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Wicker Park Project for Milwaukee Ave. Saves 119-Year-Old Building

By Alisa Hauser | March 7, 2014 12:05pm | Updated on March 7, 2014 12:32pm
 A stretch of buildings, parking lot and a car wash are part of a 7-lot development spanning 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.
A stretch of buildings, parking lot and a car wash are part of a 7-lot development spanning 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — An ambitious plan to build a 51-unit apartment building on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue just north of Wicker Park's main hub has been scaled down by a developer, who plans to offer fewer apartments and preserve a vintage building which will be converted into shared office space.

"The neighborhood told us what they thought and we respect that," said Brian Goldberg, a partner with LG Development Group at the Wicker Park Committee's monthly meeting on Wednesday.

Members of the group voted 18 to 3 to support the zoning changes needed to build a five-story, 36-unit apartment building at 1647-57 N. Milwaukee Ave, as well as preserve a vintage office building at 1643-45  N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park.

 Developer Brian Goldberg from LG Development is seeking a zoning change that would allow his firm to build a new residential and retail development spanning seven lots from 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. 
Updated Plans for 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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Goldberg's previous plan to demolish the 119-year-old office building did not bode well with the group, who voted against the proposal in December.

The project, which spans seven city lots, includes 1655-57 N. Milwaukee, currently a Wash Express Car Wash, a parking lot at 1651-53 N. Milwaukee Ave., a one-story building at 1647 N. Milwaukee Ave. that has been vacant since Mado Restaurant shuttered in 2010, and the office building at 1643-45 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Currently the lots are zoned for M1-2 for manufacturing use, so LG Development is seeking a B3-3 zoning change to construct a new five-story apartment building at 1647-57 N. Milwaukee Ave. which would replace the car wash, parking lot and former Mado restaurant.

The developers are also requesting B3-5 zoning for the preservation of the office building, where they plan to remodel the building's ground floor  to "make it appealing for retail tenants," said Gabe Leahu, a project manager with LG Development.

Leahu said they plan to sandblast the building's exterior and "match the mismatched brick."

The goal is to "try to make it look like it was intended to when it was built," Goldberg added.

The second through fourth floors of the building will be for flexible or shared office space, Goldberg said.

"We are looking to do flexible office space where desks can be rented by the month and we are talking with Industrious, a River North shared office space, to learn more about the concept," Goldberg said.

Located next to the office building, the new apartment building, to be designed by Antunovich Associates, would offer 36 apartments and 11 parking spaces.

The development is located within 600 feet of the CTA Damn Blue Line "L" station, so LG Development would like it to be considered a "Transit-Oriented Development," which relieves them from having to provide one parking space for each rental unit.

The proposed residential mix would be 7 studio apartments, 21 one-bedrooms and 8 two-bedrooms.

"We want to make this a great modern addition to the neighborhood," Goldberg said of the apartment building, which would have 7,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. 

After the meeting, Teddy Varndell, a member of the Wicker Park Committee called the plan "an improvement" over the prior proposal.

"They did save the building and they could have torn it down. It was a small victory for the community group. They came in for demolishing the building and, in the spirit of compromise, [the project] is not the worst thing and it saves the building," Varndell said.

The properties are in Ald. Bob Fioretti's (2nd) ward.

On Friday, Fioretti lauded the developers for changing their proposal. 

"I think they heard loud and clear [from the neighborhood group]. I appreciate developers that listen to the community. We felt the same way the community did on saving that building.  We plan to give our support to the zoning changes," Fioretti said.