Apartment’s condition key to Crestwood dispute
Apartment C-107in Crestwood Place is currently being used for storage .Some have argued that renting out the unit could generate income for the village, while management alleges it would cost $18,000 to prepare the apartment for rent. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:20AM
Unit C-107 seems way too modest to be inciting the anger of residents at Crestwood Place Senior Apartments in Northbrook.
Questions about its use, plus the discontinuation of Tuesday bus service, has led the tenants of the village-owned building at 1000 Waukegan Road to call for the removal of two members from the Senior Services Commission, Burt Ofsaiof and Marshall Gardner.
And residents have even gone so far as to call for their eviction from their apartments at the site.
Unit C-107’s high windows, maybe 2 by 3 feet each, let a fair amount of light into the living room and bedroom, though they boast no view.
The unit’s pressed wood kitchen cabinets look like new. The formica countertops are in excellent condition, though they never would have been stylish enough to be found in Better Homes and Gardens.
Although not new, the electric range seems to work well enough to cook whatever is put into its oven and on its burners.
The refrigerator, which holds a variety of foods, also has a freezer crammed so full the door barely closes.
And the spotless bathroom holds enough personal items in its cabinets to give the impression that someone has no trouble spending a lot of time there.
But items of various sizes and uses also line the apartment walls giving testament to the fact that the space is used for storage, too.
And some see that as the apartment’s only feasible use.
John Kollar, a former Senior Services Commissioner who gave up his place on the board because of health issues, said the unit is “a fire trap.”
“If there was a disaster and the tenant was disabled, how would he get out if he couldn’t get out the door? The unit is below grade and the windows are 5 feet up. There is a huge egress problem here,” said Kollar, a licensed architect.
“If someone did get out a window, there is a window well outside and a 60-pound cast iron grate covering it.”
The other apartments at least have windows that tenants can open and from which they can wave handkerchiefs to attract help, Kollar said.
The last time the apartment was rented, perhaps as long as 10 years ago, the cost was about $300 a month, only about $3,600 a year.
To be rented now, the unit would need updating — new kitchen fixtures, cabinets, appliances, carpeting and top-to-bottom painting — that has been estimated at $18,000 by Marsha Crane, the building manager, he added.
So the unit has been used as a lunch room for staff and for storage the last several years, Kollar noted.
Also, the architects who designed the building’s interior were not accustomed to creating residential space, and did not include storage areas, he said.
“For the amount of rent that the unit would bring in, and all the years it would take to recoup the cost of renovating the unit, let the staff have their lunch there, and store their files and cleaning equipment there,” Killar said.
“It isn’t worth the effort to rent it.”
Kevin Frangiamore, director of the Northbrook Fire Prevention Bureau, said that he has looked at the apartment and has no issues with it.
“It can be used for whatever anyone wants to use it for. It was used as an apartment before and it can be again. It also can be used as a party room, a meeting room or whatever. It’s fine,” he added.
Dan Kaup, assistant to the villager manager who is the liaison between the village board the advisory Senior Services Commission, said the nine commission members are considering their votes on the issue now.
“The members wanted to see the apartment themselves before making a decision, which they did last Thursday. They will probably vote on this at their next meeting, July 12.”