Gardiner seeks input on stalled 6 Corners plan; affordable units may now be on-site
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) is meeting privately with small groups of residents and merchants in an effort to get more feedback on the stalled 10-story senior housing proposal at Six Corners.
In an Aug. 6 Facebook posting, Gardiner asks interested residents to contact his office at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting of neighbors in one of their homes.
Gardiner said that “in the near future” he will host a larger community meeting. “Details will be provided after plans are finalized,” his Facebook posting said.
The revised plan reportedly calls for the project’s 10 affordable housing apartments to be included on-site. The earlier proposal called for the affordable units to be constructed off site within two miles of the development parcel, whose address is 3911 N. Milwaukee Ave. The off-site units would not be restricted to seniors.
The developer, Ryan Companies, has said in the past that it would not be financially feasible to include afordalbe units with $900 a month rent in the same building in which the other units would range from $4,400 to $7,200 a month. The developer has compared the building’s amenities to those of a cruise ship. The existing proposed ordinance for the $120 million project would give the developer flexibility to switch from off-site to on-site units.
Most of the nearly 250 units in the building would be for assisted living or memory care, with about 100 apartments for independent living.
Gardiner has been highly critical of the project, noting that the height would not conform with the four- or five-story recommendation in the Six Corners Master Plan. He also has said that apartments targeted for young professionals may be better suited for the heart of the business district and has said that the rents would be too high for the average senior in the area.
Former alderman John Arena supported the project, but waited almost two years to seek its approval from the City Council. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests show that Arena learned about the senior proposal by early 2017. Plans in 2016 had called for only a one-story retail complex with rooftop parking on the former bank site, which currently is a large hole that collects water, but the one-story project reportedly was later determined not to be financially feasible.
In April, the project stalled in the City Council Zoning Committee due to a lack of quorum. Gardiner, who took office on May 20, had been pushing for a delay in the project’s approval, and several committee members left the meeting before the proposal could be heard.
The senior proposal would include ground-floor retail space, including a possible Aldi grocery store.
Project supporters have said that the development would bring much-needed investment to the area, where Sears has closed and the Portage Theater has been closed for 1 ½ years, with no immediate plans for its reopening.