Wheeling 'bridge to nowhere' could lead to senior housing complex

 
 
Updated 9/14/2018 2:24 PM
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  • Developers want to build a senior housing complex on undeveloped land just off the dead end of Wolf Court in Wheeling. Village officials recently agreed to spend $1.7 million to build a bridge leading to the site.

    Developers want to build a senior housing complex on undeveloped land just off the dead end of Wolf Court in Wheeling. Village officials recently agreed to spend $1.7 million to build a bridge leading to the site. Daily Herald File Photo, 2017

Once derided as a "bridge to nowhere," a $1.7 million span that will connect Wheeling's roads to undeveloped land along Lake-Cook Road may actually have a destination: a senior living development with independent living, assisted living and memory care units.

The joint venture of Opus Development Company and Allegro Senior Living introduced plans this week to build the 180-unit complex on the southwest corner of Lake-Cook Road and Milwaukee Avenue. Any development on the roughly 17-acre parcel wouldn't be possible without a bridge spanning a diversionary floodwater channel off Wolf Court, behind the Ram Restaurant and Brewery.

The village board approved a $1.7 million bid Monday to build the bridge, a year after debating whether to use tax dollars on the project if no development plans were in place.

About $1.4 million will be paid with tax increment financing, or TIF, funds. In a TIF district, new property tax revenue generated from development is put into a fund exclusively used to reinvest and improve the area, rather than paid to local governments.

Ultimately, the village decided to build the bridge, and the joint venture group now wants to use about 7 acres for its development.

Preliminary plans indicate the group wants to build a complex with four wings. Three of the wings will be five stories tall, while the fourth -- a memory care unit -- will be one floor. Half the 180 units will be designated for independent living, 65 for assisted living and 25 for memory care.

The idea is to provide residents a "continuum of care" as they age and their needs change, developers say.

The village board unanimously agreed it supported the idea of a senior housing complex at the site. However, some trustees raised concerns that the project could hamper further development of the remaining 10 acres.

Trustee Ray Lang asked the developers to consider creating plan that will allow for neighboring development.

"Without that vision, we may just have your building there and a field," Lang told the developers.

The plan could be changed, the developers said. It still requires a hearing with the village's plan commission and final approval by the village board.

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