Seven-story, 192-apartment building proposed on current TCF Bank site in Downtown Jefferson Park
by BRIAN NADIG
The landscape of Downtown Jefferson Park may be changing over the next several years as a seven-story building with 192 apartments and 5,800-square-feet of commercial space is planned for the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Gale Street across from the bus and train terminal.
If the required zoning for project is approved, it would mean that more than 500 new apartments are in the works for properties in or adjacent to the Jefferson Park commercial district, including several developments in which zoning was approved several years ago but have yet to materialize. One of these developments, a planned five-story building at 4900 N. Milwaukee Ave., is on the same block as the bank on the site of the old Edward Fox Photography studio that was demolished.
The proposed building across from the Jefferson Park Transit Center, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., would be constructed on the north end of a parcel where TCF Bank, 4930 N. Milwaukee Ave., is located. The old bank would be demolished, but a smaller branch with a drive-up facility would be built on the south end of the property.
At its highest elevation, the mixed-use project would be about 88 feet tall, with plans for a landscaped rooftop with a pool. It would be the area’s third tallest building, behind the 10-story Veterans Square at 4849 N. Milwaukee Ave. and the planned 16-story building at 4849 N. Lipps Ave.
The proposal calls for five of the 192 apartments, a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, to be designated “affordable,” being offered at a below-market rate rent to households earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income. Projected monthly rents for the market-rate units reportedly would range from $1,500 to $2,100 and the units would be between 609 to 1,100 square feet.
Other amenities would include a dog run, a fitness center, bicycle storage, and a co-working lounge with a kitchen.
The project calls for 139 parking spaces, some of which would be located in an underground garage. Forty-six of the parking spaces would be for the retail tenants, 86 spaces for the residential tenants and seven spaces for the bank. The site’s proximity to the CTA terminal qualifies the project for a reduction in parking requirements, which normally calls for one space for each residential unit.
Alderman James Gardiner (45th) and representatives of the project’s developer, Draper and Kramer, recently met with the boards of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association and Jefferson Park Forward to discuss the project. The project has been in the works for several years and has gone through several incarnations regarding the height.
“To be clear, this is merely a proposal. Before any decisions are made, I will continue to seek feedback from constituents and do what is in the best interest of our community,” Gardiner said.
“At this point, the project seems to be well thought out and a good fit for Downtown Jefferson Park,” JPF president Ryan Richter said. The exterior design calls for the use of different materials to help break up the bulkiness of the building, he said.
The project’s density makes sense given the site’s proximity to the CTA terminal, Richter said. The developer should look into having adequate space for deliveries on Gale in front of the building given that CTA buses travel the street, he said.
JPNA president Colleen Murphy said that the association welcomes new development but would like to see the project scaled back.
“We like the look of the building … but (its size) would not fit the character of the neighborhood,” Murphy said. “They say it was 10 stories (and 252 apartments), now seven stories, which is fairly big at this point.”
Currently TCF Bank leases its parking lot to the Gale Street Inn restaurant, 4914 N. Milwaukee Ave., and project developers reportedly plan to work with the restaurant to address some of its parking needs.
“Gale Street Inn is excited for any and all development of Downtown Jeff Park and on the Northwest Side. We see this particular project as game changing for us and look forward to the challenge,” Gale Street owner George Karzas said.