LINCOLN PARK — A developer of a project that neighbors argue would change the face of Halsted Street said it could bring a large retailer into the neighborhood if its plans to build a tall apartment building are rejected.
Golub Real Estate Investment and Development representatives revealed three sets of plans, two of which would include five townhouses along with a six- or seven-story apartment building with retail shops on the first floor.
The developer's main proposal calls for demolishing Black Duck Tavern & Grill and building a six-story apartment building, but Golub also presented a plan that would save Black Duck in exchange for adding a seventh floor to the main building.
The plans also calls for five townhouses along Willow Street just west of Halsted that would be listed at between $2.5 million and $3 million each, said Michael Miller, a co-owner of the property.
A packed room of more than 100 people questioned Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), numerous representatives from Golub and the architect on topics such whether allowing such a tall building would set a precedent for future developers and whether it's worth saving historic buildings such as the Black Duck.
Lee Golub, principal and executive vice president for Golub, said that the developers met with Smith, and in exchange for saving the Vinci Restaurant building they agreed to higher density on the northwest corner of the intersection.
"There are always tradeoffs in all of this," Smith said.
Miller said he liked the Vinci building, but was not interested in saving the Black Duck, which was built in the 1880s.
"Personally, I think the Black Duck building is a common brick," he said. "It's just old. It's not particularly architecturally significant."
Those comments drew jeers from some in the crowd.
The Black Duck building has an "orange" designation according to city landmark standards, but Smith said that designation is "sort of like a little flag" that requires a 90-day waiting period before the building could be torn down. While it means the building has some architectural significance, Smith said such buildings get town down "all the time" in the neighborhood.
Miller said the land already has 144 apartments, and the new building would add less than 20 to the overall total on the property. The apartments would be one- and two-bedroom apartments, he said.
Whether the building ends up being six or seven stories, the project would include a two-story parking garage in the rear. The garage would feature a landscaped roof, and the cars would not be visible to neighbors, according to the developer.
The developer argued the project would "fit with the character of Lincoln Park," and that the height would not be out of place compared to nearby Steppenwolf Theater.
"It's a great opportunity to do something meaningful and architecturally significant in a neighborhood," project architect Michael Wilkinson said.
If Smith does not agree to change the zoning on the land to allow the apartment building, the developers could still build a two-story retail structure there. Those plans would include tearing down the Vinci building along with the Black Duck, King Crab and apartment units in between.
"It could potentially be a two story T.J. Maxx if that's what you're asking," Miller said. "It could potentially be that. It could be an office building."
Neighbors called that "blackmail."