Residents oppose Edison Park project in straw poll at 41st Ward meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
More than 90 percent of the 70 residents at the Nov. 10 meeting of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee voted against a proposal to build a 30-unit condominium building with a parking garage near the Edison Park Metra Station.
The outcome of the straw poll is not binding to the committee, which delayed its decision on the proposal until early next year. The committee’s decisions serve as a recommendation to Alderman Anthony Napolitano, who has always followed the committee’s recommendations.
Polling of audience members is not common practice at the committee’s meetings. Only three of the audience members who voted supported the project, and three abstained.
The straw poll was open only to Edison Park residents, which includes Napolitano, but he chose to remain neutral. “I’m not going to vote because it’s not what I want, it’s what you want,” he told the audience.
Committee member Frank Icuss, who also serves on the board of the Edison Park Community Council, said that he wants to make sure the “vocal group” of opponents is representative of the neighborhood. Icuss said that several residents voiced support for the proposal in private conversations with him after a recent community council meeting, where comments against the project were greeted with applause from audience members.
Icuss and advisory board chairman Mike Emerson have praised the project, which has been endorsed by the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce. Emerson has said that the size of the four-story building would be appropriate when compared to some of the multi-family and commercial buildings to the north on Olmsted Avenue.
A former car wash on the 36,000-square-foot parcel at 6649-55 N. Oliphant Ave. would be demolished to make way for the project. Parking would be on the first two floors, with residential units on the third and fourth floors.
Residents have raised concerns that the project would generate too much traffic and that its 48-foot-height would be too tall given the predominantly single-family nature of the neighborhood to the south. Others have expressed concern that the project would attract families with school-age children, worsening the overcrowded conditions at area schools.
In addition, several residents have sought assurances from project officials that the condominiums would not become rental units if sales of the units were to become slow. The asking price is estimated to range from about $350,000 to $550,000.
Project attorney Nicholas Ftikas said that a ban on leasing would have to be implemented by the condominium owners association, which would not be in place until the end of the project.
In response to a question from a resident, project developer Hubert Cioromski said that he is aware that existing condominiums in Edison Park are selling for under $300,000 but that he already has a half-dozen interested buyers. The units would range in size from 1,050 to 2,500 square feet, and each would include a tandem parking space that would be long enough to accommodate two vehicles.
About 95 additional parking spaces in the garage would be available as paid parking for commuters during the day, and valet companies for area restaurants would be able to lease space inside the garage at night. Currently these companies park about 70 vehicles outdoors on the site each evening, Cioromski said.
A driveway leading to the parking garage would be available from both Oliphant Avenue and Avondale Avenue. Left-turns from Oliphant to the site would be prohibited due to the proximity of a railroad crossing, according to project officials.
One resident said that there would be a “stream of valet traffic” on Avondale as a result of the project.
The Italian Renaissance style of the building has been mostly praised at community meetings, but some residents have said that the European-influenced design would be out of character with the community.
The advisory committee is expected to meet in December if plans are submitted in time for a zoning proposal in the O’Hare commercial corridor, Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio said. Committee members approved a motion to delay further deliberations on the Oliphant proposal until January.