Group mulls condo proposal in Edgebrook
by BRIAN NADIG
Developer Tim Pomaville of Ambrosia Homes said that a plan to build a three-story condominium building without a storefront in Downtown Edgebrook makes sense because of at least eight commercial vacancies nearby.
The building would become the first three-story, all-residential building on Devon Avenue in the downtown district. Currently there is a three-story residential building on Lehigh Avenue.
Plans for the proposed building at 5306 W. Devon Ave. were presented at the May 9 meeting of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee. The plans also will be on display from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, at the Edgebrook Library, 5331 W. Devon Ave.
A 2004 master plan study for Edgebrook recommended that all-residential construction be an option for the outskirts of the commercial district. The 3,000-square-foot development site, which is a vacant lot, is located at the far east end of the district.
A resident said that the Central-Devon commercial district is "on life support" and that additional storefront space is not needed.
"The future of the area is luxury residential, and this could be the first step toward that," the man said.
Pomaville, an Edgebrook resident, said that it is difficult for the district to compete with the shopping centers on Touhy Avenue and the convenience of their large parking lots.
"That corridor on Touhy also is killing the Edgebrook district," he said.
Advisory committee member Christine Rosenberg, who also is a board member of the Edgebrook Community Association, said that the planned facade, which would include a pitched roof and a brick veneer, needed more of a commercial feel to fit in with the rest of the block. The community association’s board of directors will discuss the plan at its meeting Monday, May 14.
Pomaville said that he took "cues" for the design from the Edgebrook Lutheran Church, 5252 W. Devon Ave., in part because the typical storefront in the area is "nondescript."
Rosenberg asked Pomaville if he would consider a ceiling taller than 9 feet in the ground-floor unit to leave open the possibility of it being converted to a storefront at a later date. The city requires 12-foot ceilings for new storefronts.
"I’m doing this to be a condo building. It will never be commercial," Pomaville said. "The commercial market in Edgebrook is just not healthy."
Pomaville added that the project would not be economically feasible with fewer units or a shorter building. The projected selling price is $310,000.
A resident said that that the project may attract younger families who cannot afford a single-family home in Edgebrook. Pomaville said that the first floor would be attractive to someone who wants to avoid stairs.
The proposal calls for the property to be rezoned from B3-1 to B2-2, which permits ground-floor residential use in a business district and up to three residential units on the site.
The existing zoning permits no more than one residential unit on the site.
The planned 33-foot-height would not be "much taller than single-family homes in Edgebrook," Pomaville said.
While concerns have been raised about the precedent-setting nature of the project, "a lot (of the proposal) is going in the right direction," Rosenberg said.
Each of the units would have two bedrooms and two baths, and there would be three sets of tandem parking spaces that would accommodate up to six cars.
The building would include a lobby in which owners could buzz people in remotely via their smart phone so that delivery packages could be left inside, Pomaville said.
In 2016, Ambrosia Homes proposed a four-story building with seven residential units and one work space/living unit and three parking spaces on the site.
The proposal was later changed to six stories due to residents’ concerns about the height and parking, but the proposal was withdrawn.
Also at the meeting, Alderman Anthony Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio reported that development guidelines for each commercial district in the ward may be put together. He added that the 2004 Edgebrook study could be updated given its age.
The advisory board also discussed a proposal to replace a bungalow at 6187 N. Northwest Hwy. with a 3 1/2 story condominium building with four duplex units. The projected selling price ranges from $400,00 to $550,000.
Project attorney Paul Kolpak said that the block has several nonconforming, multi-family buildings which could not be constructed under the existing zoning.
Advisory committee member Marc Pelini expressed concern that the planned building and four outdoor parking spaces would take up "every square inch of the property," leaving no green space.
Project officials responded that the triangular shape of the lot created challenges in the project’s design. The existing trees in the parkway would remain.
The owner of a neighboring bungalow told the committee that he is not looking to impede the project but that the proposal would impact his home. "To the west, I’ll be looking at a brick wall," he said.