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Alderman scuttles proposed 14-story development along North Avenue

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Ald. Brian Hopkins said he will not support the project’s request for a zoning change

FitzGerald Associates Architects

A plan to redevelop an Old Town retail strip into a new mixed-use high-rise has failed to win over 2nd Ward Chicago Alderman Brian Hopkins. Officially revealed back in December, the proposal called for replacing the Father & Son Plaza at 609-657 W. North Avenue with a 14-story building containing up to 365 rental units, 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and parking for 188 cars and 188 bicycles.

Based on a letter distributed to nearby residents, Hopkins stated that he could not support the transit-oriented project’s requested zoning change from B3-2 Community Shopping District to a considerably more dense B3-5 designation. The Alderman based his decision on parking, traffic, and density concerns from his constituents.

The proposal was met with significant community opposition with respect to the size and height, density, parking configuration, and potential increase in traffic along North Ave. and Larrabee St.

Following my community meeting, the developer and project team presented a revised proposal to local community groups. The new proposal lowered building height down to 12 stories, and reduced the number of apartment units to 348.

With the first round of revisions lacking community support, the developer made a final revision to further reduce the building to 10 stories, and the number of units to 293. See rendering below:

A rendering of the 10-story proposal.
Image courtesy of Chicago’s 2nd Ward

The 10-story compromise still failed satisfy local constituents and Hopkins announced that the site’s zoning would remain unchanged moving forward. While Crain’s previously reported that co-developers White Oak Realty Partners and CA Ventures had a contract to eventually buy the parcel, it is unclear if any deal will now go through.

It is also unclear if the property’s owners will come back to the City one more time with an even less ambitious plan to raze and replace the current strip mall. It would be possible to build something—perhaps in the five story range—“as-of-right” and within the scope of the site’s current zoning.

The Father & Son Plaza at 609-657 W. North Avenue.
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