Compromise not reached, but Arena says 5150 project would not be larger than currently planned


A May 15 meeting that included Alderman John Arena (45th) and opponents of a controversial plan to build an apartment complex and warehouse at 5150 N. Northwest Highway did not result in changes to the project’s height and density.

After the meeting, Arena said in a statement that he was committed to making sure that the project would not be any larger than currently proposed. Plans call for a seven-story apartment building with 100 units and a five-story self-storage facility.

The proposed B3-5 zoning, which is the densest classification for community shopping districts, would allow for several hundred apartments on the 1.5-acre parcel, where a former food processing plant is located.

Opponents have said that the development should adhere to the four-story height recommendation in the Gladstone Park Master Plan. Supporters of the project have said that opposition is being fueled by concerns that the complex would include low-income housing for applicants who would be chosen from a Chicago Housing Authority waiting list.

Arena said that the housing developer would not seek to build higher than seven floors and that it would not be economically feasible for the storage company to reduce the height of the warehouse.

Original plans called for only a storage facility on the site, but Arena had the property downzoned to stop the plan. The property owner later sued the city, and Arena later signed a settlement agreement requiring him to support B3-5 zoning for the property. The agreement prohibits Arena from challenging the zoning request.

“I committed to pursuing a restrictive covenant on the housing developer that would guarantee that the building absolutely will not go above seven stories or 100 units,” Arena said. “I also committed to bringing these groups together again to discuss and review architectural and aesthetic options to make sure that this building fits the character of our part of the city.”

The meeting included representatives of the Gladstone Park and Jefferson Park chambers and neighborhood associations, which all oppose the project. Two groups supporting the project, Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park and Access Living, also had representatives at the meeting.

Earlier in May, Arena said that the meeting would be an attempt to “pursue a realistic compromise that does not leave us with blight and stagnation.”

In addition, Alderman Danny Solis, who serves as chairman of the City Council Zoning Committee, was at the meeting.

The committee reportedly may hold a second hearing on the proposal during the 2 p.m. session of its meeting on Monday, May 22, at City Hall. The meeting’s agenda will be posted later this week.

The committee’s first hearing on the proposal ended without a vote being taken.