Sunset Village of Glenview shows changes on horizon

Aaron Ach, co editor-in-chief

Glenview’s most affordable area of residence, the Sunset Village, took a hit a couple of years ago; as of May, the numbers released in a report done by the Glenview Announcements indicates that the mobile home park is only carrying about a third of its capacity.

In 2008, the Village of Glenview sued Richard Klarchek, CEO of Capital First Realty, Inc., the company that formerly held land ownership of Sunset Village. In a settlement with the village, he promised to spend 3.5 million dollars on construction projects. The suit against Klarchek stemmed from repeated maintenance issues, unsanitary water and increasing rent costs. At the time, Klarchek was in the middle of filing for personal bankruptcy, and wound up losing the property after the settlement was suspended in 2010. The settlement was suspended due to the lack of execution regarding the installation of a new water filtration system.

After the Village of Glenview seized the property, many families were evicted or chose to leave because of the mismanagement. According to a previous report done by the Oracle in 2012, over 30 families had to pull students out of Glenview schools by fall 2012. Mike Vilches, president of the Sunset Village residents’ association, attributed the blame for the evictions and financial pressure to Capital

First Realty when he said that while the residents made payments to Sunset Village, Capital First Realty had failed to pay the lenders.

“With the rent-to own switch that seemed to have happened under Klarchek’s [management], many families had to move because their house mortgage was never paid to the lenders by […] Capital First Realty, even though the families had been paying Sunset,” Vilches said. “The removal of these homes and families impacted the entire Sunset Village Community property values, rent revenues and neighborhood appearance.”

Walking around the Sunset Village, the same element of desperation that families experienced but a few years ago wasn’t as apparent. Venturing further into the village, however, the rows upon rows of empty platforms where mobile homes were supposed to be concisely explained the past trauma the Sunset Village has experienced. It also illustrated the importance of change moving forward.

In June 2013, October Investment Properties, LLC.–which has since changed its name to Ravinia Communities–acquired the property. David Worth, principal of Northbrook-based Ravinia Communities, explained the initial goals the company had for improvements within the Sunest Village.

“When we took over management of Sunset Village, our immediate goals were to remedy deferred maintenance and be as responsive as possible to resident concerns,” Worth said.

Following the overturning of the land deeds after Kalrchek’s suspension, residents that stayed felt that improved management is necessary if the Sunset Village wished to remain an affordable option, according to Vilches. Worth feels that management has already made a very important change by “open[ing] up the lines of communication which had all but been nonexistent with the old management.” He also believes that the Sunset Village community’s rebuilding process is at least partially reliant on the willingness of the residents to participate actively in that change.

“I have been told that starting in November management will start the process of fixing the infrastructure and then the streets,” Vilches said. “Already new houses have gone up and new families have moved in. I hope that the residents will see these improvements and begin to be part of the improvement and rebuilding process.”

Increasing management-resident interaction has been an important element of new management from Worth’s perspective, but right now, the primary focus is on getting construction projects under way. Worth explained the process of revamping the filtration system instillation as well as working on other ancillary construction projects throughout the Village, which he expects will be under way by the end of the year.

“We quickly engaged consultants to assist us in a developing a plan to fix the community’s aging infrastructure,” Worth said. “After the six  to nine month period of construction is completed, Sunset will be connected to the Glenview public water system, have a brand new sanitary sewer system and have fully repaved roads throughout the entire community. This lengthy process required coordination with our consultants, negotiating a development agreement with the Village of Glenview and procuring several permits from various Cook County and State of Illinois agencies.”

Aside from compensating for previous faults in management, Worth also said that there are many projects to increase the aestheticism of the residences and surrounding public spaces as well as make other “lifestyle” improvements. Such changes will include complete interior and exterior redesign of the clubhouse, plans for a fitness center, new landscaping near the entrance on Waukegan Road and new community mailboxes. Worth promised, however, that these improvements will be made without rises in rent costs, something that Vilches recognizes as critical for Sunset Village’s health as a community.

Despite coming improvements, there are still just under 170 homes on site out of an available 352 units (maximum capacity) as of May. This maximum number is down from a pre-economic downturn  figure of 423 in 2002. Worth realizes the effort that has and will be involved in earning back the confidence in the community, but is confident that the Sunset Village will return to its status of as an affordable option for local families.SUNSET