Redevelopment proposed for auto storage lot


A commercial development could be coming to a vehicle storage lot in Portage Park, while plans are moving forward to build a Starbucks coffee shop in Norwood Park.

Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) was scheduled to hold a community meeting Tuesday evening, June 14, on a redevelopment proposal for a 32,000-square-foot parcel at the southeast corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue, where a Saturn dealership closed in 2007. The site is across the street from Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave.

A proposal was made in 2015 to rezone the site so it could be used by a company which buys cars and transports them elsewhere to be sold, but the plan was dropped.

The property, at 5555 W. Irving Park Road, is being used to store vehicles for a car dealership, but that use is not allowed under the RT-4 zoning of the site. The existing zoning is intended primarily for multi-family construction.

A spokesman for Sposato said that plans for the development are preliminary and that the alderman wants the developer to get the opinions of residents before proceeding further.

An initial plan reportedly showed two one-story buildings, one of at the northwest corner of the property and the other set further back from the street.

The Sposato spokesman said that no tenants for the commercial space have been confirmed, but the Portage Park Neighborhood Association reported on its Facebook page that Sposato’s office has informed the group that Starbucks is considering the site. Also in the Portage Park area, plans recently were announced for a new Starbucks at Cicero and Berteau avenues.

Meanwhile, application for a special use permit has been filed with the city to allow a Starbucks shop with a drive-through facility on a vacant 27,000-square-foot parcel at the southeast corner of Northwest Highway and Harlem Avenue. The triangular parcel, which has been for sale for several years, was once used to store cars for the former Norwood Park Dodge dealership.

Several members of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee have expressed support for the Starbucks as long as the city Department of Transportation approves a traffic plan for the site, at 6340 N. Northwest Hwy.

Concern was expressed at committee meetings that the coffee shop could attract a high number of cars to the site, causing traffic to back up onto a railroad crossing on Harlem. The driveway on Harlem would be restricted to right turns for both entering and exiting vehicles, according to an aide to Alderman Anthony Napolitano.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to hear the request for the special use at its meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, June 17, in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. The board’s afternoon session will include a hearing on requests for special uses that would allow a mosque and community center to operate at 4846 and 4856 N. Elston Ave.