Oak Forest's baby boomers will need a place to go as they retire and enter into the senior citizen age bracket, and Weso Development has a plan. The Chicago-based developer has proposed Priory Estates, a community of 110 single-unit homes for residents ages 55 and over.
While developers hope to build on the vacant land at 5820 W. 151st St. as soon as possible, plans are currently only preliminary for the facility that would sit on 32 acres.
Each one-story unit would include two to three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car attached garage. Wes first presented plans to the Planning and Zoning Commission in December. Mayor Hank Kuspa and commissioners expressed concern about recreation for the facility's residents, while residents in attendance worried about traffic and flooding.
Commissioners decided to table to the item.
“There were lots of concerns so we advised to table any vote until developers could answer our questions and address our concerns,” said Planning and Zoning Chairman Jim Stuewe.
While the vote was temporarily put off, city officials and Weso Development agreed that senior housing is vital for Oak Forest and that the property is a good fit for the development.
“Senior housing is very important to Oak Forest,” Stuewe said. “We need housing that will accommodate seniors so they don’t have to move out of the area.”
Stuewe also said that there is only one property in Oak Forest that remotely addresses seniors’ needs and that more developments geared toward seniors are needed.
Jerry Pintaro, of Weso Development, couldn't agree more. The developers acquired the land four years ago with the concept in mind.
“We think that senior housing is in demand with this economy and with a large number of baby boomers becoming senior citizens now,” Pintaro said. “We also thought that the property was a good location because it backs up into a serene area which is surrounded by forest preserves. It will be conducive to what we want to do.”
Pintaro said developers want the opposite of what Kuspa wants for the property—Kuspa would like to see more recreation for seniors, but in a way and area still accessible to all Oak Forest residents.
“We’re concerned with any recreation that will not maintain the character and structure that will cater to the senior citizens,” Pintaro said. “We want to provide a typical lifestyle of a senior citizen. They want a quiet area without all the traffic.”
Pintaro also discussed the matters of traffic and flooding a few weeks after the meeting.
“We have to comply with several regulations; local, state and federal laws all have to be met for storm water management and we will comply with it all,” he said. “There will be more efficient storm water management than before. We will improve the area.”
A traffic study is also in the works to address residents’ concerns.
“We hope that will alleviate any traffic concerns,” Pintaro said. “We will get that back in a few weeks and we will meet with city officials again within the next two months to address their concerns.”
Pintaro said anyone interested in the senior homes or have questions or concerns can contact him.