WICKER PARK — A developer wants to overhaul an area known by some as "Wicker Park's Dirty Doorstep," but some neighbors say the plan could be too much for the neighborhood's Polish Triangle.
LG Development, which owns the properties at 1237-53 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 1230-40 N. Ashland Ave., applied for a zoning change in May to develop a seven-story building on the land with 60 residences and 12,868 square feet of retail space.
The area currently houses a number of empty storefronts along with a Bank of America location and a Footlocker.
Brian Goldberg, of LG Development, said he has a transit-oriented development in mind. The project would be a short walk from the Division Street "L" stop and, if it eventually materializes, the Ashland Bus-Rapid Transit route.
"We are working with the neighborhood on a very constructive basis," Goldberg said. He declined to comment further on the planned project.
Much has been made of unsuccessful efforts to revamp the Polish Triangle, which was once a homeless hangout and more recently a pigeon-magnet.
One neighbor who'd like to see the intersection transformed is Teddy Varndell, a member of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development group.
But Varndell said he wished LG Development would do more to improve the corner and objected to the size of the planned building. He called the plans for the seven-story building "gargantuan."
"It's way too much, especially when they're not resolving the issue of the existing two-story building," Varndell said.
Under the current proposal, the height of the building housing Bank of America building appears to be left alone. New residences are planned for the existing second story.
"It's only two stories high, and then they stick a seven-story building behind it mid-block," he said.
Floor plans from Jonathan Splitt Architects, first reported by Curbed, show glass and metal materials making up much of the building exterior. The plans also include a penthouse roof, a common residential roof deck and green grid roof system.
A number of people sparred about the project on Everyblock, and the discussion included some praise of its transit-friendly aim as well as worries about whether it would lead to overcrowding at the Division stop.
Ed Tamminga, also of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development arm, said he's concerned about the building's height.
"We need to have something that is acceptable and is architecturally contributing to the neighborhood," Tamminga said.
What ends up happening at that corner "is what we’re going to live with forever," he added.
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