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Glendale - Developer Michael Klein is one step closer to being eligible for the public funds he needs to transform the foreclosed and deteriorating Dove Healthcare site at 1633 W. Bender Road into a 57-unit apartment building.

Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy once again made it clear to Klein that the four town-home-style buildings he presented to the plan commission on Nov. 1 would not be approved by the city. At that meeting, plan commissioners did not mince words in comparing the long, single-story buildings to Army barracks and a Motel 6.

Despite the objections aired last month, the majority of the commission on Tuesday, Dec. 6 recommended the common council rezone the property for a 57-unit apartment building. If the council finalizes the rezoning on Monday, Dec. 12, Klein would be able to apply for as much as $1.8 million in assistance through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which subsidizes construction costs and allows the developer to charge lower rents on the 11 three-bedroom units.

"According to state statute, we are actually maxed out in our ability to offer any (tax incremental financing) incentives," Kennedy said. "The fact that there is state and county funding available to assist them in this development would allow for this blighted property that's been vacant for 10 years to be redeveloped."

HOME funding expires at the end of this year, so by Dec. 31, the developers would need a letter from the city of Glendale saying that the property will be rezoned for 57 apartments. If Klein's proposal is ultimately rejected, any future development proposals would require a separate rezoning action by the city.

"Ultimately what we are looking at today is just the zoning change, which is reversible. We are not voting to accept a plan," Commissioner Gary Lippow explained. "What we are ultimately voting on is giving (Klein) the opportunity to prove us wrong - to come back with another plan that is better for the city."

Klein assured the commission that he is working to come up with a new design. Architect Jason Korb explained that the design of the apartments is limited by the 40-foot-deep foundation, which would be impractical to dig up. For that reason, the footprint of any new development would have to conform to the slabs of the existing foundation.

Klein emphasized he plans to work with city officials to develop a plan that is more appealing to the community.

City officials are eager to demolish the former nursing home, which has deteriorated greatly since it was vacated in 2007. The building has several broken windows, and it has gone several winters without heat.

"You couldn't find a worse building anywhere in the North Shore," neighbor Jim Poehlman said. "I'm surprised we haven't had a fire in that building or that something else hasn't happened in there."

As much as Poehlman and would like to see the building torn down, he and several of his neighbors voiced concerns about the added density and traffic that the new apartment building might bring to their neighborhood.

Klein originally proposed a mix of two one-bedrooms, 44 two-bedrooms and 11 three-bedrooms in a $7.5 million facility that would include a party room, fitness center, on-site management and outdoor play space. The one-bedrooms would rent for $950 per month, the two-bedrooms for $1,350 per month and the three-bedrooms for $900 per month. The three-bedrooms are discounted through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

In addition to the apartment buildings, a portion of land on the south end of the property would become a 250-stall parking lot for neighboring David Hobbs Honda.

The commission voted 5-2 to recommend the council rezone the property. Commissioners Jo Ann Shaw and Fred Cohn voted against the rezoning.

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