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Sauganash to Get 35 High-End Homes as Former Rezko Project is Revived

By Heather Cherone | October 24, 2013 6:51am
  The original development fell apart amid the scandal that sent developer Tony Rezko in jail.
Plan for Single-Family Homes Revived for Sauganash
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SAUGANASH — A long-dormant plan to build 35 single-family homes in the heart of Sauganash on the site of a former hand-tool factory has risen from the dead.

The original plan, approved by city officials in 2004, fell apart amid the scandal that ultimately landed developer Tony Rezko in jail and languished as the 2008 housing crash and Great Recession brought most new home construction to a halt.

K. Hovnanian Homes plans to follow the plan laid out by Rezko’s Rezmar Development nearly a decade ago, with slight changes to the architecture of the homes, which are expected to sell for  $700,000 to $900,000, said Brian Murphy, vice president of operations.

Because the approvals are still in place, further action by city officials is not necessary. Construction is expected to start in the spring and take two years, Murphy said.

Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) said the original proposal for the 4½ acres at 4300 W. Peterson Ave. was a good plan that never came to fruition.

“With the support of the community, it will be a good addition,” Laurino said at a meeting Tuesday night at Sauganash Elementary School to discuss the new development.

The land, which was once home to the corporate headquarters of Walgreens and the home of Skil-Bosch Power Tools, has been weed-strewn and enclosed by a chain-link fence since 2006.

Kathleen A. O’Connor, whose mother lives adjacent to the planned neighborhood — dubbed the Residences at Sauganash Glen — said she was glad single-family homes were going to be built on the land.

“This is as good as it gets,” O’Connor said. “Nothing is ever perfect when it is in your backyard.”

Plans call for the homes to be 2½ stories tall, and all but five of the homes will have three-car garages. Buyers will be able to choose whether to add an elevator to their home, Murphy said.

As part of the development, K. Hovnanian Homes has proposed building a fifth entrance to the Sauganash Trail on land now controlled by ComEd.

Modeled on the entrances to the High Line in Manhattan, the entrance on the southwest corner of the planned neighborhood would have an 18-foot staircase in an empty lot adjacent to a new mural depicting the history of Sauganash.

Paula Fitzgerald, who was one of the organizers of the effort to build the mural, said she welcomed the effort to beautify the lot and create a mini-park with an entrance to the trail.

But she said she didn't like the proposed design of the staircase.

“We’ll form a committee to figure it out,” Fitzgerald said.

Murphy and other representatives of the developer fielded questions at the community meeting about the amount of traffic the new neighborhood is expected to bring to the area and already-busy Peterson Avenue.

The main entrance and exit to the community will be along an extended Kildare Avenue from Peterson Avenue, and left turns will be restricted from the two alleys planned for the east and west sides of the property, Murphy said.

Other concerns included the amount of stormwater runoff created by the new development as well as the effect the new homes would have on the value of existing homes.

“It’ll be nice to have something there,” said Carrie Morrissey, who attended the meeting with her husband, Bill. “It will be good for everyone not to have that property vacant any longer.”