High-end senior living with array of amenities planned for Six Corners, with rents starting at $4,400 a month
by BRIAN NADIG
Reaction to a proposed 10-story, 265-unit senior housing and retail complex at 4747 W. Irving Park Road was mixed at a June 21 community meeting hosted by Alderman John Arena (45th).
About 225 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Filament Theater, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave.
One audience member expressed concern that the proposal would be precedent-setting, leading to similar buildings on other parcels. The Six Corners Master Plan calls for a four- and five-story development on the site.
Arena said that the triangular-shape of the parcel, which is at the southeast corner of Irving Park Road and Milwaukee Avenue, makes it difficult to develop, and he ruled out future 10-story buildings on other nearby large development parcels at Six Corners.
In a recent Facebook post, Arena wrote the following: “The (senior housing proposal) proposal is a total of 10 stories at the corner, stepping down to one story about halfway south on the Milwaukee Avenue leg. The breakdown at the corner is one floor retail, one floor parking, one residential services floor and seven residential floors.
“The master plan suggests four-five stories at the corner stepping drown to three stories along Milwaukee. The proposal groups that density at the corner which makes the building more efficient while netting about the same density that the plan envisioned.”
Last year the site’s developer, Clark Street Real Estate, let lapse a construction permit, which would have allowed a one-story retail center with rooftop parking on the parcel. An aide to Arena has said that part of the difficulty in redeveloping the site is that the developer may have overpaid for the parcel.
At the meeting, Arena said that the previous one-story retail plan for the site “violated the master plan in 10 different ways” and that he feels the revised plan does a better job of adhering to the master plan.
The project would feature a landscaped pedestrian walkway with an entrance on Irving Park Road which would lead to a 16-foot-wide public plaza which would connect to Milwaukee Avenue. There also would be two smaller mid-block passageways on Milwaukee.
There would be opportunities for artwork and outdoor seating in the walkways, and the storefront windows would face portions of the walkways, according to project officials.
Plans for the redevelopment of the site, where a bank was demolished in 2016, have changed several times in the past few years.
Under the current proposal, Clark Street is teaming up with Ryan Companies to build a senior housing project with 141 assisted living units, 38 memory care units and 86 independent living units, with no skilled nursing care offered.
It also would include 50,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, including an Aldi grocery store. The 2016 plan called for no residential space and 100,000 square feet of storefront space.
Clark Street owner Peter Eisenberg said that all of the retail would be located along Milwaukee Avenue in an effort to generate foot traffic for other nearby businesses on that street.
Some residents raised concerns that a predominantly assisted living complex would not generate enough new shoppers for the Six Corners business district. One resident said that the development would make Six Corners less desirable to young families and professionals.
Ryan vice president Dan Walsh said that the project would include “active” seniors who would have a significant impact on the area’s economy and that an economic impact study would be conducted.
“Just because someone is old and retired, it doesn’t mean we don’t go out,” one resident said.
Arena said that the complex would be just “one piece of the pie”in revitalizing the business district.
A residential building, possibly with hundreds of apartments, reportedly is being considered for the redevelopment of the Sears site at 4730 W. Irving Park Road. In addition, the 6-acre Peoples Gas site at 3955 N. Kilpatrick Ave. could be redeveloped in a few years, as the facility is relocating to Peterson Avenue and Pulaski Road.
“We’re trying to figure out what Six Corners will be for the next couple of generations,” Arena said.
The senior housing proposal would include a cafeteria for the estimated 120 daily workers and in-house dining options for the residents living there.
There also would be 237 parking spaces which would serve the Clarendale-operated senior building and the site’s ground-floor retail tenants. Access to the parking would be from Kilpatrick Avenue which runs along the eastern boundary of the site.
In response to parking concerns, project officials said that a lot of the tenants would not have cars, and a shuttle service will be available for tenants.
Walsh said that the “upscale”senior complex would be similar to a “cruise ship on land” due to a wide array of amenities, including an outdoor terrace, a library, outings to places in the community and a club room. He said that there are few senior living options within a 10- to 12 minute drive of Six Corners and that many seniors are looking forward to staying in the community when they retire.
“Seniors want to stay in the community. They have a network of friends,” Walsh said.
Monthly rents would be $4,400 for the independent units, $6,000 for the assisted living units and $7,200 for the memory care units. One to three meals would be included, and a shuttle serve would be available for the tenants, Walsh said.
One resident said that she found the projected rents “appalling” and not affordable, while another called for the project to provide for more affordable units, which a project official said was not under consideration.
Ryan Companies plans to provide nine off-site affordable housing units for seniors in the community in accordance with the city’s affordable requirements ordinance. Affordable units must be offered at below-market rate rents and are intended for those households earning about 60 percent of the area’s median income.
Developers who do not want to build the required units either on-site or part of another project in the area can also buy out of the requirement by paying into the city’s housing fund, but Arena does not allow buyouts.
Rents for the off-site units would be about $800 and would not include all of the amenities provided in a typical Clarendale building, Walsh said.
The city is looking into what type of amenities would have to be provided for the off-site units, and the convent at Saint Cornelius Church, 5430 W. Foster Ave., where a senior living proposal a few years ago failed to materialize, has been considered for those units, Arena said.
Arena added that he will push for more affordable housing in the other large residential developments which could be coming to Six Corners.
Project officials said that while the project is on the high end of senior living, costs studies indicate that the demand for these type of units in the area is 500, almost double of what the project would provide.
“Is Clarendale for everyone? No, it’s not,” Walsh said.
The building would generate close to $17 million in property taxes over 10 years, Walsh said.
Plans call for the Aldi to open late next year, while the senior housing would take longer to construct, Walsh said. In addition, a dedicated bike lane on Milwaukee along the curb would be removed.
A woman expressed concern that the business district has a “glut” of businesses such as cell phone stores. “Are you going to hold these (storefronts) for more exciting things, restaurants?” she said.
Eisenberg said that he is confident that the project’s retail team can attract businesses which would add vitality to the commercial area.
“We’re a $120 million catalyst for attracting additional (stores and development),” Walsh said.
Another woman said that a lot of younger families in the neighborhood are looking for some high-end retailers in the area.
Also at the meeting, Eisenberg apologized for the condition of the development site, which has remained a large hole where water collects since the bank was demolished there. He added that he would have built the one-story retail center if the retail market had not taken a downturn.
“I feel like you did a bait and switch,” one man said.
The Six Corners Chamber of Commerce plans to discuss the proposal at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, at the Las Tablas Steak House, 4920 W. Irving Park Road.