Members wary of development plan


Members of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Board said that a proposed five-story mixed-use building at 6556 N. Milwaukee Ave. would be too tall and that it needs more parking at the board’s Oct. 7 meeting.

"Why all of sudden to 65 feet?" board member Frank Icuss said. "People are going to argue you’re taking my sunshine away."

The upper residential floors would be set back to allow second-floor terraces to be built over the storefronts. The building would be constructed on a 17,190-square-foot parcel at the southwest corner of Milwaukee and Albion avenues, where a monument company and the former Lin’s Garden restaurant are located.

Twenty apartments and about 3,900 square feet of ground-floor retail space are planned, and a 20-space residential parking garage would be accessed from a rear alley which runs one-way north and which can be reached from Imlay Street to the south.

While no parking would be designated for the commercial tenants, there are nine public parking spaces on Albion next to the site. The Zoning Code requires one parking space for each apartment, but it does not require parking for the commercial space.

Several board members recommended that the developer consider removing some or all of the retail space to allow for more parking. Icuss said that renting commercial space in mixed-use buildings can be difficult and that a zoning change was sought to allow the storefronts in a condominium building at Caldwell and Touhy avenues to be converted to residential because of a leasing issue.

Project attorney Paul Kolpak said that the location of building would attract tenants who use public transportation. He said that the site is within walking distance of bus stops for the Pace 270 bus to the Jefferson Park CTA terminal and the Niles free bus service.

"Yes, there is a bus there, but this is an area where people drive," board member Liz DeChant said.

In response to concerns about congestion in the alley, some board members asked if a driveway at the south end of the site could be maintained and used as the main access to the garage instead of the alley. Kolpak said that the city Department of Transportation would have to study the feasibility of that option.

Concerns also were expressed about how traffic jams on Milwaukee block Albion. "I avoid that area like the plague during rush hour because you can’t get through," Icuss said.

Alderman Anthony Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said that regardless of whether the project is approved, the alderman would investigate addressing parking and traffic issues in the neighborhood. Commuters who ride the 270 bus park on Albion, according to area residents.

The proposal calls for the site to be rezoned from B3-1, which would allow six residential units on the site, to the less restrictive B3-3. The apartments, which would have a terrace or a balcony, would average 1,200 square feet in size, and the monthly rents are projected to range from $1,750 to $2,200.

Project officials said that the building would attract or young families, who want to rent in the neighborhood but who have a long-range plan to buy a home in the area.

The proposal is scheduled to be on the agenda for the board’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the Olympia Park fieldhouse, 6566 N. Avondale Ave.