By Richard Mayer
The developer of the proposed Maple Street Lofts project in downtown Mount Prospect feels concerns shared by a newly formed group of citizens will be helpful moving forward.
Plans call for two apartment buildings, seven and eight-stories high respectively, 66 single-family rowhomes, a parking garage, retail and commercial space. The project site is located on the former Parenti and Raffaelli property, 215-225 E. Prospect Ave., at Maple Street.
Formal plans have yet to be presented to the village board for approval.
According to Chris Coleman from Wingspan Development, which is part of the development team with developer Nicholas & Associates, recent discussions on the project are helpful.
“We appreciate and actively solicit input from the community and stakeholders,” Coleman said. “That’s always important. For this particular development, it’s even more important. As we have been listening to residents’ comments, questions and concerns, most of what we’re hearing is positive. When you give people a forum to ask questions and they get the answers, most are satisfied.”
Two groups that have been consistent supporters of the development, he said, are the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Merchants Association. He said both groups are excited about the possibility of more residents moving to downtown — residents that would likely patronize local businesses.
Chris Bozonelos of Mrs. P & Me restaurant, and head of the Downtown Merchants Association, is one of those supporters. Mrs. P & Me is located one block west of the Maple Street Lofts site.
“They hosted one of the information sessions here at Mrs. P & Me, and over 100 people attended,” Bozonelos said. “The downtown merchants support the development and I personally support it. I work and live right here in the neighborhood, and I’ve been here for years, so I have a unique perspective. I’m excited to see something happen with the property after all this time. I think the plan is great.”
Both the chamber and Downtown Merchants Association on Feb. 4 submitted a letter to the village in support of the project.
According to Bozonelos and chamber Director Dawn Fletcher Collins, traffic concerns expressed by opponents of the project are “exaggerated.”
“The population of Mount Prospect has tripled since 1960,” the letter says. “Traffic in the city of Chicago at rush hour is traffic; what we have in our village are minutes of delay when hundreds of commuters are traveling to and from work during very specific times of day. This is anticipated and expected in every community.”
Both stated in the letter they are not sure what people mean when they say the proposed project is “out of character.”
“The current character or ‘feel and appearance’ of that block of the neighborhood is that of a factory,” they said. “Density and residents are necessary to support existing businesses and the kind of businesses younger residents expect in their downtown. Mount Prospect needs to meet the needs of its residents and that includes the younger demographic.”
According to Bozonelos and Collins, the younger population that will likely occupy the majority of Maple Street Lofts will utilize the train and frequent local businesses.
“This is part of long-term goal planning and something which has been discussed at length for over a decade with many residents and business owners during that time period,” they said in the letter.
They added the downtown business community can only be as robust as the number of residents who live in the downtown area, and critical mass is vital to business survival.
“We are excited and proud of this and all proposed residential development projects and strongly encourage the board to move forward with Maple Street Lofts project,” they concluded.
According to Coleman, a formal submittal will be presented soon. “We’ve been listening to comments for months and modifying our plans to address their concerns,” he said. “I think when the public hearings actually happen, people will see that we took their concerns to heart.”
Asked about the group Citizens for Responsible Growth in Mount Prospect, that’s concerned about the size of the proposed development, Coleman said, “There will always be some people you can never please, that’s to be expected. Often, that minority is very vocal so they get a lot of attention. We try to focus on the concerns of the majority of residents and work with them to deliver the best possible development.”