Council committee approves Gardiner’s proposal to downzone vacant Long-Argyle lot in Jefferson Park; land recently went up for sale
by BRIAN NADIG
The City Council Zoning Committee at its Nov. 16 meeting unanimously approved the downzoning of a 28,125-square-foot vacant parcel at 5338 W. Argyle St. which was rezoned five years ago for a 48-unit apartment complex that has never been built.
The land went up for sale earlier this year.
“The property has been the center … of controversy in our community since 2016,” Alderman James Gardiner (45th) told the committee. “(The proposed RS-3) will help ensure the development of single-family homes and two-flats.”
A large-scale development would have “real consequences” for a neighborhood “filled with single-family homes and two-flats,” Gardiner said in reference to the density and traffic concerns which some residents have expressed about the 48-unit project.
Gardiner filed the downzoning ordinance after it was requested by the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, which opposed the 2016 rezoning that former alderman John Arena supported. No opposition to Gardiner’s ordinance, which is expected to be approved by the full council, was raised at the hearing.
The parcel, which was once used to store Cowhey Materials and Fuel Co. cement-mixing trucks, is located across from the Jefferson Park Metra Station parking lot at 5020 N. Northwest Hwy. To the north and east of the vacant parcel, the neighborhood consists predominantly of houses and two and three-flats, while larger residential buildings are located to the west along Northwest Highway.
At a community meeting about 6 years ago, the developer threatened that the property would remain vacant if he didn’t get the required RM-5 zoning to build the four-story apartment complex. About 15 years ago single-family homes were planned for the site, but that project also was not constructed.
The site’s RM-5 zoning was approved as a “Type 1” zoning amendment, meaning that a zoning change would be required if a new owner wanted to build anything other than the 48 apartments, which would have to be split into two 24-unit buildings, as specified in the amendment.
Another former Cowhey parcel, located at 4849 N. Lipps Ave., was rezoned for the Mega Group in 2017 for a 16-story, 114-unit building with a 200-space parking garage, but it has not been constructed. The parcel has been used as a makeshift parking lot for years.
Also at the committee’s meeting, a hearing on a proposal to rezone the 110-space city parking lot at 4050 N. Laporte Ave. was deferred.
The city is looking to sell the underutilized parking lot for a potential residential development, but the Six Corners Chamber of Commerce and some local commercial property owners have voiced concerns about the city’s plan. The chamber has called for a delay in the rezoning, arguing that parking needs in the area could increase due to nearby redevelopment projects.