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Wicker Park Proposal Would Put 7-Story Building on Prime Division Spot

 Centrum Partners LLC presented plans this week for 1660 W. Division St.
1660 W. Division St.
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WICKER PARK — A local developer wants to build a seven-story, mixed-used building on a vacant lot along Division Street, joining the ranks of those eyeing land near the Division "L" stop for transit-oriented buildings.

Centrum Partners LLC, which also owns the building, presented early plans for the project to a local preservation and development group this week.

The building, to be designed by Hirsch Associates, would have 77 apartments, 39 underground parking spaces and about 12,000 square feet for ground-floor retail at 1660 W. Division St., right by Bangers & Lace.

With a relatively low parking-to-unit ratio and the proximity to the Division "L" stop, Centrum partner John McLinden said he expected to build a transit-oriented development.

Other recent projects that have popped up or are in the works near the "L" stop include a proposal for part of the Polish Triangle, the luxury high-rise at 1611 W. Division St. and a plan for 1726-28 W. Division St.

But some neighbors who are part of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development group criticized the number of residential units as too many and the size of the building as too big. Centrum would have to get a zoning change in order to build the project.

"The scale of this proposal is way out of proportion [with current zoning]," resident Grant Drutchas said.

Height was a particular concern of the group. The new building would stand about 80 feet tall.

Neighbor Teddy Varndell, who called the building "too big in every direction," said he was concerned about the potential number of new residents and cars the development would add in the area.

"It really changes the quality of life for the people who live in the neighborhoods," Varndell said.

McLinden defended the property as something that would bring residents with money to spend along Division.

He said he also thought the commercial space would be particularly attractive to restaurateurs.

"This stretch of Division Street is probably the finest outdoor dining venue in Chicago," McLinden said, citing the wide sidewalks and number of restaurants with patios along the street.

Ed Tamminga, chairman of the preservation and development committee, said he wondered about the possible effects of the number of transit-oriented developments springing up around town.

"This happened so rapid fire that I don't think the committee, not just Wicker Park, but other communities, have really had an opportunity to assess what the consequences are," he said.

Larry Powers, vice president of acquisitions and development at Centrum, said the company would consider the feedback of the group.

"I think it was a first step," he said.

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