Mixed-use plan raises parking concerns
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns that a proposed 21-unit apartment complex with seven storefronts on the former site of Eden’s Banquets, 6311-23 N. Pulaski Road, would worsen the area’s parking congestion were raised at a May 10 community meeting.
About 40 people attended the meeting at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Chicago, 6040 N. Pulaski Road. Plans call for the construction of three four-story buildings, each with six apartments and two storefronts, and one four-story building, with a storefront and three apartments.
Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) asked project officials to work on a plan to address residents’ concerns that parking would not be provided for the commercial tenants. One ground-floor interior parking space, which would be accessed from a rear alley, would be provided for each apartment.
Laurino said that leasing additional parking at nearby properties should be explored. She said that weekday parking might be available at the site of a planned Romanian church at 3935 W. Devon Ave., where Monastero’s Ristorante is closing later this year.
Project officials said that the 1,100-square-foot storefronts would be primarily for professional uses, including lawyer and medical offices, which typically have a small number of employees. Officials said the storefronts would be too small to attract high volume businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores.
Peterson Park Improvement Association president Sylvia Asllani said that replacing some of the ground-floor commercial space with more parking should be considered.
"The concern is the number of cars," Sauganash Park Community Association president William Morrissey said. "If it’s three (employees) per store, that’s 21 extra spots."
Several residents at the meeting said that parking spaces on Pulaski are often taken by tenants of existing two-flats in the area.
Each apartment would include three bedrooms, two bathrooms, front and rear balconies, and a fireplace. There also would be an elevator in each building.
Some residents expressed concern that rental units were planned, but project officials said that there is not a market for condominiums. The buildings would be constructed in four phases, and all of the apartments would be offered at market rates, with no plans for reduced-rate units as part of the city’s affordable housing program, according to project representatives.
Laurino said that the apartments would be attractive to area residents who are looking to sell their house and want to remain living in Sauganash or Peterson Park. "I think this is a wonderful opportunity for our community to have options in housing," she said.
The project would require the site to be rezoned from B1-1 to the less restrictive B1-3, according to the project’s attorney.
Property owner John Michael said that the site has become "an eyesore" and that the project would represent a major improvement for the area.
Some residents said that while they liked the design of the masonry buildings, four stories would be out of character with the vast majority of buildings along that stretch of Pulaski.
A zoning change for the property was sought in 2015, but the project stalled. Initial plans reportedly called for only residential uses on the property.
Peterson-Pulaski Business and Industrial Council executive director Janita Tucker said that her office receives inquires from doctors and others looking to lease office space in the area. She said that some of the vacant office space in the area appears owned by landlords who are not interested in leasing.