Sears project at Six Corners reduced to 8 stories
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) supports the revised mixed-use development proposal for the former Sears Department Store site at 4730 W. Irving Park Road after its height was reduced from 10 to 8 stories and the number of affordable housing units was increased from 11 to 16.
The overall number of apartments in the proposal remains unchanged at 434 despite the height reduction, as the one of the planned buildings would be wider than in the earlier proposal.
The revisions were announced at Jan. 27 community meeting which Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) held at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. Many audience of the approximately 325 audience members applauded when they saw the revised renderings and site plan.
“I’m beyond thrilled about this development,” Gardiner said. “I believe this development is in the best interests of the community.”
Gardiner said that the development would “kick start” additional development “north on Milwaukee” Avenue. “I think this is going to bring a lot of energy into the community,” he said.
The $200 million project would include a total of 421 apartments, 13 townhouses (rental) and 790 parking spaces along with a health club, retail stores and a public plaza.
Earlier plans called for the construction of a new 10-story building in the northern half of the site and for parts of the former Sears store on the southern half to be preserved, with apartments on the four upper floors. Under the revised plan, the new building would be eight stories, while the 80-foot height of the former Sears store would remain intact.
Portions of the eight story building would have only 7 floors, consisting of five floors of apartments and two floors of commercial space.
The highest point of the Sears complex would be 90 feet, about 45 feet lower than the stalled senior housing proposal for the former Bank of America site at 4747 W. Irving Park Road. However, Gardiner said that a community meeting on a revised plan for the bank site may soon be scheduled and that he expects the community would “be happy with the outcome” of the ‘Point’ senior proposal.
Rents for the apartments in the Sears Complex would average “just under $2,000” for the studio and one-bedroom units, according to the developers. Amenities would include access to an outdoor pool and a fitness center.
Meanwhile, initial plans called for the Sears site developers, Tucker Development and Seritage Growth Properties, to pay slightly more than $4 million into the city’s housing fund, allowing for a partial buyout of the city’s affordable housing requirement.
The buyout would now be about $3.5 million as the number of planned affordable units is being increased from 11 to 16. The affordable apartments would be leased at below-market rate to families earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.
Some audience members said that the number of affordable units should be at least 10 percent of the total number of apartments, which is the minimum percentage under city law unless a developer opts for a buyout.
“I did everything I possibly could to push that number up,” Gardiner said of the 16 affordable units.
A dog park, which would be open to the public, also is planned.
“It’s a first-class development for a first-class neighborhood, and we expect the city to embrace it,” developer Richard Tucker said. He added that he hopes the project would be completed in 3 years.
At the start of the meeting, Gardiner addressed what he said was a letter a union recently received stating that he is anti-union.
“Anything allowed to be built in the community should be in the best interests of the community,” Gardiner said. “I would not sell out our community if they didn’t have the best interests of our community.”
Gardiner added, “I wouldn’t be standing in front of you today if it wasn’t for … union support.” He said that he expects the project to be built with “100 percent union labor.”