by Katlyn Smith for the Daily Herald

February 28, 2024


Glen Ellyn trustees have agreed to sell nearly an acre of village-owned land for $1.75 million to a nonprofit developer planning to build affordable housing on a portion of the former motel site.

Chicago-based Full Circle Communities aims to turn the property near Roosevelt Road and Park Boulevard into an apartment complex with up to 42 units. No less than 30% of the units would be set aside as permanent supportive housing for people with disabilities.

Advocates on Tuesday cheered the decision, saying they hope the long-sough project inspires other suburban communities to address a critical shortage of affordable housing.

“It took a village to get this done,” said Roger Hughes, a Glen Ellyn resident and leader of DuPage United, a group of area churches, synagogues, mosques and nonprofit organizations that have spent years trying to boost the affordable housing supply in the county.

The Glen Ellyn village board unanimously approved the agreement to sell three parcels west of Exmoor Avenue to Full Circle Communities during an often emotional meeting Monday night. Full Circle has until May 1, 2025, to close on the purchase.

“What we are contemplating is not only transformational, it’s generational,” said Village President Mark Senak.

“Families will now have a chance to stay close to each other,” he said. “Young adults who would have been forced to move miles away to find a place to live will now have a chance to stay in the community where their family and friends live, where they grew up, where they go to school, and where many of them work.”

The board’s vote came after much study and resident debate over how to redevelop the site containing the old Budgetel Inn & Suites and America’s Best Value Inn. Glen Ellyn trustees moved in June 2021 to take control of the deteriorating property, occupied by motels since the 1950s and split by Exmoor Avenue.

The village completed its $2.85 million purchase in January 2022, hired a consultant to recruit potential developers and commissioned a market analysis.

“This property was for sale for years, and there were no takers,” Senak said. “It was an eyesore by any definition.”

Some nearby residents argued against the affordable housing proposal, raising concerns about diminished property values, and pushed for commercial redevelopment.

The village recently signed a letter of intent with a commercial developer for the parcels on the east side of Exmoor Avenue. The developer has offered the village $1.5 million and currently owns the adjacent commercial property, which includes the Starbucks and Chipotle along Roosevelt Road.

Combined, the offers for the east and west sides of the property amount to $3.25 million — higher than the only two offers the village received for the
entire site, Senak said.

“It was really the best two options for our community overall,” Trustee Anne Gould said. “It was a compromise.”

Affordable housing advocates have said the hotel site “checks all the boxes.” It's accessible to public transit, schools and health care. It's across the street from a
park and within a quarter-mile of three grocery stores.

“This isn't going to fix everyone's housing problem, but it's going to change the lives of 42 families,” Hughes said.

The village last year released a housing assessment that showed 80 of Glen Ellyn’s 96 existing affordable units are restricted to seniors 55 and older. According to the study, smaller, more affordable homes are being demolished and replaced with larger ones as Glen Ellyn becomes more affluent. Recent census data indicated the median household income in Glen Ellyn was about $128,000.

“The housing study points out that this shortage is particularly acute for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Senak said. “In fact, we would need to add 283 units of affordable and accessible housing to Glen Ellyn to close the gap for existing residents ages 18 to 64 living with cognitive disabilities in Glen Ellyn.”

In Elgin, Full Circle converted the historic Larkin Center into an affordable housing complex that offers transportation assistance, health and wellness programs, and case management. Full Circle also plans to partner with other organizations to provide on-site supportive services in the Glen Ellyn development. Based on the initial concept, tenants would make between 30% and 80% of the area median income.

Still, DuPage United members say they ran into not-in-my-back-yard attitudes from some residents and sought to counter misinformation about affordable housing.

“Are we a community that builds walls? Or are we one that builds bridges? And last night, I think, proved that Glen Ellyn is a community that builds bridges,”
Hughes said.

There’s still work to do, advocates said. Full Circle also must seek zoning entitlements from the village before the project becomes a reality.