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Montrose Apartment Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews From Irving Park Neighbors

By Patty Wetli | April 10, 2014 9:34am
 A preliminary rendering of a 48-unit apartment building proposed for Montrose and Bernard avenues.
A preliminary rendering of a 48-unit apartment building proposed for Montrose and Bernard avenues.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

IRVING PARK — A 48-unit apartment building proposed for a vacant lot at Montrose and Bernard avenues drew mixed reactions from neighbors when presented at the April meeting of The Residents of Irving Park community group.

Speaking on behalf of the developer, HP Ventures Group, broker Dan Cvejic presented the project as "high-end rental," consisting of 42 two-bedroom units and six one-bedroom units that would lease for between $1,100 and $1,500 per month. One parking space would be provided for each unit.

Though the members of the community group said they would welcome the influx of newcomers, in particular their potential to support local businesses, the lack of specifics about the building itself worried some.

"I'm all for development in our neighborhood," said Douglas Pancoast, a member of the residents group's board. "I'm concerned if it was designed for 'economy,' that could result in poor construction and they won't be able to charge the rents they want."

Peeling paint and crumbling brick, hallmarks of cut corners, were among his concerns.

"In general, buildings last a lot longer than people," he said. "They continue to affect neighborhoods beyond their original design intent."

Pancoast, himself an architect, pushed for a future meeting with the development's architect in order to get a better sense of material choices and the value of the building.

Cvejic was amenable to the request.

"I understand your concern — you're going to be here for awhile," he said. "But right now you have a vacant spot that doesn't look that good."

Cvejic pointed to an existing HP Ventures development on Western Avenue — between Byron Street and Irving Park Road — as an example of what could be expected at Montrose and Bernard, and noted that renderings presented at the meeting were still in the preliminary phase.

The project requires a zoning change, he said, and the developers didn't want to go too far down the design path before gaining that approval.

The zoning change would allow for an 80,000-square-foot development and 90 units, with the developers saying they planned to build only a 4½-story, 58,000-square-foot structure housing the aforementioned 48 units.

Ald. Rey Colon (35th), who attended the meeting, pointed out that the zoning change would carry a stipulation that would limit the developers to build only what was shown in their presentation. In other words, no potential for a bait and switch.

Assuming the developers receive the go-ahead on the zoning front, construction would begin in October and take about a year, Cvejic said.

"I don't think anything will happen for two or three months," he said.

Members of the residents group called for a follow-up meeting when additional details are available.

"I'm all for the building, I just want to know more," Pancoast said. "That's what these community organizations exist for."