Music academy proposed for Forest Glen church
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) is supporting a plan to convert a Forest Glen church into a music school and will be issuing “a letter of no objection” about a proposal to build a mixed-use development in the Hollywood-North Park area.
A nonprofit music school is planning to acquire the First Congregational Church of Forest Glen property at 5400 N. Lawler Ave., pending the issuance of a permit to establish a recreational use in a residentially zoned district, according to a Nugent spokesman. The Zoning Board of Appeals is expected have a public hearing on the proposal.
The Academy of Music of the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra plans to renovate and modernize the building, the spokesman said. The academy has an office at 5844 N. Milwaukee Ave., and its orchestra has performed a variety of venues, including the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
The Forest Glen Community Club held a meeting in September to discuss the proposal and later issued a letter to Nugent stating that while it had some traffic and parking concerns about the project, it would not be be objecting to the proposal.
“Both Catalpa and Lawler avenues are filled during the day with Metra spillover parking, and Lawler has become an alternate routine for Forest Glen Avenue and Cicero traffic during the afternoon commute. As a result, this area is quite congested. Parking is general not available to residents during the daytime,” the letter stated.
The academy has agreed to work with the community to find “creative solutions” to parking issues, but except for occasional concerts, large crowds would not be expected when the building is being used for lessons and classes, the spokesman said.
The community club holds its membership meetings at the church, which still hosts services on Sundays, and the academy would be allowing those meetings to continue there. A representative of the church could not be reached for comment, but the building reportedly was constructed about 65 years ago.
Meanwhile, a zoning application to build a 30-unit apartment building with ground-floor storefronts at 3244-50 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. was recently filed with the city. The project would include the preservation of the decorative façade elements of the existing storefronts on the 12,500-square-foot parcel.
“It is clear the community wants the project to be as green as possible … green roof, energy efficiency, landscaping, green building materials,” the spokesman said. “Following the lead of the (Hollywood-North Park) Community Association, Alderman Nugent will be issuing a letter of no objection for this project,” the spokesman said.
Without any objections from Nugent, it is expected that the City Council would approve rezoning the site from B1-2 to the less restrictive B2-3 to accommodate the planned four-story building. The upper floors would be set back several feet from the façade so that they would less visible to passers-by.