Demolition planned for former K House of Flowers property
by BRIAN NADIG
The planned demolition of the former K House of Flowers shop at 5241-45 N. Milwaukee Ave. and request for a side-yard variation for a proposed apartment building at 4812-16 W. Montrose Ave. are among development projects in the area.
The longtime owner of the flower shop died early last year, and an investor reportedly purchased the 3,000-square-foot lot at the northeast corner of Milwaukee and Foster avenues. The shop continued to operate for several months after the death of the owner.
There were several attempts to sell the property in the past 10 years, but the sale of the site had always been tied to a developer acquiring additional land to the north on Milwaukee or to the east where Foster becomes Gettysburg Street. The former New Life Church, 5518 W. Gettysburg St., which the Church of the Chicagoans acquired last year, is east of the flower shop.
There have been several reports of retail projects being considered for the church site over the years, and prospective developers for the project expressed interest in also buying the flower shop property. None of those projects ever occurred.
Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that a demolition permit has been sought for the K House property but that redevelopment plans for the site are undecided. "If any plan we receive has merit, we’ll present it to the community," Brugh said.
The B3-1 zoning of the site permits a variety of retail and restaurant uses and restricts residential uses to the upper floors. Under the current zoning, one living unit would be allowed on the property.
The side-yard variation is being requested for a planned 16-unit, 3 1/2-story structure that would be built on a vacant parcel near Montrose and Cicero avenues. The site recently was rezoned to B2-3 for the project.
Project attorney Thomas Pikarski said that normally there are no side setback restrictions for commercial properties but that the variation is required because the site is next to a three-story apartment building on a residentially zoned lot west of it. The setback would be 6.54 feet instead of the required 10 feet.
Arena has expressed support for the proposed apartment building. The Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to hear the variation request early next year.
Also in the 45th Ward, development plans remain undecided for the site of the former Archdiocese of Chicago food processing plant at 5150 N. Northwest Highway. Plans had called for the building to be converted into a self-storage facility, but Arena had the property rezoned to prevent the project.
Brugh said that the city and building’s owner are trying to come to an agreement which would lead to a project that would do more for the area’s economic vitality than a storage facility. A neighboring industrial building is for sale, and Arena has called for a unified redevelopment project for the block.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Plan Commission this month is expected to approve a plan to build a one-story retail center at 6340 N. Northwest Highway, where a Starbucks coffee shop with a drive-through facility already is under construction.
Currently the site, which was once a vehicle storage lot for a dealership, is zoned for manufacturing uses, and the commission is considering the impact that the project would have on the industrial corridor which runs along Northwest Highway between Jefferson Park and Edison Park.
The existing M1-1 zoning permits restaurants but not retail uses unless most of the products are produced on site. Plans call for the site to be rezoned to B3-1, which is intended for shopping districts.