Ald. Sposato supports rezoning Irving-Central site, but undecided on drive-thru





by BRIAN NADIG

A plan to build a coffee shop with a drive-through facility at 5553-57 W. Irving Park Road has been resurrected by a new developer for the project.

Plans call for the construction of the coffee shop, a one-story retail building and 41 parking spaces on the 35,535-square-foot parcel, which is at the southeast corner of the intersection of Irving Park and Central Avenue. The site has been used for vehicle storage in recent years.

Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) said that he supports rezoning the site from its current residential designation to B3-1, which allows a variety of retail uses, in part because a residential development on such a busy commercial corner is not appropriate. Sposato held a community meeting on the proposal on Nov. 10.

The parcel has been underutilized for about 10 years, generating insufficient tax revenue for the city, Sposato said. “It’s time for the chain-link fence to come down,” he said.

Sposato said that he needs more time to evaluate the effect of a drive-through facility, which requires the Zoning Board of Appeals to issue a special use permit. The board acts independently of the City Council.

The Portage Park Neighborhood Association has opposed a drive-through for the site because of concern that it would increase traffic at a busy intersection and encourage drivers to make risky maneuvers to get into the parking lot. A bus stop on Irving Park is in front of the site.

Sposato said that he hopes that developer Sumac Inc. will proceed with a retail development on the site whether or not the zoning board approves the special use.

Project officials have not revealed the name of the national coffee chain that it is interested in the site, but Starbucks Coffee reportedly was the tenant that the previous developer was pursuing for the parcel in June.

Some residents have opposed the project because of concern that a Starbucks would hurt business at two locally owned coffeehouses, Portage Grounds, 5501 W. Irving Park Road, and Perkolator, 6032 W. Irving Park Road.

Sposato said that it is doubtful that any type of business on the site would be unique to the area. “I can’t tell (the developer) what business can and cannot come there,” he said. “Name any business. Let’s say pizza goes there. I’ve got pizza a block away, then 3 blocks.”

Also at the Nov. 10 meeting, it was announced that plans for a 30-unit residential development at 4111 N. Narragansett Ave. have been revised due to the existence of power lines in the middle of the 36,000-square-foot parcel. The developer, Noah Properties, plans to construct two three-story buildings, each with 15 apartments.

The rent for the apartments is projected to be about $2,200 a month, Sposato said. The site was rezoned for the project, which once called for three eight-unit buildings and five townhouses, last year.

In addition, a three-story, 15-unit apartment building has been proposed for the former Chicagoland Canoe Base site, 4015 N. Narragansett Ave. The rent for the apartments is projected to be about $1,775 a month.

At one time a Dunkin’ Donuts had been planned for the site, but the zoning board denied a special use permit for the planned drive-through facility.

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