Apartments increased, retail eliminated for development
by BRIAN NADIG
The number of apartments in a five-story building proposed for the site at 6550-56 N. Milwaukee Ave. has been increased from 20 to 24, the number of parking spaces has been increased from 20 to 30, and storefronts have been removed from the project.
Several residents said at the Nov. 11 meeting of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Board that more than 24 parking spaces would be needed for the tenants of the two-bedroom units and their visitors. Under the revised plan, the number of apartments on each of the upper floors has been increased from five to six, and eliminating the ground-floor retail space allows the additional parking.
About 10 residents objected to the project. "We’re complaining about density, and what did they do? They added more units," a resident said.
Some of the residents also said that they would prefer that the units be condominiums rather than apartments because renters do not have as much vested interest in the neighborhood. "I have concern too, of renters not taking care of something as good as owners," board member Frank Icuss said.
Project officials have said that the building would appeal to young couples with families who want to eventually buy a home in the area. Projected rents are about $2,200 for each of the 12 two-bedroom units and about $1,750 for each of the 12 one-bedroom units.
Some residents said that the rents would be higher than the typical mortgage in the area, but project officials responded that the rents are in line with similar new construction projects in Park Ridge and Jefferson Park.
The advisory board, which makes recommendations to Alderman Anthony Napolitano on zoning and development issues, plans to vote on the proposal at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Olympia Park fieldhouse, 6566 N. Avondale Ave.
Board chairman Mike Emerson said that the project would be "a little high" but that "it is a nice looking building." Plans call for the apartments to have balconies and for the upper floors to be set back several feet from the first floor, which will have a parking garage, a lobby and a management office.
Board member Marc Pelini expressed concern that the proposed B2-3 zoning would set a precedent for the area. Under the existing B3-1 zoning of the site, no more than six residential units can be built, and the zoning classification between those two classifications allow 16 units to be built on the site.
Project attorney Paul Kolpak said that there is a 50-foot-tall multi-family building on Milwaukee Avenue less than a block from the site. "If it should be any place, it should be on the arterial streets," Kolpak said. "It is not like we’re try to build this next to single-family homes on Milwaukee."
Several board members said that the revised proposal addresses concerns about traffic that were expressed at the board’s Oct. 7 meeting.
Initial plans called for vehicles to enter and exit the garage through the alley, which runs one-way north and which can be accessed from Imlay Street to the south. Under the new plan, vehicles would enter the garage from entrances on Albion Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue and would be required to exit through the alley.
Kolpak said that the changes would reduce the amount of traffic in the alley and on Imlay and that the elimination of the storefronts would further lessen any effect on traffic that the project would have. He said that the 4,000 square feet of retail space likely would have generated more traffic than the four additional apartments.
The $3.5 million project would be constructed on the site of a monument company and the former Lin’s Garden Chinese restaurant.
The agenda for the board’s Dec. 2 meeting also is expected to include a mixed-use proposal at 8535 W. Higgins Ave.