Developer Plans Transit-Oriented Rentals Near Paulina Brown Line Stop

By Serena Dai on January 29, 2014 7:34am 

Slideshow
 Centrum Partners seeks to build a mixed-use, transit-oriented development at 3400 N. Lincoln Ave., a long-vacant lot near the Paulina Brown Line "L" stop.
3400 N. Lincoln Ave. Renderings
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LAKEVIEW — An empty lot by the Paulina Brown Line "L" stop may soon be home to an apartment and retail building — but little parking.

Centrum Partners, which has a contract to buy the site at 3400 N. Lincoln Ave., wants to build a transit-oriented mixed-used building, with about nine parking spots planned in initial drawings.

The "upscale" rental building with one- and two-bedroom apartments could house between 32 and 48 units, depending on whether it ends up being five, six or seven stories, said Graham Palmer, a partner at Centrum.

"The idea is to create an urban environment by the train station," Palmer said. "Essentially what you're doing is creating a hub of people who are going to shop in the neighborhood and eat at restaurants in the neighborhood rather than getting in their cars and going elsewhere."

The $10 million-$15 million project would also have sustainability features such as green roof and a recharging station for electric cars. About 6,000 square feet of retail space has not been marketed to renters yet, though it could potentially be home to a fast-casual restaurant or coffee-type shop, Palmer said.

Reaction among residents has been "mixed," said Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who has jurisdiction over the site's zoning requests under a new ward map. 

Developers are currently in the process of vetting initial designs with West Lakeview Neighbors, the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and Roscoe Village Neighbors.

Some are "really excited" that there's development at all in the long-vacant lot, Pawar said. Others are worried about the density of the project and the lack of parking, particularly since "parking is already tight over there," he said.

The alderman said it's too early in the community vetting process for him to say "yay or nay" to the project, but he does support developing a larger building the lot. A one or two-story building would be "inappropriate," he said.

"We're seeing a shift," Pawar said. "We're seeing a lot of people moving near transit so that they don't have to own a car. It's hard to wrap your head around it when there are already parking problems in the area."

Residential street parking should be approached as an existing issue separate from the development, Pawar said. For example, permit parking could be implemented if residents petitioned for it, he said. 

Centrum hopes to gain approval to start construction this summer, with plans for a summer 2015 opening. Pawar said the project will move forward after the office hears back from more neighborhood organizations.

He will then hold a community meeting on the development.

"You don't want to turn things upside down," Pawar said. "There's a way to [develop the lot] while being respectful to what's already there."

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