Hoping for a full house at the Texas Hold ‘Em event

Flossmoor Monday moved a step closer to becoming the first community in Illinois with permanent supportive apartments for persons with developmental disabilities.

In a 5-1 vote, village board members approved a conceptual plan for the apartments proposed for 1032 and 1038 Leavitt Avenue. The approval includes a 30-year restricted covenant stating that the apartments can only be used to house the developmentally disabled.

As proposed by New Hope Center, a south suburban not-for-profit agency that has provided services to the developmentally disabled and their families since the 1960s, there will be six apartment units, each about 500 square feet and for a single tenant.

The apartments are to be constructed in the former Martsci Montessori School building and on the site of a single-family house just to the north. Under the plan, the house is to be taken down. The zoning on the two lots is to be changed from single-family to multi-family use. The apartments are to remain on the Cook County property tax rolls.

New Hope Executive Director Tim Knapp said he expects the apartments to open in 18 to 24 months. After the vote, Knapp said he was extremely pleased that the apartments will be coming to Flossmoor.

“It’s incredible to be part of all this,” Knapp said. “Just going to meetings (in Flossmoor), I’ve met so many parents who are excited about the apartments. I love being part of this and we are looking forward to being part of this community.”

Knapp told the village board that Flossmoor is an ideal community for the apartments, which will be designed for developmentally disabled persons who have graduated from high school, have jobs and wish to live independently. The Leavitt Avenue site is one block from downtown Flossmoor and all its amenities – the Metra station, shops, restaurants, the post office and library.

Trustee James Mitros cast the sole vote against the apartment project. He said he was in favor of the project but is opposed to adding any more multi-family zoning in Flossmoor.

“How do we justify saying no to someone who comes in and wants to build a 100-unit apartment building?” Mitros said.

Mayor Paul Braun said that would be “a completely different situation.” The proposed New Hope apartments are in a unique location, he said. There is a condominium complex across the street and commercial property just to the north.

“Multi-family does not belong in a single-family area,” Braun said, but added that the location on Leavitt is already filled with multi-family units.

Braun said he was impressed with the proposal. Trustee Perry Hoag complimented New Hope on the plan but proposed the 30-year covenant as a safeguard for the village.  

Resident Don Garsee, who lives in the neighboring condo complex, said he was opposed to the apartment proposal when it first came before the Flossmoor plan commission in December. The original plan called for eight apartment units and a small number of parking places. However, New Hope changed the plan, lowering the number of units and increasing parking, and Garsee said he strongly favors the revised plan.

Following New Hope’s changes, the plan commission unanimously voted in favor of the apartments at the January meeting.

Braun asked Scott Bugner, the village’s inspectional services administrator, if there was currently any opposition to New Hope’s proposal. Bugner said some persons opposed the original plan, but with New Hope’s changes, any opposition appears to have gone away.

Knapp told the H-F Chronicle that much more work needs to be done before the apartments are ready for tenants. The next step, he said, is to present a set of drawings to the plan commission. Those plans should be ready by April, he said. New Hope still has not purchased the two properties.

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