The 189-unit proposal envisions three forms of housing — apartments, condos and townhomes. The development would be connected by a serpentine-shaped pedestrian-friendly pathway.
But first, Centrum Partners’ development, which was downscaled from a previous plan that had 275 apartments, needs to get approval from a neighborhood group, the Wicker Park Committee. That group is set to vote on the plan in January. Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) is planning a community meeting to gain more input.
The massive 77,500-square-foot project, dubbed the “Wicker Park Connection,” would create a maze of homes over 2 acres of vacant land between the 1600 block of Division Street and the 1200 block of North Milwaukee Avenue.
Thirty percent of the site would incorporate open space. Kate Martin of Forum Studio, a design architect, previously presented examples of sculptures and planters that would also double as seating and a water feature, such as a pop-up jet fountain.
The goal of the open space would be to further the area as a safe gathering spot, with security and accent lighting. Currently, many residents walk to and from Milwaukee and Division by using the vacant land as a shortcut, but it is not very populated.
The proposed 189-units, comprised of three structures designed by architect Howard Hirsch, would entail a 15-story tower with 131 apartments, 19 townhomes, and a 7-story, 39-unit condo building.
The apartment tower would be 11-stories on the Division-facing side of the building and offer an additional 4-stories setback from the street.
There would be 40 car parking spaces for the 19 townhomes; 36 spots for the 39 condos; and 51 parking spots allocated to renters in the 131 apartments, which would be considered a Transit-Oriented development, a few hundred feet from the CTA Division Blue Line “L” station.
First introduced in August, the ambitious project had 275-units and drew a mostly favorable response from locals, but it was strictly offering apartments and no other types of dwellings.
In August, several DNAinfo Chicago readers expressed concerns on Neighborhood Square over too much density and lack of family-friendly dwellings.
“Would love to see something a little more in character with the neighborhood and a bit smaller,” said a reader who lives close to the proposed project, while another wondered where all of the renters would come from.
“Are there that many young people looking to live in these areas? Small units are not intended for families or older couples. Just not sure I see the demand,” the reader said, predicting “we will be left with excess supply in just a few years.”
Our Urban Times reported on Wednesday that the addition of family-friendly townhomes was well-received by the members of the Wicker Park Committee’s Preservation and Development Committee at their monthly meeting on Tuesday in the park field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave., where Centrum’s latest design tweaks were informally shared with no formal vote.
“The new mix of three-bedroom townhouses and condominiums will allow newly established and growing families to stay in the neighborhood verses retreating to the suburbs,” James Clough, a local parent, told Our Urban Times.
John McLinden, a Centrum Partners president, said on Thursday that 10 percent, or 19 of the 131 apartments onsite, would be affordable units, as required by the city’sAffordable Requirements Ordinance, which mandates that certain new buildings over 20 units either allocate 10 percent of their units as affordable housing or pay $100,000 per unit to a city-managed trust fund that helps to develop low-income housing elsewhere.
In other Centrum news, a six-story, 60-unit apartment building at 1660 W. Division St., just west of Ashland Ave. and a neighboring development to the “Wicker Park Connection,” is already underway. Construction on that began earlier this month following the demolition of a 103-year-old storefront.
Centrum also plans to begin work on a 95-unit apartment building anchored by an Aldi at 1767 N. Milwaukee Ave. in January. Almost a year in the making, that estimated $37-million project would take all of next year to complete and the existing Aldi will be closed through the end of 2016.
Centrum Partners also recently sold off the retail portion of the Wicker Commons to a German investment firm for what some sources say was as much as $95 million. Until recently, the mall was anchored by a Kmart, which will be replaced by a Lowe’s at 1360 N. Ashland Ave. this spring.
An aerial view of the site plan for the Wicker Park Connection [Centrum Partners LLC/Hirsch Associates]