Numerous zoning issues on tap on Northwest Side


A proposed multi-family building near Higgins and Central avenues, a planned outdoor patio for a new restaurant at Northwest Highway and Merrimac Avenue and a proposed townhouse development at Belmont and Octavia avenues are among zoning issues in the area.

A five-unit two-story residential building is being proposed for a 5,000-square-foot parcel at 5629 W. Higgins Ave., according Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.

Plans call for the property to be rezoned from RS-3, which is intended for single-family homes and two-flats, to RT-4, which would allow five living units on the site. There are several RT-4-zoned properties on the block, but the block is predominantly zoned RS-3.

There is a 99-year-old single-family home on the site, which is between a single-family home at 5633 W. Higgins Ave. and a four-unit frame apartment building at 5627 W. Higgins Ave., according to the Cook County Assessor’s Office Web site.

Brugh said that Arena will hold a community meeting on the proposal at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the Community Room at the 16th (Jefferson Park) District police station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Also in the area, the Highway House restaurant and bar recently opened at 5653 N. Northwest Hwy., and the operator is seeking to have the 13,865-square-foot parcel rezoned from M1-1 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District to B3-1 Community Shopping District to allow it to open an outdoor patio where food and liquor would be served. The existing zoning of the site allows restaurants but does not allow the patio, project attorney John Pikarski Jr. said.

The Highway House has an incidental liquor license that allows a bar in the restaurant, but a secondary liquor license is required for it to serve liquor on the patio. According to the city’s Web site, patios must close by 11 p.m. on weekdays and by midnight on weekends.

Highway House owner Lisa O’Neill said that in the 1970s the father of a childhood friend operated a bar with a small kitchen in the 90-year-old building. Subsequent occupants included Playoffs, Googy’s Italian restaurant and Kouks Vintage Cafe, and in the early 1990s a men’s social club reportedly opened there, but the city forced it to close within a couple of days.

The bi-level restaurant seats about 60 people and features decorative wood furnishings. "We’re a scratch kitchen," said O’Neill, who went Immaculate Conception School. "We make everything, from our breads to dressings. We grind our own beef, cure our own corned beef and make our own mac and cheese."

Brugh said that Arena plans to hold a community meeting on the patio proposal.

In another zoning matter, Noah Properties is seeking to build a three-story, five-unit townhouse at 7301 W. Belmont Ave., which currently is occupied by a two-story apartment building. Each unit would have an indoor parking space, four of which would be accessed from Octavia.

The parcel is across the street from a car repair shop on the north side of Belmont, but the south side of the block is predominantly residential.

The developer is seeking a special use to allow residential uses on the ground floor of a building in a B3-2 district, which is intended for businesses uses and which allows living units only on the upper floors. The proposal is on the agenda for the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting that will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 15, in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.

Another item on the agenda for the meeting is a proposal that calls for the Christ Center of Hope, Assemblies of God, 5534 N. Kedzie Ave., to lease eight parking spaces at Northside Prep High School, 5501 N. Kedzie Ave.

The church is attempting to comply with the city’s zoning and parking requirements, and it is requesting special uses to establish a religious assembly facility in a B1-1 Neighborhood Shopping District and to allow off-site parking.

The matter will be deferred so that issues related to the project can be resolved, Alderman Margaret Laurino’s spokesman Manuel Galvan said. Laurino supports the church’s efforts to obtain parking, Galvan said.

Also on the agenda for the meeting is a request for variations to allow a second-floor addition to a one-story house at 5318 N. Laramie Ave. Plans also call for a rear second-floor deck which would overhang the garage.