Rents at 24-unit Jefferson Park development near Milwaukee-Agatite would range from $1,200 to $2,200; some residents call for more affordable housing units
by BRIAN NADIG
Parking concerns about a proposed 24-unit building at 4415 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Jefferson Park were expressed at a March 11 virtual community meeting, and several residents called for the project to have five affordable housing apartments instead of the planned three.
The building, which would include 3,600 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, would be constructed on a 12,500-square-foot vacant lot, where in 2004 a portion of a three-story building burned down. A firewall saved the building’s northern half, which still exists at the southeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Agatite avenues and which is not part of this proposal. The portion which was destroyed by fire once had a bowling alley on its second floor.
A resident said that a dozen cars often park in the lot and that its elimination along with the additional density which the project would bring to the neighborhood would worsen the area’s parking crunch. “Agatite … has only one or two parking spaces after 4 p.m.,” she said. “Four stories is way bigger than we need there.”
Developer Paul Tsakiris of First Western Properties said that no more than three residents in the building to the north lease space in the lot and that several of the other vehicles are for businesses. He said that many of the existing residential tenants do not have vehicles, instead utilizing ride share or public transportation, and that Milwaukee Avenue has adequate parking to meet area customer/business needs.
Plans call for the proposed building to include 12 indoor and 12 outdoor parking spaces. In addition, there would be 18 two-bedroom units, with monthly rents ranging from $1,800 to $2,200, and six one-bedroom apartments, with rents from $1,200 to $1,500.
Alderman James Gardiner aide Maree Joyce said that permit parking.along Agatite can be considered. The permit zone could be designed to prevent tenants in the proposed building from obtaining permits, freeing the parking for nearby residents, according to project attorney Tyler Manic.
Initial plans called for a six-story building, but Gardiner “effectively threw me out of his office,” said Tsakiris. “The neighborhood wanted four stories.”
Over the years several options were considered for the site, including a dialysis center, but nothing materialized, Tsakiris said.
Manic said that the site’s existing B3-2 zoning permits four stories and 13 units, and the proposed B2-3 is needed to allow for the extra apartments.
Under city guidelines 20 percent of the units should be designated as affordable housing, but the project calls for a partial buyout, as the proposal includes three affordable units, which must be offered at reduced rents to households earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.
Several residents sought a commitment that project meet the 20-percent threshold of five affordable units. It can be more cost effective for developers to pay a buyout fee, often around $150,000 per required affordable unit. The city uses those fees to help create new housing or help preserve existing affordable units.
“That’s a financial analysis we’re not able to do now,” Manic said of the request
Tsakiris said that the planned rents fall within the parameters of affordable housing, but one resident responded that those rents can be raised at anytime, while officially designated affordable units are regulated for 30 years.
“I don’t want my neighbors priced out of the neighborhood,”another resident said.
Gardiner did not attend the meeting, but Joyce said he would get back to residents who send questions about the project.
Manic said that the building’s façade would include masonry and stone with brick patterns. He added that there are four-story structures in the area and that the project would “meet the character of the neighborhood.”
A resident expressed concern about trash in the vacant lot where the building would be constructed.
Another said that the project would represent an improvement for the parcel.
“I’ve met with four (community/business) groups,” Tsakiris said, adding that he grew up in the area and that a partner on the project lives a short walk from the development site. He said that they both attended Lane Tech High School and that his office was once located at Milwaukee and Agatite.
Editor’s note: the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce’s board has voiced support for the proposal. Publisher Brian Nadig, who is chamber president, recused himself from the board’s decision. Additional groups reportedly are supporting the proposal.