Highland News Leader

Development groups eye a spot new age-restricted housing development in Highland

The preliminary design for a potential housing development project to be located Illinois 143 and Valentine Lane in Highland. The project, proposed by Southwestern Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA) and Bywater Development Group, will provide age and income restricted housing for seniors ages 55 and older in villa-styled, rental homes. The design also includes a walking path, a community building, and a computer lab. among other amenities.
The preliminary design for a potential housing development project to be located Illinois 143 and Valentine Lane in Highland. The project, proposed by Southwestern Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA) and Bywater Development Group, will provide age and income restricted housing for seniors ages 55 and older in villa-styled, rental homes. The design also includes a walking path, a community building, and a computer lab. among other amenities.

A new age-restricted housing development for seniors could be coming to Highland.

On July 17, Southwestern Illinois Development Authority and Bywater Development Group hosted an informational meeting at Highland City Hall concerning a project which aims to bring affordable housing to local residents ages 55 and older. The proposed development would be located at the intersection of Illinois 143 and Valentine Lane in Highland.

“We’re exited about it. We think it will be a good fit for the Highland residents,” said Michael Lundy, SWIDA’s executive director.

SWIDA was created nearly 30 years ago by the General Assembly to help encourage and facilitate economic development in Bond, Clinton, Madison and St. Clair counties. SWIDA operates solely on the revenue it earns for the services it provides. Bywater Development Group is a development and consulting company based out of St. Louis, Missouri, which operates as SWIDA’s partner for housing development projects.

SWIDA has focused on includes the sale of taxable and tax-exempt bonds, alternative financing services, such as loans for land acquisition, gap financing, micro loans, and technical development assistance. The agency has also supported a range of projects that have contributed to East St. Louis. But over the last eight years, Lundy said that SWIDA has also started to work on housing development.

For this particular project, Lundy said many properties all over the metro-east were considered. However, he relayed that after a demographics study, it was revealed that Highland has a strong need for senior housing, and the amenities in the area made the project location a fit.

“It is a very nice community,” Lundy said.

The proposed complex will include about 48 single-story, villa-style, independent-living units, according to Lundy. He said the facility will also be income restricted, and residents will need to qualify for the rental housing.

The design also includes amenities such as a walking path, individual entrances, high energy-efficiency standards, a residents’ community building with gathering spaces, a computer lab, laundry facilities and on-site management.

Overall, Lundy said that they are looking to invest about $9.3 million into the project.

The information informational meeting last week at City Hall drew about 40 local residents, City Manager Mark Latham said.

Latham said that many of the attending residents live in the Holiday Manor subdivision, which would neighbor the housing development once its built. Latham said the attendees presented three main concerns.

“Part of it was water runoff and what was going to happen with that,” Latham said.

In response to the drainage concerns, Lundy said that the development design includes retention ponds that will help to catch runoff water.

“They submitted their preliminary plans. The city staff is reviewing that and will make comments to it,” Latham said.

The second concern dealt with annexation.

Before the development can begin, SWIDA needs to annex the property into city limits. Once this happens, Latham said that the subdivision will be surrounded by city property, and meeting attendees were concerned that the city would want them to annex in as well. However, Latham said that this would probably not be the case if the development is approved, as the city does not force properties to annex into city limits if they do not want to.

“We have a couple areas already that are surrounded,” Latham said.

Latham said that the third concern was one that the city shares as well.

“I think that the only concern that I have had in this process is the access onto (Illinois) 143,” Latham said.

The proposed development would have access points of Illinois 143 located between Walmart and the entrance to Silver Lake Park. Speeding on this stretch of road is common as drivers come over the hill from the dam of Silver Lake and into town, according to Latham. He said the speed, paired with an access point to a senior-aged living facility, could be dangerous.

“It just looks like it is an accident waiting to happen,” Latham said.

Latham said that it is his understanding that the development’s access points to Illinois 143 have already been approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“We will see what happens,” Latham said.

However, the development cannot move forward without the city approval.

“There are several things that has to happen,” Latham said.

First, Latham said that the developer will need to petition to annex into the city limits. He also said that a zoning amendment needs to be made to the tract of land. Latham said that the next time the development will be brought before a city board is during the Combined Planning and Zoning Board meeting on Aug. 1.

If all goes as planned, Lundy said that SWIDA hopes to break ground for the project in late winter.

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