Concern expressed on plan for condos
by BRIAN NADIG
Residents living near the site of a proposed five-unit condominium at 5629 W. Higgins Ave., where a single-family home would be demolished, expressed concern about parking and density problems in connection with the project at a Jan. 27 community meeting.
"We’ll talk to the developer about the number of units and see if there is any flexibility there," Alderman John Arena (45th) said at the end of the hour-long meeting, which about 30 people attended. New construction would be limited to one house or a two-flat under the existing RS-3 zoning of the site, while the proposed RT-4 zoning permits up to five units.
Several residents said that the condominium would increase parking congestion on Higgins and on nearby side streets. "You’re putting five families on a footprint where there was one," a resident said.
About two-thirds of the residential buildings on the block are multi-family structures, according to project architect John Hanna.
Project attorney Mark Kupiec said that the building would have five outdoor parking spaces that would be accessible from the rear alley and that a curb cut on Higgins in front of the property would be closed, creating two additional on-street spaces.
Kupiec said that higher density on the site is appropriate because of its proximity to the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. He said that many people, especially younger adults, want access to public transportation and to have fewer cars.
"There is a trend away from the cars," Kupiec said. "Insurance is expensive, and cars are expensive."
A landlord of a nearby building said that he is seeing the trend described by Kupiec, but several residents disagreed. "If you have five units, you’re going to have 10 cars," a resident said.
A six-unit building near the site regularly has 12 cars parked behind it, with the cars stacked behind each other into the six parking spaces provided, according to a resident.
"We can look at what we can do to manage parking in the area," Arena said. "We can give you tools to mitigate it."
Arena recommended that permit zone parking be implemented for nearby side streets and said that his office has the petitions for support signatures from residents. The cost for zone parking is $25 per year for each car.
The two-story building would have three condominiums units on the first floor and two on the second floor. The first-floor units would have room in a basement.
The asking price for the units would average $250,000, according to project developer Wojciech Lejman. Two of the units would have three bedrooms and three baths, and the other units would have two bedrooms and either two or 11/2 baths.
The facade of the building would feature red brick and limestone, and rear and front decks are planned.
Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association Zoning Committee chairman Ron Ernst urged the developer to build a project under the current zoning. "The neighborhood association opposes all zoning changes like this," Ernst said. "When you bought the property, you knew the zoning was for single-family or two-flat. Zoning is about the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood."
Arena said that the single-family character of area side streets should be protected but that "modest density" is appropriate along arterial streets and near transit centers. He said that if ruled out all upzoning requests, Jefferson Park would not get the type of investment it needs to attract stores to the area.
"We’re looking to concentrate the density on the commercial corridor," Arena said.
While Higgins is an arterial street, the 5600 block is almost exclusively residential, a resident said. "We deserve a quiet street," she said.