SYCAMORE – Plans are moving forward for the site of the St. Albans Green apartments. Building A of the complex was destroyed by a fire the night of July 27, is uninhabitable and the property owner plans to put in townhomes.
James Mason of Mason Properties said he hopes to build a series of townhomes on the site, and earlier this week, he went before the Sycamore Planning and Zoning Commission to pitch his project.
“I could not replace the building that was there,” Mason said.
It would be more expensive with new codes and regulations in place in the years since the building was first constructed. The St. Albans Green complex opened in June 1968 and was touted as “upper-echelon living” at the time for the Sycamore area.
The question that needs to be settled first, before construction on the project can begin, is the density of the development. Mason proposed 33 townhomes on the site, but city of Sycamore ordinances and plans allow for a maximum of 24 homes at the location.
The townhomes would be two floors, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a powder room, Mason said. Each floor would be about 1,000 square feet, compared with the 700 square feet of the apartment building units. Mason said he hopes to rent them for $1,600 to $2,000 a month.
Mason said one of the first questions he received was why wasn’t he building low- or middle-income housing again at the site. He said the costs to build now are too high to get financing for it.
“The new codes bring in costs we didn’t have before,” he said.
More than 120 people were displaced by the fire, and in the days afterward they stayed at an American Red Cross shelter or in area hotels and motels.
Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said the meeting Monday was a workshop. No plans were finalized and the commission recommended that Mason build 24 units on the lot, consistent with city planning ordinances. It also recommended the lot be resubdivided.
The plan is in the early stages, and Gregory said the typical time frame could be three to four months for a project to go through the planning and zoning process, although each project is different and subject to different factors.
Mason isn’t waiting around, however. He said he is planning on getting crews in to clean the site in the next month or two, and then he’s going to wait on the commission to determine how many units he can put on the site before he takes care of the rest.
“Everything will be elegant and fine,” he said.