Jeff Park condo plan raises parking, density concerns
by BRIAN NADIG
Residents living near the site of a proposed five-unit condominium at 5629 W. Higgins Ave., where a single-family home would be demolished, expressed parking and density concerns about the project at a Jan. 27 community meeting.
“We’ll talk to the developer about the number of units and see if there is any flexibility there,” Alderman John Arena (45th) said at the end of the hour-long meeting, which about 30 people attended. New construction would be limited to one house or a two-flat under the site’s existing RS-3 zoning, while the proposed RT-4 permits up to five units.
Several residents said that the proposed building would worsen the parking congestion on Higgins and on nearby side streets. “You’re putting five families on a footprint where there was one,” one man said
About two thirds of the existing residential buildings on the block are multi-family structures, according to project architect John Hanna.
Project attorney Mark Kupiec said that the project would include five outdoor parking spaces which would be accessible from a rear alley and that a curb cut on Higgins in front of the property would be closed off, creating two additional on-street spaces.
Kupiec said that higher density on the site makes sense given its proximity to the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. He said that an increasing number of people, especially younger adults, are seeking easy access to public transportation and that they want to reduce the number of cars for their family.
“There is a trend away from the cars. Insurance is experience, and cars are expensive,” Kupiec said.
A landlord of a nearby building said that he is seeing the trend described by Kupiec, but several residents disagreed. “If you have five units, you’re going to have 10 cars,” one woman said.
A six-unit building near the proposed site regularly has 12 cars parked behind it, as the cars are stacked one behind the other into the six parking spaces provided, according to a resident at the meeting.
“We can look at what we can do to manage parking in the area,” Arena said. “We can give you tools to mitigate it.”
Arena recommended that permit zone parking be implemented for nearby side streets and that his office has the petitions which can be used to start the process of collecting support signatures from residents. The cost for zone parking is $25 per year for each car.
Under the proposal, the two-story building would have three condominiums units on the first floor and two on the second floor. The first-floor units would include a basement.
The asking price for the units would average $250,000, according to project developer Wojciech Lejman. Two of the units would have three bedrooms and three baths, while the other units would have two bedrooms and either two or 11/2 baths.
The building’s facade would include red brick and limestone, and rear and front decks are planned.
Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association Zoning Committee chairman Ron Ernst urged the developer to build under the current zoning. “The neighborhood association opposes all zoning changes like this. When you bought the property, you knew the zoning was for single-family or two-flat,” he said. “Zoning is about the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood.”
Arena said that the single-family character on area side streets should be protected but that “modest density” is appropriate along arterial streets and near transit centers. He said that if ruled out all up-zoning requests, Jefferson Park would not get the type of investment it needs to attract more stores to the area.
“We’re looking to concentrate the density on the commercial corridor,” Arena said.
While Higgins is an arterial street, the 5600 block is almost exclusively residential, said a woman at the meeting. “We deserve a quiet street,” she said.