BUCKTOWN/WICKER PARK — A plan to revitalize an existing Aldi grocery store and build a six-story, 100-unit apartment building near the Bloomingdale Trail has gotten a preliminary stamp of approval from a Bucktown group.
Along the border of Bucktown and Wicker Park, the plan, dubbed "Centrum 606," would also include an accessible respite area that would connect to a portion of the 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail, set to open in June.
All renderings by Hirsch Associates/Architect Howard Hirsch
The Bucktown Community Organization's zoning and planning subcommittee voted 8-0 Saturday in support of the "upzoning" needed to redevelop 1759-67 N. Milwaukee Ave., on the southeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street.
"Fifty-two percent of the units are one-bedroom; that is exemplary. It is what Bucktown needs," said Sam Marts, an architect and member of the group, which meets at The Map Room, 1949 N. Hoyne Ave.
Steve Lipe, a real estate developer and member of the Bucktown group, described the project as "urbanistic."
"It helps the street. It's very walkable and would be an impactful change on that whole corner," Lipe predicted.
After the meeting, Centrum Partners' Managing Partner John McLinden said he was "happy" for the support.
"The Aldi parcel is an extremely important redevelopment site for both Centrum and the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods," McLinden said.
Centrum Partner plans to spend an estimated $37 million on the development, which "will be the first significant mixed-use project developed along the new 606 Trail," McLinden said.
If the plan passes muster with neighborhood groups, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and City Council, construction would begin in January and be completed by the end of 2016, McLinden said.
Aldi, which opened in the late 1980s, underwent a remodeling in 2012 and recently signed a 20-year lease. Aldi will be closed when construction starts, McLinden said.
Proposed Aldi Renovation:
Philip Edison, the Bucktown Community Organization's zoning and planning chairman, cautioned on Monday that Saturday's vote was "a preliminary approval."
"It should be considered a preliminary vote at this stage and any revisions would require a new vote. The final vote that will be reported to the alderman will be taken by the general membership," Edison said.
According to the Bucktown group's blog, the matter will be coming up for vote at a future membership meeting, though no date has been set.
Last week, the same plan drew opposition from members of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development subcommittee, which voted 5-2 against the project. Their main concern was a lack of affordable housing.
"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.
Ed Tamminga, the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development chairman, assured folks, "There will be ample notice of a future public WPC membership meeting where the proposal will be considered and voted on."
The developer's previous plan (view it here) called for seven-stories and 128 apartments, which both Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhood groups rejected.
Under the new plan, which includes a 4,400 square-foot restaurant, 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.
The unit mix would be four studios, 52 one-bedroom, 38 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom apartments, with the overall per-unit 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.
Centrum's project has also gotten the green light from five homeowners who live next door.
Located south of the Bloomingdale Trail and adjacent to the Aldi redevelopment parcel, Wilmot Avenue's single family homes are a mixture of new and old.
As part of a separate proposal, Centrum seeks to build two single-family homes at the western edge of Wilmot Avenue.
The Wilmot Neighbors Association are requesting that Centrum erect an eight-foot-tall fence between the new single family lots and the Aldi parcel to provide additional privacy, according to a letter of support for the project that they sent to Waguespack.
"This letter is especially important since [Wilmot homeowners] are the neighbors that are located closest to the proposed development and will be impacted by it more than anyone else," McLinden said.
Waguespack previously said he wants both Wicker Park and Bucktown community groups to weigh in on the plan.
"We anticipate having a general neighborhood meeting in advance of moving forward with anything. At this point we haven't had a chance to review the input from both groups and the close by neighbors to see where things stand," said Paul Sajovec, a spokesman for Waguespack.
Sajovec said that no vote will be taken at the public meeting for Wicker Park and Bucktown residents.
"The alderman 's general meeting will not include a vote. The idea is to present plans and provide opportunity for feedback and questions. Should either group want to take a vote of members they are welcome to," Sajovec said.
In addition to the preliminary support from the Bucktown group, Centrum's plan has gotten support from the board of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, according to a letter from president David DeSanto.
Centrum 606 - Revised Plan (03.18.15) by Hirsch and Associates.
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