Three buildings in Jefferson Park, Portage Park on Milwaukee Ave being demolished this week; college property up for sale
by BRIAN NADIG
The former Edward Fox Photography, Ernest Meyer Interiors and Finney Company buildings on Milwaukee Avenue are being demolished this week, while a large section of land in the Jefferson Park business district recently went up for sale.
Tentative plans call for a mixed-use development at 4900-08 N. Milwaukee Ave., where the photography studio and upholstery store were once located. The buildings are across from the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that there are no final redevelopment plans for the site and that efforts will be made to ensure that any development there gives a good first impression to the thousands of commuters who walk by there daily. “It’s the front door of our community,” he said.
About a year ago the site’s developer had planned to redevelop only the photography studio parcel, but those plans were canceled after he acquired the former upholstery store and decided to build a single building over both parcels.
Brugh added that a portion of a nearby east-west alley to south of the development site is being vacated and turned into a pedestrian plaza, where mini-concerts or other small events could be held. He said that a lot more pedestrians use than alley than vehicles.
The front part of the two-story Finney building consisted of commercial space and apartments and a rear warehouse-style structure, with a truss ceiling and curved roofline.
Several commercial companies had expressed interest in leasing the building in part due to the unusual nature of the ceiling, but there was a partial collapse of the roof, and it was never repaired, Brugh said. Building code citations were issued, he said.
Under a preliminary plan last year, the Mega Group proposed building nine apartments on the parcel, but Brugh said that plans for the property have not been finalized. The Finney Company is a promotional products company that relocated several years ago to the suburbs.
Meanwhile, Northwestern College, which was established in 1902, closed its Jefferson Park campus in March, and the 1.2-acre site is for sale. The school’s main campus is in Bridgeview.
The property includes buildings at 4811 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 4829 N. Lipps Ave. and a parking lot at 4826-30 N. Lipps Ave.
The buildings and parking lot are located less than a block from the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, and an online promotion for the property calls the site a “terrific” location for a transit-oriented development. A 16-story building with 114 apartments and a parking garage is planned for a nearby parcel at 4849 N. Lipps Ave.
Also in the 45th Ward, a manufacturer of yeast for home and commercial brewers recently acquired two homes at 4712-16 W. Pensacola Ave., which is located behind the headquarters for Omega Yeast Labs, 4739 W. Montrose Ave. One of the homes is partially boarded up.
Brugh said that redevelopment plans for the Pensacola properties have not been finalized but that the lots are zoned M1-1, which is intended primarily for manufacturing uses. The site is located across from the Mayfair Metra Station, 4737 W. Montrose Ave.
Omega provides years to many of the area’s breweries and to brewers in Colorado and along the West Coast. Omega’s owner Lance Shaner has said that he is a home brewer and hopes to someday open a taproom in his facility.