Gardiner now supports ‘Point’ senior housing
by BRIAN NADIG
The plan for a 10-story, high-end senior housing development at 4747 W. Irving Park Road is moving forward after project officials agreed to increase the planned number of independent living apartments from 103 to 114 and to reduce the number of assisted living units from 114 to 98 and thus garnering 45th Ward Alderman Jim Gardiner’s support.
In all, the $130 million "Point at Six Corners" project would consist of 258 senior housing units, including 11 affordable independent living units and 46 memory care units. Previous plans called for 10 affordable living units and 44 memory care units.
Monthly rents would range from $4,100 to $7,700, with the affordable units around $1,200.
The project also would feature 45,000 square-feet of commercial space, public plazas and 215 parking spaces. The southern portion of the complex, where an Aldi grocery store would be located, would be one-story tall.
Tentative plans call for construction to start this November, with the Aldi opening a year later and the senior building beginning in October of 2022. Clarendale Senior Living would be managing the housing units.
Revisions to the project, which has been in the works for 3 years, were presented at a Feb. 18 community meeting that Gardiner held at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
"I made the most of what was handed to me when I took office … 9 months ago," Gardiner said, adding that he now supports the proposal. "We were able to bring forth what we believe is in the best interests (of the community)."
Gardiner said that he has taken "a lot of heat" for not supporting the proposal earlier and that the "overwhelming" feedback has been to "fill that hole," in reference to the water which collects there on the site of the former Bank of America site that was demolished in 2016.
Gardiner has previously expressed concerns that the building would be too tall and that the typical senior in the community would be unable to afford the high rents. He has said that tenants who run out of money could face eviction because the building would not be Medicaid-eligible.
Under the revised proposal the height of the project would remain 10 stories. It would be about 30 feet taller than the planned mixed-use, eight-story Sears redevelopment project at 4730 W. Irving Park Road.
Gardiner said that while the developers refused to lower the height, the planned increase in independent living units is significant because it would mean more tenants with the mobility to take walks and patronize local businesses. He added that the assisted living tenants are much more likely to stay in the building unless a family member helps to take them out of the building.
Gardiner also reported that the development team, Clark Street Real Estate and Ryan Companies, has agreed to sponsor a one-time $100,000 college scholarship for a Schurz High School student and to waive the tenant initiation fee for veterans during the first 12 months of the building’s operation. The fee ranges from about $3,000 to $5,000.
In 2018, plans called for the project’s required affordable units to be constructed off-site, within 2 miles of the development parcel, as allowed under city law. At the time project officials expressed concern that it would not be economically feasible to provide the complex’s "cruise ship" amenities to those tenants paying reduced rents.
At Gardiner’s request, the developers have agreed to include the affordable units inside the 10-story complex. Those reduced-rent units would be made available to senior households earning up to $38,000 a year.
Meanwhile, a resident at the meeting contended that Gardiner had cost the developer "time and money" because the revised plan was essentially the same proposal as a year ago and not much has changed.
Gardiner responded that making the affordable units on-site has "expedited" the project because construction would not have begun until the developers had identified an off-site location for the affordable units. He said that the location had not been determined when he took office last May.
At one time it was announced that the developers were looking into converting the convent at Saint Cornelius Church, 5430 W. Foster Ave., into a senior building and placing the affordable units there, but that reportedly was later ruled out.
In the meeting’s presentation, representatives of the development team said that currently there is no market-rate senior housing complex in the 45th Ward and that there will be a "rapid" growing need for more senior units. An 11-percent increase in those age 75 and older living in the market area is anticipated in 5 years, they said.
The developers also argued that the projected rents fall in the middle range of the standard, market-rate senior housing rents in the Chicago metro area. The rents would include cable TV, food services, major appliance repair, fitness classes and housekeeping.
Audience comments at the meeting were overwhelming in support of the project.
Concerns were expressed about increased cut-through traffic on Kilpatrick Avenue and the dangers facing bicyclists on the area’s main thoroughfares. One resident chastised the developers for the "crappy" condition of the property, while another said, "Thank you for filling the damn hole."
Meanwhile, plans call for street parking along the east side of Milwaukee in front of the development site to be restored. In 2017 the parking was removed and replaced with a dedicated bike lane.
In 2016 redevelopment plans for the nearly 4-acre site called for a one-story retail with rooftop parking, Clark Street partnered with Ryan to bring a senior development to the property.
Former alderman John Arena tried to get the City Council to approve the project during his final weeks in office, but Gardiner urged for a delay, and a public hearing on the proposal in April was postponed.
A Six Corners Master Plan calls for a four- or five-story building on the site, but project officials have said that the plan serves only as a recommendation.
Next up for Six Corners could be the redevelopment of the Peoples Gas facility at 3955 N. Kilpatrick Ave. Between the Sears and Point developments, about 700 new housing units are planned for the Kilpatrick-Irving Park area. It is not known if the anticipated Peoples Gas redevelopment will be adding to that total.