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Six-story apartment project could replace long-time Old Town nursery

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Plans are in the works to redevelop the prominent Wells Street parcel

1553-1555 N. Wells Street.
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A new six-story, 23-unit residential building with ground-floor retail may soon replace the Old Town Gardens at 1553-1555 N. Wells Street. Slotted between two older three-story buildings, the undeveloped site has been seasonally occupied by the family-owned plant nursery since 1991.

Its potential replacement has so far flown under the radar, appearing only recently on this month’s agenda of the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Requested variances include a reduction in rear setback, the removal of a required loading berth, and a reduction in on-site parking from 23 to eight spaces.

The project is otherwise consistent with the site’s underlying zoning and has bypassed the city’s rather public zoning change process. As a result, no renderings of the proposed Wells Street project have yet surfaced.

According to the ZBA agenda, the project comes from 1553 N. Wells LLC—an entity that is registered to the same address as JAB Real Estate. The Chicago-based developer is behind the recently-opened six-story rental development at nearby 233 W. North Avenue. Public records indicate that the LLC purchased the property in September for $3.6 million.

While Old Town’s Wells Street Corridor has long been associated with quaint, older buildings, a handful of recent projects have started to challenge the status quo. New developments include a 50-unit apartment building at 1435-1443 N. Wells, a 60-unit rental project at 1325 N. Wells, and an upcoming 13-story boutique hotel slated to replace O’Brien’s Restaurant at 1528 N. Wells.