable housing which did not, to the dismay of many, include any wording that would protecting current homeowner properties. In other words, it seems if the Village wishes to take over your property to build an affordable housing apartment building, it could force that homeowner to do so. It seems the Village is looking at TIF areas (near North Ave. or Madison St.). Did the Village set aside any number of housing units in the large building project on the old Hines Lumber area off Madison & Forest? There are still 'for sale' signs up there, after all this time. Have we or are we losing another opportunity to meet State standards if this town home development does not set aside units for affordable housing? It is a benchmark that RF has to make to be in compliance. Some transparency would be nice. It would be greatly appreciated if there was more communication to the residents of RF.

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