Centrum's Wicker Park Connection proposes three unit types


This rendering shows the Division St. entry between Phase I on the left and the proposed tower on the right

The Wicker Park Connection is a three phase Transit Oriented Devlopment (TOD) complex proposed by Centrum Partners LLC that will connect the 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave. block with the 1600 W. block of Division St. The more than 77,500 square foot site will be mixed use with three types of structures totally 189 dwelling units. 

With 30% of the parcel designed as open space with a green plaza and other features, one of the three phases is a mix of rental commercial and residential spaces in a 15/11-story tower structure. The other two are residential and for-sale units totaling 58 units. One is a seven-story condo and the third is a series of townhomes. 

The tower with 11 stories on the Division St. side, steps up to 15 stories on the north end of the building and will have 131 units ranging from convertibles to two-bedrooms.

The commercial space in the project will be in this building. At ground level there will be just under 5,000 square feet and on the second floor just under 1,500 square feet for retail. Also on the second floor there is another close to 11,000 square feet commercial space. At the moment, Centrum is working to bring a private school into that space.

There will be 39 units in the condo building. Two will be two-bedroom units. The remainder as well as the 19 townhomes will be three-bedroom units for-sale. Condo units are slightly smaller than the townhomes but each is on one floor level, have an elevator that goes directly to their individual unit and have one parking space, while the town homes are larger and have two or three parking spaces. 

Parking spaces for the townhomes will total 40; for condo units 36; and for the tower 51, totaling 127 for the entire complex.

Designed by Hirsch Associates LLC, the tower, with one side on Division St., is proposed to be located to the east of their six-story Phase I project under construction at 1660 W. Division St. The seven-story mid-rise is planned within the complex. The third phase is the for-sale townhomes on the north side of the parcel. 

By ordinance, this project will be subject to provide 10% of the total unit count as affordable housing. They will provide that on site.

As explained by both Hirsch and Associates' Howard Hirsch and designer David Genc, the site reconfiguration is allowing for not only more greenspace but also more light into an enlarged plaza. 

In the last four plus months Centrum has been in a creation phase, concerned with massing and site planning to determine the best configuration of this parcel. That process has included meetings with the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) Preservation and Development Committee (P&D) as well as 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno. 


Site Plan shows Phase I in Blue; Phase II Apts/Retail in Gold; Phase III Condos in Yellow; Phase IV townhomes in beige

"I think the review process with the P&D Committee is resulting in a better development for the community," commented Ed Tamminga, architect, who chairs the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) Preservation and Development Committee (P&D). 

"Thus far there have been four separate meetings with the Committee. The density is now acceptable. The addition of family friendly townhomes and larger condos responds to the Committee’s objective of creating housing units which encourage families with young children to stay in the neighborhood.  

"The likelihood of including a K-8 school in the project is a big plus. Overall, the project complies with an acceptable B3-3 zoning district with the exception of the height of the apartment building. A fifteen story residential tower will be controversial but I feel that the location of the tower is not inappropriate and it allows the development to provide more than 30% open space." 

"The former City parking lot, on which most of these phases are going, is an artifact of the Chicago Plan Commission meddling in Wicker Park's business over 60 years ago," explains P&D Committee member Paul Dickman. "As this project moves forward, hopefully we can bring some closure to that era. While I am not crazy about the trend that each tower needs to be taller than the last, the proposed project exhibits a robust mix of unit types, and re-establishes a connection between Milwaukee and Division with a greenway and plazas and could help drive the lackluster commercial areas to match the intensity of the North and Damen end of Milwaukee." 

A parent, a resident on Paulina near the proposed phases and a P&D Committee member, James Clough has some concerns. "My concerns are the possibility of increased traffic flow on Paulina St. and the ingress and egress from Paulina and Milwaukee where there is significant pedestrian, bike, car and bus traffic." 

On the other had, he said that he is pleased with Centrum's latest revisions. "The new mix of three-bedroom townhouses and condominiums will allow newly established and growing families to stay in the neighborhood verses retreating to the suburbs. 

"I also believe the lower density and additional greenspace will also be a plus for the development and others in the neighborhood. The connection between Milwaukee and Division street should help improve the retail and restaurant options on the south east end of Wicker Park," he concluded.  


This shows the interior space of the complex with some the the greenspace

Next Steps
"We have architectural and landscaping work to be done on our plans, now that we have solidified the issues of massing and our site plan," said John McLinden, Partner, Centrum, LLC. 

Their schedule is to make a formal presentation to WPC's P&D in December with the project being presented to the WPC membership in January. Some paper work will be put in motion with the City as well. 

There will be a community meeting set by 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno, before the project is signed off by the Alderman, confirmed Raymond Valdez, Moreno's Chief of Staff. 

McLinden is hopeful that the project will be underway by spring 2016.

Source for renderings: Hirsch Associates LLC



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