‘The neighborhood has spoken. Build what it’s zoned for,’ Alderman Napolitano says of 2 longtime vacant lots on east side of Harlem Ave.
by BRIAN NADIG
It appears two of the three longtime vacant parcels along Harlem Avenue would have to be redeveloped under their single-family zoning as long as Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) has control over the matter, while a Starbucks Coffee remains under consideration for the third lot.
“He will no longer entertain a zoning change for the lots on the east side of Harlem, at Bryn Mawr and the one at the southeast corner of Talcott,” Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said last month.
Both lots have been vacant for decades and are located in a Norwood Park Special Conservation District, which adds additional lot size requirements to the properties’ RS-1 zoning, which is intended primarily for single-family home construction.
The 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee recently rejected a proposal to rezone the 28,425-square-foot parcel at 5611-37 N. Harlem Ave. for an automated car wash. About 20 years ago the owner took the city to court over a proposed multi-family project for the parcel and lost.
Napolitano has said that some residents raised concerns the parcel could be targeted for a highly dense development given its proximity to the Harlem CTA Station, 5550 N. Harlem Ave., and that they might prefer a commercial development on the site. However, the ward’s advisory committee voted unanimously against the car wash, and a community survey conducted by Napolitano also showed opposition to it.
“The neighborhood has spoken. Build what it’s zoned for,” Napolitano said.
Meanwhile, a proposed zoning change for a Starbucks with a drive-through facility is pending for the vacant parcel at 5600 N. Harlem Ave. The developer is considering changes to the proposal, and the advisory committee is looking to hold a town hall-style meeting on any revised plan for the site, Vittorio said.
Initial plans had called for the Starbucks to include an indoor dining section, but it was later removed. Two committee members said that an indoor section was an important amenity for local residents who would like meet up with their neighbors for a cup of coffee.
Also in the 41st Ward, a special use and a zoning variation are being sought for an existing gas station site at 6411 N. Northwest Hwy. to accommodate a new station and accessory convenience store.
In addition, a front setback reduction from 26 to 20 feet is being sought for a proposed two-story house with a rear second-story deck at 7124 N. Iona Ave., where a permit is pending to demolish the existing home.