Residents hear plans for two condo buildings on Montrose
by BRIAN NADIG
Opposition to a proposed 12-unit residential project at 4812-18 W. Montrose Ave. was initially strong at a July 9 community meeting, but residents eventually warmed up to the plan after the developer agreed to several revisions.
One of the changes requested by residents surprised Alderman John Arena (45th). An earlier site plan for the vacant 14,200-square-foot parcel called for 12 parking spaces, but at Arena’s request the number was increased to 18 prior to the meeting.
However, many of the 25 residents at the meeting expressed concern about vehicles backing out of the 10 outdoor parking spaces which would be located along an alley behind the proposed two three-story buildings, each with four two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units. The other eight parking spaces would be in two garages.
Several residents said that backing out of the parking spaces along the alley would create a dangerous situation because children ride their bicycles in the alley and because of the large amount of cut-through traffic that the alley attracts when traffic backs up at the intersection of Montrose and Cicero avenues.
Project developer Bart Przyjemski of Noah Properties said that he would address the concerns by building one garage with 12 spaces. He said that the garage entrance would be 8 feet from the alley and that motorists would "nose out" of the garage instead of backing out.
Some residents inquired about having access to the parking from a driveway on Montrose, but project officials said that the zoning code encourages the use of alleys for residential buildings. A plan to build a retail center on the site in 2010 called for a driveway on Montrose.
Reducing the number of parking spaces also would allow for the addition of a 10-foot-wide green space on each side of the garage, Przyjemski said. Some home owners who live across the alley had criticized the lack of landscaping behind the buildings.
Arena said that reducing parking on the site may attract more prople who use public transportation instead of a car. "If you allow more parking spaces, you’re going to get more cars," he said. "There is a direct correlation."
Przyjemski also agreed to change the units from rental to condominiums in response to concerns expressed by residents that renters are less invested in their neighborhood than home owners. The estimated rent would have been about $1,700 for two-bedroom-units and $2,200 for three-bedroom units.
Several design changes to the exterior of the brick buildings also were requested. Increasing the size of the balconies on the front of the buildings and the use of face brick on a portion of the garage are among the changes which Noah representatives said would be considered.
The project would require the site to be rezoned from B3-1 to B2-2, which permits ground-floor residential construction in a business district. The zoning allows one residential unit for every 2,500 square feet of land, but under B2-2, the minimum drops to 1,000 square feet.
Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association zoning task force chairman Brian Wardman said that the proposed zoning would represent an "upzoning" for the community. The association has opposed attempts to make a property denser through a zoning change.
Arena said that he does not have a "blanket policy" for determining when rezoning makes sense but that higher residential density can play a role in revitalizing a commercial district because national chains will not open a store in an area where the customer base is low.
The site is between a gas station and a 21-unit apartment building which has no parking.
Also the meeting, Arena reported that the city is continuing to explore the possibility of moving the city Department of Water Management and Fleet and Facility Services operations at 4900 W. Sunnyside Ave. to the former Mayfair Lumber site, 4825 W. Lawrence Ave., which is for sale. The Mayfair Sanitation facility, 4639 N. Lamon Ave., also would be moved there.
Residents who live near the facilities have complained about increased traffic and parking congestion on side streets. The city gas station at the Sunnyside site would not be moved due to infrastructure issues, Arena said.
Residents heard plans to build two six-unit condominium buildings at 4812-18 W. Montrose Ave. and a community meeting held by Alderman John Arena.
The project, shown in a rendering by Axios Architects and Consultants, would require the site to be rezoned from B3-1 to B2-2.