Proposed 36-unit TOD project with 15 parking spaces & 2 or 4 affordable apts. in Jefferson Park gets mixed reviews
by BRIAN NADIG
Tenants for a proposed 36-unit building with 15 parking spaces at Northwest Highway and Carmen Avenue in Jefferson Park would have to pay between $150 and $300 month for a parking space, and those living in the four-story building would not be eligible to obtain a residential permit parking permit for area side streets.
Project attorney Paul Kolpak said at a Dec.3 virtual community meeting that the goal is to provide “an economic disincentive” for prospective tenants with cars given the limited number of on-site parking spaces. He added that the building would be registered with the city’s clerk office as “not eligible” for permit parking in case any tenant tries to seek a permit. According to residents, there currently is not permit parking on Northwest Highway.
“That’s a huge assumption (that tenants wouldn’t have a car),” one resident said. He added that existing residents in the area “play musical chairs” looking for parking and that Carmen is a heavily traveled street during rush hour, making it difficult for pedestrians to cross.
Kolpak said that the building would cater to young professionals looking to live in a market-rate apartment near a transit hub and who may not qualify for affordable housing due to their income level.
The zoning code would require four affordable housing units for the project, but the developer is considering whether to do a partial buyout of the requirement, reducing the number of affordable units to two, according to Kolpak. Affordable units, which are offered at below-market rents, are intended for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income.
One resident called for the project to include more affordable units given the project’s density. Kolpak noted that there will be a significant number of affordable units across the street at 5150 N.Northwest Hwy., where a 75-unit mixed-income complex is under construction.
The building would be constructed on a 11,749-square vacant parcel at 5071 N. Northwest Hwy., which was rezoned in 2007 to RM-4.5 to accommodate a planned 14-unit building with a 14-space underground parking garage. However, it was never built.
The developer of the current project is seeking additional density allowances and a reduction in parking requirements due to the site’s proximity to the Jefferson Park Metra Station parking lot, 5020 N. Northwest Hwy., and the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Normally the proposed B2-3 zoning would permit no more than 29 residential units there, but under the city’s transit-oriented development guidelines, the maximum would be 39 apartments.
In addition, normally one parking space per unit is required, but that is waived for TOD sites. No parking would be required for this project.
The rents would be about $1,000 for studio units (350 square feet), $1,200 to $1,400 for one-bedroom units (478 to 627 square feet) and $1,500 to $1,750 for two-bedroom units (628 to 708 square feet), according to Kolpak. Half of the units would one bedroom, 15 would have two bedrooms and three would be studios.
Also, a roof deck is planned, but there would be no balconies, and six of the 15 parking spaces would be in a garage, with the parking being accessed from Carmen or an alley. There also would be an elevator.
About 75 people participated in the meeting, and overall reaction was mixed, with some praising the TOD concept of the project and others saying it would be too dense.
“We have improvements to make,” Alderman James Gardiner (45th) said at the end of the meeting. “I take everybody’s ideas into consideration” before a decision is made.
One resident said that the project would be an improvement over the existing vacant lot there, while another expressed concern that the building could hinder efforts to improve the area’s “walkablity.” She recommended that the building be set further back from the sidewalk. Along Carmen it would range 1 to 3 feet from the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, there were some objections to the Zoom’s “chat room,” where comments can be written during the meeting, being closed to public viewing. The moderators said that the questions and comments written in the chat were being read and people were being unmuted to speak as their question was being read.
The site is located within a couple of blocks of several approved or proposed development projects, which include 75 units at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., 48 units at 5342 W. Argyle St., 114 units at 5306 W. Ainslie St. and 192 units at 4930 N. Milwaukee Ave.