Alderman Sposato to hold brainstorming session on vacant Irving-Central parcel
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) will be seeking redevelopment suggestions for the former car lot at the southeast corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue at a community meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at the Portage Park Senior Center, 5431 W. Berteau Ave.
“It’s really a meeting about nothing,” Sposato said, adding that he has not received any proposal for the 35,524-square-foot parcel. He is calling the meeting an “economic development brainstorming” session.
In 2017, a proposal for a Starbucks Coffee on the site failed to materialize, and many residents at the time expressed a preference for independent businesses over any national chain or franchise.
The asking price for the property may limit some of the redevelopment options, Sposato said. “You’re not going to have a lot of buyers for $2.85 million,” he said. “You’d have to sell a lot of pizzas to succeed.”
Sposato said that one potential buyer inquired about opening a car wash on the site but that the community likely would not support such a project given the traffic concerns previously raised about the Starbucks, which would have had a drive-through facility.
At Sposato’s request last month, the City Council rezoned the property from C2-1, which would have allowed a car wash, to the more restrictive B1-1. He said that he had the property rezoned to ensure that the community would have input in its redevelopment.
In recent years, dealerships have used the lot for car storage, but it is currently vacant.
The parcel may not remain in the 38th Ward, depending on which ward redistricting map gets chosen in a citywide referendum on Tuesday, June 28. Sposato said that he would pass along any information collected at the meeting to the area’s new alderman if the parcel ends up outside the 38th Ward.
This summer most aldermen are expected to participate in the traditional trade-off in which aldermen start servicing their new ward boundaries, which officially do not take effect until the next council takes office in May of 2023.
The site’s new B1-1 zoning is intended for low-intensity uses such as medical offices and small retail stores, and a zoning change likely would be required for any redevelopment, including residential uses.
The lot’s address is 5553-57 W. Irving Park Road.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, Sposato is asking that only one person per household attends the meeting.
(photo by William Swanson)