Update: rendering released for planned 16-story building in Jefferson Park; it would be across from 10-story Veterans Square
by BRIAN NADIG
Originally proposed in 2015 at 12 stories tall, the “Jefferson Place” apartment building and parking garage at the northeast corner of Ainslie Street and Lipps Avenue would now be 16 stories in an effort to make the structure more visually appealing.
The 211-foot-tall building would be 65 feet taller than the 10-story Veterans Square office complex at 4849 N. Milwaukee Ave., which currently is the tallest building in Jefferson Park. Both properties are next to the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
“One of the things we heard from the community was that the massing of the building was too much, so we created a staircase effect to the building, instead one straight-up, 12-story building,” said Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh. “The northern one-third will only be six stories (with storefronts and five floors of parking).”
The planned 114 apartments would be located on floors seven through 15 at the south end of the building. The 16th floor would consist of a 4,000-square-foot solarium and a deck.
The building would be constructed on a 25,000-square-foot parcel at 4849 N, Lipps Ave., where a cement-mixing company was once located. The site is now used as a parking lot for tenants of Veterans, which is located across from the Lipps development site.
A proposed development ordinance for the project would govern the Lipps site and Veterans Square, both of which are owned by the Mega Group.
No structural changes for Veterans are planned, but the ordinance would require that dumpsters for both properties be placed in an enclosure. Currently dumpsters for Veterans are stored along the sidewalk on Lipps.
The Chicago Plan Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed development ordinance at its meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 18, in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.
The Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association has presented Arena with a petition against the project. The petition, which about 1,000 people signed, states that the project would be too tall and too dense.
“This is going to set a precedent for our community. It’s out of character,” association zoning committee chairwoman Colleen Murphy said. “Why hasn’t there been a community meeting on the change? First it’s 12, then 13, then 15, now 16 stories. Every single-time there is a change, there should be a meeting.”
Concerns also have been raised that the project would worsen traffic on Ainslie, which is a popular cut-through street.
A community meeting on the project was held in 2015. Arena also receives input of development projects from an advisory group of architects and urban planners, but those meetings are closed to the public.
Arena has said that increased density will play a key role in revitalizing the area’s business district and that a tall structure would be appropriate for the Lipps site because it would be located between a railroad embankment and Veterans. Other redevelopment projects are in the works for lots within about a block of the transit center.
“It has the potential to activate that street (Lipps),” Brugh said. The most northern storefront would have an outdoor plaza that would be ideal for a restaurant, he said.
New trees also are planned for Lipps, and in some areas the sidewalk along the east side of the street will be widened, Brugh said. “It’s a bottleneck,” he said. “Thousands of people walk there (to the terminal).”
In a statement, Arena said that the project would “bring plenty of new regular customers to local businesses, all while minimizing the impact on our blocks of single-family homes and two-flats.
“This building will provide a type of housing that does not currently exist in Jefferson Park: elevator-served apartments with super-fast and convenient access to transit. This kind of building will attract residents wishing to downsize from single-family homes once children move out, as well as young professionals.”
Initially about 250 parking spaces were planned, but the number was later reduced to 200.
The Lipps site generates $21,000 annually in property tax revenue, but the proposed building is estimated to increase the amount to between $275,000 and $350,000, Brugh said. The building also would generate about $50,000 in sales tax each year, he said.
Another neighborhood group, Jefferson Park Forward, does not take stances on specific development projects but has a general policy calling for more density in the community.