Residents plan to file lawsuit to stop Northwest Hwy project; update given at GPNA meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
A possible lawsuit to stop the proposed development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway and the creation of an animal rescue organization were discussed at the March 28 meeting of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.
It was reported at the meeting that the newly formed group Northwest Side Unite was planning to file a lawsuit last week but that leaders of the group delayed the filing after the City Council Zoning Committee at its March 27 meeting took no action on a rezoning proposal for the project.
The committee meeting was adjourned due to a lack of quorum but not before committee member Alderman Ed Burke (14th) expressed concern about a settlement agreement which the city had entered with the project’s developer, LSC Development.
LSC sued the city after Alderman John Arena (45th) had the property downzoned last year to stop the initial plan, which called for the industrial building on the site to be retrofitted into a storage facility. At the time there were no plans for apartments on the site, and Arena has said that a storage facility by itself would do little to improve the area’s economic vitality.
LSC claims in its lawsuit that in May of 2016, Arena told the Chicago Plan Commission that there was no proposed construction for the 1.54-acre parcel even through LSC had applied for a permit for a storage facility months earlier. However, by the time of the hearing, the city had voided LSC’s permit due to plans to downzone the block.
The lawsuit also states that Arena would not meet with company representatives until after the downzoning was approved and that construction delays had put the company at risk of defaulting on its $6,375,000 loan. The company spent about $3.5 million on the project for the purchase of the property and interior demolition by the time its lawsuit was filed on June 16.
The subsequent settlement agreement requires Arena and city zoning administrator Patricia Scudiero to support a new plan for a five-story warehouse on half of the parcel and a unspecified residential project on the other half. Arena is calling for the residential project to consist of a seven-story, mixed-income development.
Northwest Side Unite has raised more than $10,000, which is being used for the printing of promotional materials and legal fees. It has set up an account on www.gofundme.com to collect donations and will hold a fund-raiser at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at Paterno’s Pizza, 5303 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Association president Joe DiCiaula said that specifics of the lawsuit would not be
released until it is filed and that any funds which go unused would be donated to a veterans organization. The association is opposing the project and calling for a reduction in its height and density.
Several residents at the meeting said that the project should be for those age 62 and older due to the need for more senior housing in the area. The residents said that a senior complex also would help address concerns that the current proposal, which includes 51 three-bedroom units, could worsen overcrowding at local schools.
Projects officials have said that age restrictions for the tenants are not planned but that the apartments would be marketed heavily toward military veterans. Full Circle Communities, which would buy half of the property from LSC, plans to apply for a Home Depot grant which would require veterans to occupy 20 of the units.
The zoning committee’s next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 12, in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. It is not known if the project will be on the meeting’s agenda, which must be finalized at least 48 hours before the meeting.
LSC could have its lawsuit reinstated if the council does not approve the new plan which is outlined in the settlement agreement. LSC was seeking monetary damages and the re-issuance of its original permit to build only a self-storage warehouse on the property.
Also at the meeting, association vice president John Garrido announced that he and his wife Anna recently formed the Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation, which raised about $12,000 at a recent fund-raiser at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
The foundation’s creation was in response to a grassroots effort on the Northwest Side to help reunite found dogs with their owners and to provide medical care for lost and abandoned dogs. In the past 2 years, volunteers have rescued about 200 dogs, Garrido said. The funds are being used to pay for medical expenses.
The Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center, 7278 N. Milwaukee Ave., has provided low-cost medical care for the dogs, and the Dog House of LC&L, 6460 N. Milwaukee Ave., has provide free spa treatments for the dogs and temporary shelter.
Garrido said that dog licenses should be kept updated because too often the contact information is out-of-date and the owners are not found. He said that a free microchip event for dogs is scheduled for Saturday, April 29, at the 16th (Jefferson Park) District police station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave.
It also was reported at the meeting that several garage burglaries recently occurred in the area and that police were reminding home owners to keep their garages locked. “(The burglars) know if they walk down a block, they’ll find an open garage,” Garrido said.
It also was announced that the association will sponsor beer tent shifts at the “Jeff Fest” music and art festival on Aug. 4 to 6 at Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N. Long Ave., and the “Throwback Music Fest” on Sept. 7 to 9 at Milwaukee and Elston avenues. The association will keep the tips which are collected when its members are volunteering.
The association and the Gladstone Park and Jefferson Park chambers of commerce will hold a community networking event from 5:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at Pasta D’ Arte restaurant, 6311 N. Milwaukee Ave. The restaurant recently expanded its dining and banquet facilities.
The association’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at the Rosedale Park fieldhouse, 6312 W. Rosedale Ave.
Editor’s note: Copies of the lawsuit which LSC filed last year against the City of Chicago and the subsequent settlement agreement are posted below: