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Developer Cuts Studios, Adds 3-Bedrooms to Apartments Near Division 'L'

By Alisa Hauser | December 3, 2013 11:39am
 Members of the East Village Association voted 14-0 in favor of supporting a zoning change that would pave the way for a six-story 41-unit apartment building at 1515-17 W. Haddon Ave.
1515-17 W. Haddon Ave. Apartments
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EAST VILLAGE — After a community group wanted to see more three-bedroom apartments to give options to families renting in the neighborhood, a developer has cut the planned number of studio apartments by half.

To assuage neighbors concerned about tight parking, the developer also said he would ask the city to deny neighborhood parking permits to residents of his building.

At a meeting Monday, members of the East Village Association voted unanimously 14-0 to "not oppose" developer Mark Sutherland's zoning change request, which would be the precursor to a planned development that would bring 41 apartments and 21 underground parking spaces to 1515-17 W. Haddon Ave.

Located near the CTA Blue Line Division Street "L" station in Wicker Park, some are calling the proposed project the "Haddon Alley" apartments because the bulk of the pie-shaped six-story building would be in an alley behind Milwaukee Avenue, with only 27 square feet of street frontage on Haddon to support the 11,000-square-foot development.

Sutherland's plan is to demolish a vacant warehouse building and a shabby two-flat apartment building near the alley that has attracted vagrants.

Designed by architectural firm Brininstool + Lynch, the building features a metallic exterior that, when weathered over time, would look like pewter, architect David Brininstool told about 30 people at the meeting held at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

The revised floor plan for the building features 40 apartments on the second through fifth floors. Each floor has 10 units: one studio apartment, two two-bedroom apartments, one three-bedroom apartment and six one-bedroom apartments.

The previous plan had two studio apartments on each floor, for a total of eight. The current plan has the same number of one-bedroom apartments —24 — as in the previous plan.

The sixth floor would be reserved for a single apartment that Sutherland said he planned to live in with his family, while the first floor would be an office for his real estate firm.

Though rents can change based on market conditions, Sutherland said that by the completion of the project, he anticipated rents would be around $1,200 to $1,300 for a studio with 564 square feet of space. One-bedroom units would be 654 square feet and rent between $1,400 and $1,600. 

Two-bedroom apartments would range between 916 and 1,185 square feet and rent for $2,100 to $2,700 monthly, while three bedrooms would be 1,220 square feet and rent for $3,000 to $3,300.

The addition of the three-bedroom units came after the close of a meeting earlier this month when Neal McKnight, president of the East Village Association, and other members of the group asked Sutherland to come back to them with a different proposal and "reconsider the unit mix."

Sutherland, who owns 21 apartment buildings in the area and operates a website, Wicker Park Apartments, said 52 percent of those making online requests on his website were searching for one-bedroom apartments, and 7 percent were looking for three-bedroom units.

The building would offer 21 underground parking spaces that would rent for $150 to $200 per month.

Since Haddon is a small side street, several residents told Sutherland it was already difficult to find parking there.

"That block is super short and between two major streets. Are you anticipating residents will get permit parking stickers?" asked Dinish Jotwani, who lives in the 1500 block of West Haddon Avenue. 

Sutherland said he'd be willing to have the building's address removed from eligibility for city parking permits, something that Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) has done for residents of Marshfield Avenue who were concerned that a new 99-unit apartment building at 1611 W. Division St. that offers no parking would cause an influx of cars on their street. 

For his part, Jotwani said that "aside from the parking" he thinks the project is "a positive" to the area.

"It will help spark some business on Milwaukee. It's an eyesore right now," Jotwani said, referring to the alley.

East Village resident Chris Long also expressed support for the project.

"We're not sprawled-out. There is a trade-off between making things nice for cars and making a nice dense urban environment into a desirable place to be," Long said.

Sutherland filed his application for a development on Nov. 11 and, if it is approved, he plans to begin building in spring or summer, with completion "sometime in 2015," he said.

For more information on the development, visit its website, Wicker Park Lofts.