Community meeting set for revised Long-Argyle apartment plan




by BRIAN NADIG

Alderman John Arena (45th) will hold a community meeting this month on a proposal to build a 3 ½-story, 48-unit apartment complex on a vacant lot at the northeast corner of Argyle Street and Long Avenue, across from the Jefferson Park Metra Station.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 16, at the Eden United Church of Christ, 5051 W. Gunnison St. Plans call for the complex to consist of two 36-foot-tall buildings, a landscaped courtyard and 48 interior and two outdoor parking spaces. Each unit would have balcony and two bedrooms and either one or two bathrooms.

When proposed in 2014, the project was 47 feet tall, with four floors of apartments being built over ground-floor parking, but the revised proposal calls for three floors of living units over below-grade parking. The total number of apartments remains unchanged from 2014.

Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that the revised proposal addresses the height concerns which were raised about the initial plan. “The standard height of a three-story apartment building in Chicago is 36 feet,” he said.

Since 2014, the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association and a group of area home owners have collected about 1,600 signatures on a petition which opposes project. The proposal was one of the most debated issues in the 45th Ward aldermanic race in 2015.

Some residents have raised concerns that the project would be too tall and too dense given that the immediate neighborhood to the north and to the east consists primarily of single-family homes and two-flats. Concerns also have been raised that the project would worsen the area’s parking congestion and would increase traffic on Argyle, which they said experiences heavier traffic than most side streets due to the proximity of the Metra station and Beaubien School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave.

Brugh said that the project would cater to professionals who are looking to commute to work via a Metra or CTA Blue Line train. The Metra station is connected to the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Arena has said that he supports density increases near transit centers in an effort to bring more shoppers to adjoining business districts.

Brugh said that the project’s density would not be appropriate if the site were farther from the Metra station. “If this (project) were one block north, it would be summarily dismissed,” he said.

Most of the 48-unit apartment complex would be constructed on the former storage yard for Cowhey Materials and Fuel Company, 5342-44 W. Argyle St. Cowhey’s concrete-mixing plant was on the other side of the Kennedy Expressway at 4849 W. Lipps Ave., which is next to the CTA terminal, and, in a separate project a 13-story, mixed-use project is planned for the Lipps site.

Construction of seven single-family homes on the storage site on Argyle and two more homes on the site of a neighboring two-flat was planned in the late 2000s, but the project stalled due to the decline in the real estate market. The sites on Argyle measure 28,635 square feet.
The apartment proposal calls for the properties to be rezoned from RS-3, which is intended for single-family homes and two-flats, to RT-4.5.

The proposed apartments would be built “to condominium standards” to allow for a switch from rental units to condominiums if the market conditions were to change, Brugh said.

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