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Transit-Oriented Apartment-Retail-Office Development Coming to Montrose

By Patty Wetli | November 19, 2014 10:52am | Updated on November 20, 2014 9:57am
 A rendering of the proposed Montrose Green (narrow building on left), slated to become the area's first official transit-oriented development.
A rendering of the proposed Montrose Green (narrow building on left), slated to become the area's first official transit-oriented development.
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Harrington Brown

NORTH CENTER — A long-vacant parcel of land on Montrose Avenue is slated to become one of the city's first officially designated transit-oriented developments, consolidating apartments, retail and offices in a single building near public transportation.

Montrose Green, immediately west of the Montrose Brown Line station at 1819 W. Montrose Ave., is designed to take advantage of an ordinance, passed in 2013, that cuts developers some slack regarding parking and square footage requirements when a building is located within a specified distance from transit.

The five-story structure, proposed by developer Harrington Brown, would consist of 24 mostly one-bedroom apartments, 5,300 square feet of first-floor retail/restaurant space and 3,000 square feet for offices on the top floor.

The intent is to attract young urban professionals as renters, many of whom are opting not to own cars, and to serve as an incubator for small business owners and entrepreneurs, according to David Brown, owner of Harrington Brown.

Brown picked up the property in 2009 during a Chicago Transit Authority auction — the site had been used to stage equipment during the Brown Line renovation — and has been waiting out the recession ever since.

"I've been patient from the beginning," said Brown, who intends to become his own tenant, moving his company's offices from Ravenswood Avenue to Montrose Green. "I knew we were in a terrible market. I was seeing the trends bottom out and then improve."

While his plans for the lot continued to take shape, Brown leased the land to Peterson Garden Project, which operated a community garden, also called Montrose Green, on the site. Plots were tended by neighbors, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as local restaurants.

"It allowed us to confirm what we believed about the location ... it's a special place," Brown said.

Situated at the convergence of North Center, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood, Montrose Green is ideally positioned to take advantage of the energy in the neighborhood, he said.

"People want to live here, dine here and work here," he said. "We're in a great spot."

Brown said he hopes to break ground on the project in spring 2015, pending approval of a zoning change he needs in order for the building to qualify as a transit-oriented development.

Proposed transit-oriented developments (TOD) in neighborhoods such as Wicker Park have met with mixed reception from residents.

Neighbors will have an opportunity to quiz Brown about his plans for Montrose Green at an upcoming community meeting, at which the zoning change will be discussed.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said the meeting would be scheduled for sometime after Thanksgiving.

"We want to hear from people what they think," the alderman said.

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