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Des Plaines Developers Are Hoping To Lure Millennials To 'Burbs

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 23, 2015 7:05PM

If you build a yuppie playground in the suburbs, will they come?

In the perennial struggle between the city and the suburbs to win the hearts of cash-strapped young families, a developer is hoping to give Des Plaines an edge.

The developer Dearborn-Buckingham is building a $90 million residential complex geared toward millennials in downtown Des Plaines, with the promise of such amenities as a fitness spa, game room, communal kitchen and courtyard with barbecue grills and an overall "collegial environment," according to the Daily Herald.

But could the promise of free coffee and a campus straight out of a college brochure be enough to lure young renters out of Chicago?

Some community members don't think so. At a community meeting last week, some attendees suggested the development's target demographic would be reluctant to settle down so close to the S-curve of Northwest Highway, which isn't considered very bike or pedestrian friendly, according to the Daily Herald.

The project would include 127 townhouses and 270 rental apartment units in a 5-story building, all built on a 20-acre former industrial site. Over 135 units would be one-bedrooms, 20 would be studios and 100 would be two-bedrooms, with rents starting at $1,200 a month for the smallest units. The townhouses would be for sale for between $300,000 and $350,000.

Developers are calling it a transit-oriented development, akin to the parking-lite apartment complexes sprouting up in Chicago around transit stops, because of its proximity to the Cumberland Metra station, even though the townhouses would each have a two-car garage.

Living off a Metra station that is only serviced at select times during the day would likely be a far cry from life off a CTA station with trains running at almost all hours. And at $1,200 a month for a studio apartment, renters will see some of the financial benefits of living outside the city, but not by much. (Editor's Note: One of our editors is baffled at this price point when you can get a studio apartment for about the same cost in numerous trendy neighborhoods in the city proper. And "collegial environment?" A few of us on staff would pay not to live there.)

The Des Plaines City Council is slated to consider the project July 20.