Ward advisory board rejects proposal to build new four-flat


The 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Board at its March 4 meeting voted 5-2 against a proposal to build a four-flat on a vacant parcel at 6686 N. Olympia Ave.

While one resident testified that the project would be an improvement for the neighborhood, several others expressed concern that the project would add to parking congestion and that the 2 1/2-story building would later be converted to a six-flat due to plans to have bedrooms in the basement.

Project attorney John Pikarski Jr. told the board that his client would be willing to have a restrictive covenant attached to the deed for the property which would limit the number of living units on the site to four. Six parking spaces were planned, and a seventh space would be available on days there was no garbage pickup, Pikarski said.

Plans called for the property to be rezoned from RS-3 to the less restrictive RT3.5. Without the zoning change, the number of dwelling units allowed on the property is two, and with a minor variation from the city, a third unit would be permitted, Pikarski said.

The four-flat would be constructed between a single-family home and an eight-flat, and half of the existing buildings on the block are nonconforming to the zoning code, Pikarski said. The developer had a building that was on the property demolished due to its deteriorating condition, he said.

Revised plans for the configuration and exterior design of the apartment building were presented at the meeting. Some board members had expressed concern that the rectangular building looked like a schoolhouse, and under the new plan it was L-shaped.

Projected monthly rents for the apartments are $2,000 for single-floor units and $2,500 for duplex units, which include basement space.

The board, which makes recommendations to Alderman Mary O’Connor on zoning issues, voted against the plan despite the revisions. The redevelopment of the site has been discussed at several board meetings, and at one time a six-unit building was proposed.

Board member John Andersen said that the project "does not fit the character of the neighborhood."

Board member Frank Icuss, who represents the Edison Park Community Council, voted for the project. Icuss said that no objections to the proposal were presented at a recent council meeting at the project was discussed.

Several residents of Olympia said that they were not aware of the community council’s meeting.

O’Connor said that she will abide by the advisory board’s recommendation and will oppose the project if a zoning application is filed with the city.

O’Connor said that part of the concern about the project stems from uncertainty about future development of other parcels in the area. She said that a construction fence recently was erected around one building on the block and that it is suspected that another property on the block will soon be put up for sale.

It was reported that a developer is interested in buying Edison Park Community Church, 6675 N. Oketo Ave., which is up for sale. The church was built in 1950, and the property measures about 35,000 square feet, according to a real estate listing.