Sposato supports apartments on Austin
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) plans to support a zoning proposal to build nine apartments at 4420 N. Austin Ave. based on the feedback that he received at an Aug. 12 community meeting.
Only one of the approximately 15 households represented at the meeting voiced opposition to the proposal, Sposato said. The meeting was held at the Dunham Park fieldhouse, 4638 N. Melvina Ave.
Zitella Development is proposing to build a three -story building (see rendering on Page 3) on a 4,660-square-foot parcel that was once used as an auxiliary parking lot for the former Byline Bank at the northwest corner of Austin and Montrose avenues. An alley separates the parking lot from the larger corner parcel to the south where the vacant bank building stands.
Each apartment would measure about 1,400 square feet and include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a balcony and a washer and dryer, with a projected monthly rent between $2,200 and $2,400, Sposato said. Nine parking spaces are planned.
"Full disclosure, I asked Zitella to look at the property. He develops a nice building, and I’d also like to have him develop the corner. It looks like an eyesore," Sposato said.
In 2018 opposition stopped a plan to build a 7-Eleven convenience store and a gas station at the corner. That project would have included use of the parking lot on Austin.
The owner of a Shell gas station at 5959 W. Montrose Ave. later purchased the site to prevent another gas station from opening at the intersection, and a restrictive covenant attached to the property’s deed prohibits the opening of another bank where Byline once operated, Sposato said.
The total asking price for the corner lot and the auxiliary lot was $1.5 million, Sposato said. He added that he does not know how much Zitella is paying just for the lot on Austin but that it likely makes constructing a single-family home there not economically feasible. The majority of the block is single-family homes.
The proposals call for the Austin lot to be rezoned from RS-2, which is intended primarily for single-family home, to B2-3.
In other news, Sposato recently met with a group of homeowners who live near the planned development site of a four-story, 48-unit affordable housing complex at 6001-11 W. Lawrence Ave. A zoning change is not required for the project, and the Illinois Housing Development Authority approved low-income housing tax credits for the development.
Sposato said that the residents expressed a variety of concerns about the project, including that the planned 34 parking spaces were not sufficient. "If it were 32 units or 36 units … and 40 parking spaces, I’d have no problem with it," he said.
In 2016 the property was rezoned to RT-4 for a 24-unit townhouse project that never materialized, but Sposato left the RT-4 zoning alone despite the fact that it allowed for a much larger development. "Right at the beginning, I told residents I screwed up," Sposato said.
Sposato recently filed an ordinance to downzone the site to RS-2, setting up a potential lawsuit if the City Council approves the ordinance.