CITY HALL — An empty lot on Melrose Street that became a "terrible haven for rodents" after a planned condo project failed there could soon be developed.
The city's Plan Commission approved a plan for a nine-story apartment building at 434 W. Melrose Ave. Thursday, and owner Chris Topps said he hopes to start construction by next spring.
The construction site has been a sore thumb for Belmont Harbor Neighbors for the last five years, becoming a "terrible haven for rodents and discarded furniture," complained neighbors. Ald. Tom Tunney's (44th) office has been in building court with Topps and his family over the last year to clean it up.
The new building plan is a "neo-classical French" design with limestone, brick and wrought-iron, said architect Bill Kokalias of Axios Architects. The apartment building will be 118 feet tall, with 23 units and 26 covered parking spaces. It will have balconies in the rear.
Rent will average between $3,000 and $5,000 a month, an amount so high it received snickers in the City Council chambers.
"That's some of our mortgage payments," one commissioner remarked with a laugh.
Topps still must apply for proper building permits and be approved by the full City Council, but the hurdle of the Plan Commission is over.
Tunney said he and the neighborhood supported the plan and are eager for the team to start.
As Topps and his team began to leave, Tunney quipped that he wanted them to "start tomorrow."
"We’re ready to go," he told the commission. "Hopefully they are."