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Bloomingdale Trail Apartment Plan Shrinks, But Some Locals Still Skeptical

By Alisa Hauser | March 18, 2015 12:24pm | Updated on March 18, 2015 12:40pm

WICKER PARK —  A plan to revitalize an existing Aldi grocery store and build 100 apartments near the Bloomingdale Trail was met with resistance Tuesday from some Wicker Park residents, who are opposed to the size of the six-story building and what they say is a lack of enough affordable housing units.

"I voted against it because I felt that having only three affordable units in a massively up-zoned 100-unit project was woefully inadequate," said Teddy Varndell, a member of the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development subcommittee.

The seven-member group reviewed Centrum Partners LLC's plans at a meeting in the Wicker Park Field House voting 5-2 against an "upzoning" that would be needed for the project on Milwaukee Ave. to happen.

Rendering of the "Centrum 606" development, 1759-67 N. Milwaukee Ave:

Rendering by Hirsch Associates/Architect Howard Hirsch

Along the border of Bucktown and Wicker Park, the plan, dubbed "Centrum 606," would also include an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible respite area that would connect to a portion of the 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail, set to open in June.

Alisa Hauser breaks down the proposal:

Rendering by Hirsch Associates/Architect Howard Hirsch

New renderings by architect Howard Hirsch for a 100-unit apartment building with an Aldi grocery store and a 4,400 square-foot restaurant were presented to the group.

The developer's previous plan (view it here) called for seven-stories and 128 apartments, which neighborhood groups rejected.

Under the new plan, there would be 62 underground parking spots for the building's residents and 60 parking spots for Aldi shoppers on the ground-level. The restaurant or retail spot would not be operated by Aldi, said Graham Palmer, a partner at Centrum Partners. 

The unit mix would be 4 studios, 52 one-bedroom, 38 two-bedroom and 6 three-bedroom apartments, with an overall average of 881 square-feet.

The modern concrete cast and steel building would feature a glass and aluminum metal panel exterior with off-white accents and span 59,000 square feet.

Rendering by Hirsch Associates/Architect Howard Hirsch

The city's Affordable Requirements Ordinance requires that certain new buildings over 20 units either allocate 10 percent of units as affordable housing or pay $100,000 per unit to a city-managed trust fund that helps to develop low-income housing elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to pass a new ordinance that would require developers to build one-quarter, or 25 percent, of the 10 percent, Palmer said.

Palmer said the project cannot happen with 10 affordable units. Centrum Partners is prepared to offer three affordable units in the building and pay $700,000 into a city fund for the other seven dwellings, he said.

"The economics of every project is different. In the past, we have voluntarily agreed to higher Affordable Housing standards than those required by the ordinance. With respect to this project, it is not economically feasible for us to provide all affordable housing units on site," Palmer said.

Though the proposal was rejected as presented, Varndell said the group would support an 80-unit, 5-story building, with a minimum of 4 on site affordable unit.

Developers have not put that option on the table and were not immediately available to comment on the suggestion.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), whose ward is where the project is planned, previously said he would like the plan discussed by Bucktown residents, who will review the project next weekend.

Early Wednesday, Beth White, director of the Trust for Public Land's Chicago region office, said that she has seen Centrum Partners' plans to connect a portion of their development to the trail, an elevated 2.7-mile-long biking, jogging and walking path beginning in Bucktown and Wicker Park to the east and extending west to Logan Square and Humboldt Park.

“We are currently reviewing the plans. What’s important to us is that any development along the trail be a good neighbor to the project and to the surrounding communities," White said.

The Trust for Public Land is helping to lead the Bloomingdale Trail, a public and private partnership between the city, the Chicago Park District and the Trust.

The proposed development's connection to the trail would be near "Park 567," at 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave., one of six ground-level neighborhood parks that will link up to the path, which is named for Bloomingdale Avenue, the street the path runs along between Ridgeway and Ashland avenues.

At 8:15 a.m. Saturday, the nine members of the Bucktown Community Organization's planning and zoning committee are scheduled to review the revised presentation during their monthly meeting at The Map Room, 1929 N. Hoyne Ave.

"We have not seen the revised plan that was presented [to Wicker Park's subcommittee] last night.  Once the plan is in final form, the general membership [of the BCO] will vote," said Philip Edison, the committee's chairman.

Saturday's Bucktown meeting is open to the public. For more information, visit the Bucktown Community organization's website.

The Wicker Park Committee's main membership meeting, also open to the public, is scheduled for April 1st.  There will be no vote on the plan but Ed Tamminga, the P&D committee's chairman, said on Thursday that "there will be ample notice of a future public WPC membership meeting where the proposal will be considered and voted on."

Centrum 606 - Additional Pages (03.18.15) by Hirsch and Associates.


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