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Apartments on Montrose Being Reconsidered After Community Opposition

  The 12 homes planned for the vacant lot should be condominiums, not rental apartments, neighbors said.
Apartment Complex to be Redesigned
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JEFFERSON PARK — A plan to build a 12-unit apartment complex on a long-vacant lot near Montrose and Cicero avenues is being revised after it drew criticism from nearby residents, authorities said.

Noah Properties, which wants to build two, three-story buildings and 18 parking spaces at 4812-18 W. Montrose Ave., is weighing a plan to build condominiums rather than rental apartments, said Sara Barnes, the developer's attorney.

Why are Jefferson Park neighbors objecting to rental projects? Heather Cherone explains:

After discussing the development — which was the subject of a 3½-hour community meeting July 9 — with Ald. John Arena (45th), Barnes said the developer is waiting for an analysis of the real estate market on the Far Northwest Side to determine whether it would be economically feasible to build condominiums rather than rental apartments.

Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff, said the lengthy meeting was productive and gave the developer guidance on what kind of project the community would support on land that had been slated to become shops after a 1999 proposal to build 14 condominiums was scuttled by community opposition.

"That's why we do these meetings," Brugh said.

A three-story apartment building is directly west of the 14,200-square-foot parcel, and a Citgo gas station is directly east. The Montrose stop on the CTA Blue Line is a short walk, as is the Mayfair station on Metra's Milwaukee District North Line. Both the Montrose and Cicero avenue buses stop nearby.

The proposal from Noah Properties would require a zoning change, which requires the support of Arena and approval from the Chicago Plan Commission. 

Arena often has touted his support for projects that give people a chance to live near mass transit hubs and business districts. However, Arena will not take a position on the development until he reviews the revised project, Brugh added.

Existing rules would allow eight apartments or condominiums to be built on the site, along with four storefronts, said Bill Kokalias, of Axios Architects, who is designing the project. 

In addition to making the units condos rather than rental apartments, attendees at the meeting asked the developer to make the building all brick and reduce the number of parking spaces in an effort to reduce traffic. They also asked the developer to enclose the parking area and add landscaping along the alley that links LaCrosse and Cicero avenues.

Noah Properties is working to accommodate those requests, Barnes said.

The original plans called for each building to have six apartments, four with two bedrooms and two with three bedrooms and rent for $1,700 to $2,200.

Tina Marie Campbell, who has lived near Montrose and Cicero avenues for more than 25 years, said the area is dense enough, and does not need more rental apartments.

"We've got a great neighborhood here," Campbell said. "I'd like to see it grow and get better."

Campbell said she was concerned about more traffic in the alley, which many people use to bypass gridlocked Montrose and Cicero avenues.

Campbell said she was pleased plans were in the works to develop the property, which she called an eyesore.

The property is now used as a private parking lot.

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