WPC P&D gives thumbs down to 32-units at 1665 N. Milwaukee


To the right of the proposed 1665 N. Milwaukee building a wall implies another five-story building where a single story car wash resides

A request for support of a five-story 32-unit residential/retail project requiring a jump in zoning from a M1-2 to B3-5* at 1665 N. Milwaukee Ave. resulted in a thumbs down by the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development Committee, Tuesday night in the Wicker Park Field House, 1425 N. Damen Ave.

Proposed Project
A 2,258 sq. ft. retail space would be part of the 3,993 sq. ft. ground floor area which would also include three parking spaces, the electrical, mechanical, trash and mail areas. A hallway would run from close to the Milwaukee Ave. entrance to the back of the building with a vertical rack for 32 bikes along the wall. There would be one elevator and two stairways to provide access to the upper four floors. 


Vacant lot is 1665 N. Milwaukee. Building to right of car wash is the 1657-43 N. Milwaukee building

Designed by jonathan SPLITT architects ltd., the proposed eight units per floor on floors 2 through 5 range in size from 343 to 502 sq. ft., ranging in rental rates from $1,200 to $1,500 per month, according to Gabriel Leahu, Development Manager at LG Construction + Development. LG is partnering with Marc Realty Residential. 

Project Background
The rejection of the Tuesday night proposal was opposite their vote on the  original zoning request in March 2014. Property owners Marc Realty Residential, Laurence Weiner and Gerald Nudo, who acquired legal title to the property in June 2012, applied for a zoning change from M1-2 to B3-3.


Gabriel Leahu talks to P&D Committee

Based on their then application, an existing three-story masonry building was to remain and a partial fourth floor was to be added. The resulting building was to contain a retail space at grade and six residential condo dwelling units above. In addition, there were to be six interior garage spaces in the building, that would top out at 48 ft. 6 inches high. 

Considering the low density and the reuse of an existing building, WPC's P&D Committee agreed to the zoning plan with a Type 1 plan. Type 1 means that any change to an agreed to plan reverts the property back to its original zoning. Thus the zoning change from M1-2 to B3-3 that occurred in 2014 would be reversed back to M1-2. 

Building Teardown
Following the 2014 zoning change, building deterioration occurred. The owners said that they could not successfully market the six condo units. Exposed to the elements, the building deteriorated and was subsequently required to be torn down. 

Because the project was a Type 1, the project's zoning reverted back to the original M1-2 zoning. 


Starting at the redish building and going to the right are 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Current request
The issue of having only three parking spaces was brought up. Leahu said that LG's building 1643-57 N. Milwaukee has 10 parking spaces but none are leased at $200 per month. Committee members indicated that that did not mean that the renters did not have cars. Leahu said that tenants were asked that information on their leasing documents and that no one indicated that they had a car. 


The residential floor plan

He did agree that they would include notifying tenants that they would not be able to get parking permits on surrounding streets. 

More importantly for the WPB P&D Committee members was their concern about the hundreds of small apartments scheduled or in the process of being built, particularly along the Milwaukee Ave. corridor. They believe adding more density with micro sized units is not the responsible action for the area at this time. "It is a quantum leap to go from 6 to 32 units at a time when we do not know the impact high density will have on the community and City resources," said architect Ed Tamminga who chairs the P&D Committee. 

Located in the 2nd Ward, Alderman Hopkins held a public meeting on Aug. 19, 2016, to review the project. Despite the fact that an apartment rental firm's representative, whose clients include LG, stated that studio apartments were the first to be rented, residents did not show the same enthusiasm. They expressed their issues around too much density by a transient population. 

LG is to have their project reviewed by other community organizations before Alderman Hopkins makes his decision.

*Because this project is within 660 feet of the Damen L stop, they are permitted to have all units as efficiencies (studios). Without that proximity they would be limited to 30% studio units. 

Disclosure: this writer is a member of the WPC P&D Committee.



Conflict of interest

The story is a factual piece not one of opinion so not seeing how conflict of interest applies. Like most journalists, I work very hard to report on events in a factual versus opinion manner. My job is to inform. Development is important for our communities. I hope that all readers engage in understanding the facts about developments. They affect the health of our communities and how today's actions can affect the future. Being an active part of the community, I think, makes me a better reporter. And I assure you, when I am voicing my opinion, it is and will be labeled as such. Thanks for your comment.

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