Irving-Central car lot in Portage Park for sale; Alderman Sposato seeks rezoning to give community more input on its redevelopment
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) is seeking to rezone a former car lot at the southeast corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue to give the community more input on its potential redevelopment now that the property is for sale.
“I don’t want something to go in there … without the say of the community,” Sposato said.
The proposal calls for the Portage Park parcel on Irving to be rezoned from C2-1, which allows for outdoor storage, liquor stores and several vehicle-oriented uses, to B1-1, which is intended for less intensive retail and office uses. Under either classification, a zoning change likely would be needed for residential units since dash-one zoning is designed for low-density development.
The 35,524-square-foot parcel, which currently is unoccupied, is for sale for $2.85 million, and several bids have been submitted, according to MBRE, the real estate company listing the property.
Over the years the lot has been used to store vehicles for several dealerships, and in 2017 the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a controversial plan to build a Starbucks with a drive-through facility there, but it was never built.
Sposato said that it is not clear why Starbucks pulled out of the site’s redevelopment but that he suspects the company got cold feet due to community opposition. Some residents argued that a Starbucks would hurt local independent coffee shops and worsen the traffic problems at the already busy intersection.
Sposato said that several prospective buyers for the site have approached him about building a car wash, which is permitted under C2-1. “(Some residents) did not want a Starbucks to go there so I’m guessing they do not want a car wash,” Sposato said.
The parcel, whose address is 5553-57 W. Irving Park Road, is located across from Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave.
On a side note, in 2020 Sposato tried to downzone the site of a planned 48-unit affordable housing development at Lawrence and Austin avenues in Jefferson Park, but his proposed ordinance did not make it out of committee. A few years earlier he had upzoned the property for a townhouse project that was never built, and he later said that he should have rezoned the site back to its previous zoning so the community would have more input into its redevelopment. The 48 apartments are now under construction.
(photo by William Swanson)