A rendering shows plans for a seven-story apartment building with space for restaurants at Ellinwood and Graceland avenues in Des Plaines. Aldermen approved an exception Monday that allows the development to have fewer parking spaces than typically required under city ordinance.
Courtesy of Des Plaines

A 212-unit apartment building with space for high-end restaurants in Des Plaines has cleared a major hurdle, potentially making way for a development that could pump more business into the city’s downtown.

Des Plaines aldermen this week approved the $64 million project proposed at the southeast corner of Ellinwood and Graceland avenues, despite the city’s planning and zoning board rejecting the plan over concerns about parking space.

A joint venture of real estate firms Bayview USA Holdings and Barrington-based Compasspoint Development wants to build the seven-floor building with 10,100 square feet of commercial space. The developer is under contract to buy eight properties on the nearly 2-acre parcel.

The development also will include a pool, dog spa and dog run, yoga and cycling studios, and a gym.

City staff supported the project, citing the importance of attracting people and businesses downtown, while also creating a transit-oriented development next to the Metra station.

“After considering all the components of this project, I believe it will bring many benefits to the city of Des Plaines,” 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman said. “I think we will be significantly increasing the number of people in our downtown area, and frankly, that’s a good thing.”

Traffic jams and parking were the biggest concerns raised by some business owners and aldermen.

At issue during Monday’s vote was whether the city should allow the developer to provide about 1.5 parking spaces per apartment, instead of the typically required two spaces.

Though the development includes 409 parking spaces, just 330 will be exclusively reserved for residents, which is nearly 100 fewer than the city’s normal requirement. The remaining 79 spaces will be leased back to the city for public parking.

First Ward Alderman Mark Lysakowski, whose ward includes the project, and 4th Ward Aldermen Dick Sayad were the lone city council members to vote against the project.

“I would love for you guys to make a lot of money,” Sayad told the developers. “But I think the parking is going to be the problem to bite you.”

Businesses that will be removed from the site include Italian restaurant Via Roma, Alpine Camera, Starvin’ Artist Supply and Custom Picture Framing, Gift Depot, Threshold Martial Arts and El Mexico grocery store. The post office, Huntington Bank, Mexico Restaurant, Dad’s Slot Cars and others will remain.

El Mexico owner Guillermo Gonzalez, who is selling his property, said his businesses and others are struggling, but the new development could help change that for others.

“My point is soon we’re going to see more vacant stores, vacant lots, and I think it’s good for the city because it’s a nice development, a nice building.”