UPDATE: 24 townhouses planned for Lawrence-Austin


The construction of 24 townhouses is planned for a longtime vacant parcel at the southwest corner of Austin and Lawrence avenues.

“It looks like a nice project,” said Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th).  “Anything is better than a vacant eyesore corner.”

The proposal calls for 48 indoor parking spaces and some additional outdoor parking for visitors and for each building to be 37 feet tall. A 2007 plan to build 24 condominiums, several storefronts and three six-flats on the 49,000-square-foot parcel never materialized due to the downturn in the real estate market.

The project requires a portion of the site, whose address is 4744-58 N. Austin Ave. and 6001-21 W. Lawrence Ave., to be rezoned from B2-3 Neighborhood Mixed-Use District to RT-4 Residential Two-Flat, Townhouse and Multi-Unit District.

Also in the neighboring 45th Ward, a zoning application was filed to construct a two-story building with five residential units at 5629 W. Higgins Ave., where a single-family house would be demolished.

Residents have voiced concerns that the project would be too dense and that more parking would be needed. Plans call for five parking spaces that would be accessible from a rear alley, and two on-site street parking spaces would be created because an existing driveway on Higgins would be closed.

Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that at the alderman’s request, the developer considered reducing the number of units, but it would not be economically feasible to do. “They had a reasonable explanation, and it is moving forward,” Brugh said of the project.

In addition, Arena is seeking to donwzone the site of several industrial buildings which are located at 5140-90 N. Northwest Highway. The proposal calls for the properties, which have been for sale or lease in recent years, to be rezoned from M1-1 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District to B1-1 Neighborhood Shopping District, which is the city’s most restrictive classification for business uses.

The rezoning would not affect existing businesses on the block, Brugh said.

“Basically this is an effort to make sure that whatever happens on those properties, the community has some input on it,” Brugh said. The block’s redevelopment will be discussed as part of the Jefferson Park master plan which will be put together in the next year, he said.