East Village Assn. Board asks developer to build to long term community need not current demand…he replies…community answers


Rendering shows the proposed 1515-17 N. Haddon building

With the intent to build a Transit Oriented Development (TOD)* at 1515-17 N. Haddon, Mark Sutherland presented plans for a six-story building with 45 units to the East Village Association's (EVA) Board on Nov. 11. Based on feedback, Sutherland changed the plans and on Mon., Dec. 3, EVA members voted on the project at their meeting in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. 

At the Nov. 11 meeting, Sutherland, in support of his proposal, presented real estate data about the current need for studios and one-bedroom apartments in and out of Chicago. 

Sutherland's proposal for the two-lot project was 45 units: (8) Studios; (24) One Bedrooms; (8) Two Bedrooms and 1 Bath; (4) Two Bedrooms, 2 Baths; and (1) 6th Floor Residence. They ranged in size from 1,032 sq. ft. to 525 sq. ft. 

Neal McKnight, EVA's President, summed up concerns expressed about the presented configurations. Residents are interested in planning for the area's future when looking at development, not in having projects built to meet today's market demands, he said.

As a counter-point to Sutherland's figures, McKnight referred to a current Chicago Tribune editorial. It stated that the desired changes include families not leaving the City. 

McKnight said, "As citizens it is our duty to look over the horizon not at current demand." He pointed out that the unit mix was aimed at transitory tenants, with the exception of the 3,620 sq. ft. residence at the top of the building. 

Then he asked Sutherland what he could do to encourage more people to stay in the neighborhood longer. "Instead of meeting what your perceived demand is today, what can you do in a planned development to encourage more people to stay here longer?" 

This challenge is in line with EVA taking a proactive look toward community development versus having a community littered with spot zoning. The Chicago Grand Neighbors Association (CGNA) is also working on addressing spot zoning proactively. 

In particular, many East Village residents are concerned about the erosion of units sized for families. They see that the reduction of multiple bedroom units are changing the character of the neighborhood. 

Questioned about affordable units being part of the TOD, Sutherland said that there would be such units, but it was not clear as to the count. 

There was also objection by some to having a large single residence as the only living unit on the 6th floor. Sutherland said he plans that unit to be his family's home. The ground floor is to be commercial space, which Sutherland plans to use for his business office. 


Floor plan shows layout for the four residential multi-unit floors

Following the Nov. 11 meeting, Sutherland changed the proposed residential unit count to 41. Each floor will consist of (1) Studio (564 sq. ft.); (6) One Bedrooms (651 to 654 sq. ft.); (1) Three Bedrooms and Two Baths (1220 sq. ft.); (1) Two Bedrooms and Two Baths (1185 sq. ft.); and (1)Two Bedrooms and One Bath (916 sq. ft.). 


Mark Sutherland and David Brininstool respond to audience questions

At the Dec. 3 meeting, architect David Brininstool + Lynch, went over the multi-unit floor plan as well as the materials to be used on the building's exterior.  Pressed cement will be used on the base and metallic shingles will be used on the upper part of the building. He explained that weathering will turn the shingles white, as seen "on a lot of churches." 

They also explained that the parking lot will be open and well lit and that the building height will be closer to 71 than the 73 feet height they presented in November.

A primary concern of the 30 some attendees at the meeting was parking and parking permits. A neighbor to the project, Dinish Jotwani, explained that parking is already a problem on the street and asked whether residents will be able to get parking permits. 

Sutherland agreed to include an agreement, as was done on Rob Buono's Ashland and Division building (1611 W. Division), to exclude the address from the city's list of eligible addresses for permits. He pointed out that being a TOD, the concept is to attract people who choose to be car-less. 

The project is uniquely located with only approximately 32 feet of the building facing Haddon Ave. Currently 1515 is zoned B1-3 and 1517 is zoned RS-3. Sutherland is requesting a zoning change of the RS-3 to B1-3. Under a TOD, zoning restrictions are changed in consideration of the development following certain guidelines that encourage residents to be transit oriented versus car oriented. Changes include having 50% less parking spaces. This project will include 21 spaces.

Named the Wicker Park Lofts, the project will also have more than a one-to-one ratio of bike racks and is planning to have some of their parking spaces for shared cars such as IGO. He will be leasing the spaces to tenants on a first-come, first-served basis.

He estimates that the apartment rentals will be: studios from $1200-$1300; 1-Bedrooms from $1400-$1600; 2-Bedrooms from $2100-$2700; and 3-Bedrooms from $3000-$3300. 

Sutherland is in the final phase of hiring a LEED consultant and is confident that he will be able to obtain Silver certification. 

The EVA vote was 14 to 0 to "not oppose" a zoning change. In other words, the community approved the project.

Sutherland is a Wicker Park resident who owns 21 buildings in the area. They are a mix of vintage and new properties. 

*According to the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), “Transit-oriented development, or TOD, is a type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail and/or other commercial development and amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of quality public transportation.”  

The TOD ordinance, recently revised, can be used by developers if they have a project within 600 feet of a transit station or 1,200 feet from a transit station when the building is located along a pedestrian street or a pedestrian retail street. They can get parking requirement reduced by 50 to 100% as well as the Floor to Area (FAR) and number of dwelling unit requirements changed.




Authorities should care for

Authorities should care for long term need rather than any temporary need that gives some pennies. You need to go deep to grasp the current demand of people.

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