Commission to hear 50-unit home subdivision, 297-unit (59 affordable) apartment building proposals for 41st Ward
by BRIAN NADIG
Two 41st Ward zoning proposals — a 50-unit single-family subdivision and a 297-unit apartment complex with 59 affordable housing units — are both expected to win approval from the Plan Commission at its Aug. 26 virtual meeting, but only one of those developments would likely be a shoo-in for City Council approval.
The subdivision would be built on an approximately 313,000-square-foot parcel at 7400-04 W. Talcott Ave., next to the outdoor running track at Resurrection College Prep High School. This area was once part of the grounds for the Sisters of the Resurrection convent, which recently was converted into the Amazing Grace Senior Living complex.
Vehicle access to the subdivision would be from Talcott, except for an emergency-only access point on West Everell Avenue for police and fire vehicles.
Each house would have a two-car garage, and there would be 15 on-street parking spaces along a newly created residential street under the proposal, whose developer is Lexington Homes. Initial plans called for some townhouses on the site, but the proposal was revised to have only single-family houses, which would be no taller than 30 feet.
Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) has said that he does not plan to oppose Lexington’s proposal and has described the proposed houses as high-end, with pitched roofs and decorative stone elements. The project is contingent on the approval of a planned development for the property.
Meanwhile, Napolitano has said that he expects the commission to approve — against his wishes — the proposed seven-story apartment complex which would be built on an undeveloped parcel just to the north of the Marriott O’Hare Hotel, 8535 W. Higgins Ave.
Napolitano added that he then expects the proposal to be voted down or deferred indefinitely when it comes up for a revote in the council’s Zoning Committee. The committee voted 11-2 to defer the matter earlier this year, but the city Department of Planning and Development, which endorses the project, is bringing the matter to the commission.
Several years ago the commission approved a nearly identical proposal for the site, while the zoning committee later voted it down 7-5, as former alderman John Arena pushed the committee to approve the project over the objections of Napolitano, who earlier had voted against the Arena-supported 75-unit, mixed-income housing project that is now under construction at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. in the 45th Ward.
At the time developer GlenStar Properties had planned to do a maximum buyout of the affordable housing requirement for the Higgins project, but it later offered to drop its buyout plans and build more affordable units as part of a last-minute attempt to win approval.
“We opposed it when they had no affordable and lied to the zoning committee that they did in 2018, and we will oppose them now in 2021. We have over 7,000 apartments less than approximately 400 yards away. We don’t need more density in housing units. It’s zoned commercial. We need more commercial units with jobs,” Napolitano said this week.
The latest proposal by GlenStar calls for 59 affordable (below-market rate rents) housing units, which is double the current requirement. The minimum number required is seven, as GlenStar could buy out 23 affordable units, paying about $125,000 per unit into a city housing fund.
The proposal also calls for 20 of the affordable units to be for households earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income and for three units limited to those earning no more than 40 percent of the area median income.
The Higgins proposal has been at the center of the debate on aldermanic prerogative, but some members of the zoning committee have voiced support for deferring decisions on local zoning matters to the alderman of that ward.
About three years ago GlenStar sued the city over its failure to approve the development but later dropped the lawsuit.The plan commission’s meeting will start at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, and can be viewed in the commission’s section of the city’s website at www.cityofchicago.org. Commission votes serve as a recommendation to the council, which has final decision-making authority on zoning. The meeting had been originally scheduled for Aug. 19.