GlenStar sues city over stalled Northwest Side apartment project

Developer charges Aldermen shelved the plan because it includes affordable housing

Rendering of 8535 West Higgins Road (Credit: FitzGerald Associates Architects via Curbed)
Rendering of 8535 West Higgins Road (Credit: FitzGerald Associates Architects via Curbed)

GlenStar Properties is suing the city for blocking its plan to build a 299-unit apartment complex on the Northwest Side. The developer says a City Council committee has shelved the plan because the local alderman objects to its affordable housing component.

GlenStar proposed the project at 8535 West Higgins Road in March 2017, and received a number of approvals. But plans halted when the Council’s zoning committee deferred a vote after Alderman Anthony Napolitano, who represents the 41st Ward, objected, according to Crain’s.

In a lawsuit filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court, GlenStar claimed Napolitano initially gave his support to the project but did a flip-flop after another proposal for affordable housing in a neighboring ward came under fire from residents there. The suit said Napolitano opposes the project because of the affordable housing component. The zoning committee’s refusal to consider it for a vote effectively stops the project, according to the suit.

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With few exceptions, the Council typically defers to the local alderman’s wishes on development and zoning issues. Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents the 44th Ward, was the only member of the Plan Commission to vote against the GlenStar plan, citing Napolitano’s opposition to it.

Napolitano has said the size of the project would put a strain on local schools and police and would lead to overcrowding. GlenStar called that opposition “contrived” in the lawsuit, according to Crain’s. Napolitano pulled his support of the project after the separate Jefferson Park affordable housing controversy “because he was concerned about the inclusion of affordable units in the proposed development,” the lawsuit said.

Napolitano chief of staff Chris Vittorio told Crain’s that claim was “disingenuous” and meant “to put the alderman in a bad light and say he’s against affordable housing.” [Crain’s]John O’Brien