Bank plan well received but residents want Gladstone Park 6-flat proposal scaled back
by BRIAN NADIG
At a Nov. 20 community meeting, residents were supportive of a plan to build a new Chase Bank at 5813 N. Milwaukee Ave. but called for a proposal to build a 3 ½-story, six-flat at 5488 N. Menard Ave. to be scaled back in size.
“I think it’s great for the neighborhood,” Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) said of the bank proposal. “It’s bringing a $4 to $5 million investment to the neighborhood. The future of Gladstone Park will only get better.”
About 50 people attended the meeting, which was hosted by Gardiner and the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.
Gardiner said that his zoning review process includes getting initial input for the local neighborhood association and then holding a community meeting.
“I was voted in to represent the interests of the community, and if the community doesn’t want it, I’m against it,” Gardiner said after the meeting.
Under the bank plan, Chase plans to have a new one-story, 6,602-square-foot branch built in front of the main entrance of its current two-story structure at Milwaukee and Austin avenues. The new bank would be located on the far south end of the property, where there is currently a parking lot.
After construction of the new building is completed, the existing 12,000-square-foot bank building would be demolished and replaced with a 46-space parking lot and two drive-through lanes, each with an ATM cash station. Currently the bank has four drive-through lanes which would be removed.
The drive-through lanes would be situated so the the headlights of waiting vehicles would face away from the homes near the bank, and the brightness of the exterior lights for the parking lot would not extend beyond the bank’s property, according to project architect Timothy Meseck.
The parking lot also would include a storm water retention area, possibly a rain garden, Meseck said.
In addition, the parking lot would have four curb cuts, two each on Milwaukee and on Austin. Currently the site has five driveways.
A resident raised concerns about the difficulty of making left turns from the site due to an existing pedestrian island on Milwaukee, while another resident expressed concern that the utility units on the roof of the new bank would be visible from the second-floor of the homes on Austin.
The bank’s operations at the site would run continuously throughout the project, as services would be transferred from the current bank to the new building over a weekend, said Chase market director of real estate Jonathan Krissoff.
The property is zoned B3-1, which allows for the construction of the new building, but a special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals is required for the new drive-through lanes.
After the project is completed, Chase plans to seek redevelopment proposals for the site of its underutilized parking lot on the far north end of the site, Krissoff said. The parking lot measures about an acre, he said.
Meanwhile, Gardiner said that he will be seeking changes to a proposal to build a 38-foot-tall apartment building at the southwest corner of Menard and Catalpa avenues, where a house would be demolished.
Several residents said that the building would not fit in with the character of the neighborhood, which predominantly consists of single-family homes and two-flats.
Under the current proposal each of the six apartments would include three bedrooms, with monthly rents ranging from about $2,000 to $2,500, according to project attorney Rolando Acosta. In addition, the first-floor duplex units would include a basement, and there would be six parking spaces in the rear of the property.
Under the site’s existing RS-3 zoning, two single-family homes or a two-flat could be built there.
Acosta said that project “takes its character” from the nearby commercial buildings at Menard and Milwaukee avenues and from the predominantly B3-1 zoning on Milwaukee, where construction up to 38 feet is allowed. The 6,200-square-foot development site faces a two-story, mixed-used building to the north and the former Bank of America building to the east.