35 homes planned for former Skil Power Tools site in Sauganash
by BRIAN NADIG
A 35 single-family home development planned for the former Skil Power Tool s site at 4300 W. Peterson Ave. got a warm reception at an Oct. 22 community meeting hosted by Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th).
The project does not require a zoning change because it conforms to the requirements of a planned development ordinance which the City Council approved for the site in 2004. The original developer, the Rezmar Corporation, never built the project because of a downturn in the economy, and Tony Rezko, one of Rezmar’s principals, was later found guilty in a political fund-raising scandal.
Laurino said she is glad that the new developer, K. Hovanian Homes, will be building a project that it is nearly identical to the original project, which she called “a very good plan.” She said that new single-family construction is unusual in the city at this time and that the project will be a good fit for the Sauganash community.
“We have tried to address any issues, and I am supporting it,” Laurino said of the project. “Single-family homes in this neighborhood are a win-win situation.”
K. Hovanian is a national company that several years ago purchased Town and Country Homes, which was one of the leading home builders in Chicago, said Laurino aide John Riordan. In the Chicago area, the company closed on 201 homes in 2012.
Called “The Residences at Sauganash Glen,” the project will feature custom-built homes that will measure between about 2,800 and 3,100 square feet, with the amount of living space increasing to 4,500 square feet if the buyer chooses to have a finished basement. The homes will cost between $700,000 and $900,000.
Nineteen of the 2 ½-story homes will face Kildare Avenue, which will be extended through a portion of the development, while the other 16 homes will face Sauganash Avenue to the north. Except for one house which will have a driveway on Sauganash, access to the other garages will be from a series of new alleys that will be accessible from the Kildare extension, which will run from Peterson on the south and dead end at a cul-de-sac in the middle of the development.
Motorists seeking to enter the development will have to do so from Peterson at the Kildare extension, as traffic on Peter son will be prohibited from entering through the alleys. The layout of the development, including the location of the Kildare extension and the alleys, remains unchanged from 2004 plan.
Those vehicles leaving the development will be required to exit onto Peterson via the alleys or the Kildare extension, but left turns will be prohibited from the alley along the west end of the site due to concerns that an adjoining viaduct obstruct the view of motorists. However, left-turn access to Peterson will be allowed from the Kildare extension and the alley along the east end of the development.
Concerns were raised that traffic leaving the development will have trouble turning onto Peterson, but a traffic engineer for the project told residents that nearby existing stoplights at Sauganash Avenue and at Kostner Avenue will allow for breaks in the traffic flow in front of the development.
The developer is planning to work with the city to create a new access point to the Sauganash Trail, which runs along a former railroad embankment that adjoins the site. A staircase leading to the top of the bike/pedestrian trail would be built along a viaduct that faces a small ComEd-owned parcel on Peterson at next to the far west end of the former Skil site.
Several issues, including obtaining permission from ComEd, would have to be sorted out before the stairs could be built, Laurino said. At the time the trail was proposed, some Sauganash Park residents were “reluctant” to have a trail access point in their community but that has changed since the trail opened, she said.
The typical lot in the development will be 3,950 square feet, which one resident said will be undersized when compared to most homes in the community. Many of the homes in the Sauganash area are located on double lots.
Project officials noted that some homes just to the north of the site are on 30-foot-wide lots, which will be the typical lot width in the development. Plans call for the houses to be 24 feet wide with 3-foot-wide side yards.
About 30 of the homes will have detached three-car garages, with the rest having two-car garages. In response to concerns about visitor parking, project officials said that on-street parking would be available along Sauganash and the Kildare extension, which could accommodate up to 25 cars.
Buyers will be able to choose among five façade designs and within each of those categories different colors and window trims will be available. An elevator also will be offered as an option for each home.
Laurino said that she has discussed the project with representatives of the Sauganash Park Community Association, the Sauganash Community Association and the Sauganash Chamber of Commerce and feels comfortable with the project moving forward. Plans call for construction to begin next year and to be completed in 2016.
Over the years a variety of projects have been proposed for the site, which prior to Skil served as the headquarters of Walgreen’s. Most recently in 2011, Swedish Covenant Hospital and Alden Health Care considered building a three-story professional building and 84 mixed-income rental units on the site, but residents objected to certain aspects of the proposal, including a plan to have a driveway off Sauganash.
Before Rezmar’s proposal in 2004, other proposals for the site included the construction of townhouses. The property was sold in 2009 to a development group associated with Inland Bank and Trust Holdings for about $3.4 million.
About a year ago some community groups worked with Laurino to have a community garden installed on a temporary basis on the property, but those plans never materialized.