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Wicker Park Polish Alma Mater Sells for $5 Mil. in Seven-Lot Deal Near Hub

By Alisa Hauser | August 28, 2014 9:58am
 A new development is coming to a row of building at 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park.
New Development at 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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WICKER PARK —  A row of buildings just north of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection, including the vintage Polish Alma Mater offices, was sold for $5.05 million on Tuesday, paving the way for new apartments, shared offices and retail storefronts.

LG Development Group paid $5 million for the seven city lots, which currently include the four-story, 1890s-era Polish Alma Mater building, a one-story restaurant that has been vacant since Mado Restaurant shuttered in 2010, a parking lot and a car wash, said Brian Goldberg of LG Development.

The seller of the properties, Greg Stammich, declined to comment.

Alisa Hauser says this development is a significant chunk of real estate in Wicker Park:

 LG Development bought a row of building from 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park for $5 million Tuesday.  
Updated Plans for 1643-57 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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The vintage office building at 1643-45 N. Milwaukee Ave. will be preserved, while developers plan to construct a five-story, 36-unit apartment building at 1647-57 N. Milwaukee Ave. The other properties will be demolished to make room for the residential complex.

The plan for the site was approved by members of the Wicker Park Committee in March

Goldberg's initial plan included demolishing the 119-year-old office building, but changed after the committee voted against the proposal in December. Alma Mater is not part of the landmark district.

LG Development Group plans to offer retail storefronts on the ground level, and shared or flexible office space, in the two upper floors of the Alma Mater building, which is currently home to a nonprofit, Girls on the Run, and  1 on 1 Fitness Training.

Built in the 1890s, the building served as the headquarters for a Polish fraternal aid organization; Polish Alma Mater is inscribed in stone over the entrance.

The new apartment building, designed by Antunovich Associates, will have 11 parking spaces. The development is within 600 feet of the CTA Damen Blue Line "L" station, so LG Development would like it to be considered a "transit-oriented development," which relieves it of having to provide one parking space for each rental unit.

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

Sam Talarico, who has operated the Wash Express car wash for 23 years, said Wednesday the business would be open through the end of the year. Demolition of the other properties could begin before the end of the year, Goldberg said.

Michael Giglio, who was working out with a trainer at 1 on 1 Fitness on Thursday, called the development "an evolution for the neighborhood and more opportunity."

"Change is good. Wicker Park is no longer a pioneering neighborhood for artists, but those artists move out and start pioneering in other neighborhoods," Giglio said.

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