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Lawrence Avenue in Lincoln Square Hoping to Add Some Hipness

By Patty Wetli | July 31, 2013 10:30am | Updated on July 31, 2013 12:09pm
 A rendering of the proposed apartment complex and adjacent Roots Pizza on Lawrence Avenue.
A rendering of the proposed apartment complex and adjacent Roots Pizza on Lawrence Avenue.
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John Steven Livaditis

LINCOLN SQUARE — Is Lawrence Avenue about to become the next hipster haven?

First, West Town's Roots Pizza announced plans to open a second location on Lawrence. Now, a developer teases that Bucktown's Lillie's Q could be eyeballing the thoroughfare for its barbecue operation.

At a community meeting held Tuesday night at Fountainhead, the main topic of discussion was a proposed zoning change for 2208 W. Lawrence Ave., where John Steven Livaditis has designs on building a mixed-use residential/commercial complex that would include 21 apartments and three to four small retail spaces.

Livaditis also owns the adjacent property at 2200 W. Lawrence Ave., future home of Roots, and talk strayed to potential tenants that could join the pizza maker at that address.

"This is very speculative right now," Livaditis cautioned. "We're still debating what to do with the second floor of Roots."

A Montessori school is looking at the space but Livaditis said he also might convert the second floor to residential — likely one-bedroom, loft-style apartments.

Lillie's Q has expressed interest in the first-floor space next to Roots, according to Livaditis, but he said he was "worried about smoke odors" if he opts for the residential route upstairs.

"I'm not sure we want barbecue," he said.

A Lillie's Q spokesman responded via email: "Charlie [McKenna, owner] talks to developers all over the city all the time about the expansion of Lillie’s Q and other projects. There is no deal in place for Lincoln Square or any other location right now. Lillie’s Q will expand at the right time and for the right deal."

Livaditis is more certain about plans for 2208 W. Lawrence Ave., currently a vacant lot.

Months of back-and-forth with Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) has led to a "dramatically trimmed" project, the developer said.

The original proposal called for 28 residential units, which has since been reduced to 21. The number of parking spaces has held steady at 25, which Livaditis said means there will be an abundance of room for cars.

Eighteen of the units will be two-bedroom/two-bathroom and the remainder will be one-bedroom units. Rents will range from $1,500 per month for one-bedroom apartments to $2,400 per month for the larger two-bedroom units. Finishings will be of a quality that the apartments could eventually be sold as condos, Livaditis said.

Setbacks have been created on the building's east and west sides to create light for neighboring structures, a green roof was incorporated to help manage water runoff, and street-level retail units were added at Pawar's request.

"I'm concerned about being able to rent spaces on Lawrence," Livaditis said. "The alderman insisted on having commercial space on Lawrence."

Pawar's zoning committee has already recommended the project for approval — the zoning change largely lifts height and street setback limitations on the proposed four-story building — and the alderman was inclined to agree given the community's support for the development, according to Ernie Constantino of the 47th Ward office.

"I'm all for it," said John Pappas, one of a handful of neighbors in attendance at the meeting. "There's not much there now. If that's what it takes to bring people to this community, I'm all for it."

Pappas, who runs an American Family Insurance office at Lawrence and Damen avenues, is a lifelong resident, having attended McPherson Elementary as a youngster.

"I can't wait til the neighborhood changes," he said.

Livaditis has roots in Lincoln Square as well, having grown up near St. Demetrios, 2727 N. Winona Ave.

"My dad had his first business in the neighborhood — a beauty shop at Lincoln and Foster," he said.

Pending City Council approval of the zoning change, likely in September, Livaditis expects to break ground in October and have units ready for rental by March 2014.

He'll also begin shopping for retail tenants as soon as he receives the go-ahead from Council.

"We'd love to do something there's demand for," he said.