Wicker Park Committee membership gives support to one of two developers


WPC President shows the new WPC Tee-shirt now available for sale as Ed Tamminga waits to present developers

Two developer presentations led off the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) monthly meeting. A membership vote supported LG Construction & Development's project at 1237 to 1253 N. Milwaukee Ave., pending the Preservation and Development Committee's (P&D) final approval. But they voted to not support Centrum Partners' proposed project at 1660 W. Division St. 


LG's proposed project, 1237-53 N. Milwaukee Ave.

LG project
The LG project, 1237 to 1253 N. Milwaukee Ave., was introduced first by Ed Tamminga, P&D Chair. He explained that P&D has been working with LG since last year "to get a good face on the Bank of America space. It is important to get that key corner right." It is the gateway to Wicker Park and faces the Polish Triangle. 


Jonathan Splitt

When LG purchased the property, it included a long-term obligation on a lease with Bank of America that has so many restrictions that they had to literally design around the first floor corner space. As Tamminga put it, "They have been able to put a skin around it and incorporate it into the total design. 

"P&D recommends support of this project, though we have some details to work out with them, so if approved by the membership it is conditional on P&D review over the next few weeks." The membership did approve it in a vote of 15 to 2*, according to Sarah Lyons, WPC Secretary. 

Project architect, Jonathan Splitt explained that their request is for a zoning change from R3-3 to R3-5. It is a mix of a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and a Planned Development (PD), that has the tallest part of the building at 7 stories. But, the height at 77' 11" is under the 80' allowed for a PD. 

He pointed out that this design has two positive visual factors. One is that the current data lines of the first, second and third floors are in line with the three-story buildings up and down the street. The second is that the "wrapping" the corner pulls the eye into the first floor businesses. In addition to the bank, there will be up to four other businesses at ground level. 

The one-step bump to 3-5 is to allow for a better mix of units. Their plan is for 58 units of studios to 3-bedrooms with 10% of the units falling under the City's affordable housing requirement, said Splitt. A rental building, prices are expected to be between $1,200 and $3,000 per month.


Centrum's proposed 1660 W. Division St.

Features of the property include perforated steel panels in front of the balconies so items on the balconies will not be visible from the street, space in the building's basement for two spaces per unit, refuse enclosed in the building, two truck loading areas accessible from the back alley. There is no parking requirement for residential. They are planning to work with the City on being an Energy Star green building. 


Map of the Division St. site

Centrum Partners project
Owners of the former Wieboldt's Milwaukee Ave. building, where they are undergoing major reconstruction, and the entire Jewel and Kmart shopping mall complex, Centrum Partners is proposing a two-step zoning change from B3-2 to B-5 at 1660 W. Division St.. Their preliminary drawings show a 7-story, 77-unit building with approximately 12,000 square feet of first floor retail and 39 underground parking spaces. 


John McLinden

When they presented their proposal to P&D in June, the committee did not support it. "The request is essentially a request to double the floor area and height," explained Paul Dickman, a P&D member. P&D said, “Based on scale and density, the proposed B3-5 zoning is not supported and the existing B3-2 zoning is recommended.” Despite that opinion and with no support from 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, according to his Chief of Staff Raymond Valadez, Centrum has moved forward on a zoning application. 

At the meeting John McLinden presented the project comparing it to the LG project, in size, design, height and use. He also spoke about the area and how the project will strengthen the economy. Referring to SSA #33's Master Plan, he said that being within the first block of the intersection, their proposed density was in keeping with the Master Plan


Neighbor north of the proposed building

John Paige, a City Planner who is a SSA Commissioner and member of P&D, said that he felt this was a good plan as did Steve Lipe. Lipe is a developer in the area who has property on Division east of Ashland, which is planned to be a TOD project. 

Others did not agree with the density and height. One person pointed out that the residential buildings north of Division will "never see the light of day again." Another person said that their driveway would be going into his kitchen and pointed out that the alley is already heavily used all day with deliveries. 


Steve Lipe

Tamminga pointed out that the details of the building would be addressed at a later time because if the project goes forward they would most likely be back to P&D. When asked when they plan to construct the building, McLinden said they had no dates planned for construction. 

Membership voted 6 to support and 11* to not support. 

The rest of the meeting was devoted to Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's (CMAP) Senior Planner, Lindsay Bayley's presentation about the parking management project they did for SSA #33.

*Final vote came in after publication: LG: Supported by 16 and opposed by 3; Centrum supported by 6 and opposed by 13.



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