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Revised Proposal Calls for 200-Unit Apartment Building in Lincoln Park

By Paul Biasco | May 27, 2015 8:46am
 A rendering of the proposed Lincoln Centre development that was presented to the community Tuesday night.
A rendering of the proposed Lincoln Centre development that was presented to the community Tuesday night.
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Baker Development Corp.

LINCOLN PARK — Can Lincoln Park prices support a 200-unit transit-oriented development project?

That was the big question raised by audience members at a meeting for the resurrected Lincoln Centre development Tuesday night. Such projects allow developers to reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces in residential developments if they are within 600 feet of a transit station.

The project, which seeks to revitalize Lincoln Avenue, is aimed at millennials, young 30-somethings and empty nesters, according to the developer.

Studio apartments in the building would start at about $1,600 per month while the penthouse would carry a $6,000 monthly cost. 

The developer does not expect the building to be geared toward nearby DePaul University students because of the steep price.

The project that was presented was a slightly different version of one which was proposed a year ago during a community meeting. 

The proposed 107-foot-tall apartment building would replace a condo building, considered by some to be blighted, at 2518-2540 N. Lincoln Avenue.

The new proposed Lincoln Centre development. [Baker Development Corp.]

The original proposed development, which has been revamped. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]

The new proposal features 25 fewer units than the first proposal and about 50 fewer parking spaces.

Those 138 spaces in a three-story parking structure below the apartments would be split between residents of the building and new commercial businesses along Lincoln Avenue that will be part of the project.

Most residents and business owners at the meeting voiced their support for the project with hopes that it would revitalize Lincoln Avenue, which has been struggling since the closing of Children's Memorial Hospital in 2012.

David Bliss, a resident on Lincoln Avenue, said the new project will lead to filling empty storefronts, more people on Lincoln and a few extra cars won't be a big deal.

"It's all going to be much better for the property values in the neighborhood than this really ugly property," Bliss said.

Ben Hamm, owner of nearby Lincoln Station, 2432 N. Lincoln Ave., agreed.

"I think the new modifications look great and I'm excited to change Lincoln Park's path as far as people moving to it instead of moving out of it," Hamm said. "We need to have good reliable customers in this neighborhood and this is a project that can definitely make that happen."

One resident questioned whether the price point on the development, which will start as apartments but could eventually be converted to condos, was too high for a transit-oriented development.

No affordable housing will be included in the project. The developer will instead pay a fee into the affordable housing fund.

The developer of the project is banking on new residents who wish to live without cars and use the nearby Fullerton "L" stop.

A number of similar projects have popped up in Chicago since the city passed an ordinance in 2013 allowing fewer parking spaces in designated transit-oriented developments.

"This has been played out in various developments throughout the city," said Rolando Acosta, the developer's zoning attorney. "We think it will work here."

Acosta pointed to a development at Division and Ashland in Wicker Park which was constructed with no parking spaces.

The developer of the Lincoln Centre project, Warren Baker of Baker Development Corp., is already covering the bill for the renovation of the Apollo Theater, which is currently under construction.

A rendering of the Apollo Theater renovations. [Baker Development Corp.]
The renovations of the theater were estimated to cost between $6 million and $7 million.

The original plan revealed in May 2014 was presented as a quid-pro-quo deal with the neighborhood: The developer would pay to renovate the theater and provide 85 parking spaces for the public to use in exchange for an approval for additional height of the building.

That plan fell through and was revamped to the current proposal which has fewer units, is slightly shorter and is less prominent along Lincoln Avenue.

Although the developer never got the OK on the original, he proceeded to move forward with the renovation of the Apollo Theater.

Asked why the developer was fronting the bill before project had been vetted by the community, Baker's business partner Dan Slack said they were hopeful about the project. "We are betting people," Slack said.

The new development would be 20 percent studio apartments, 30 percent one-bedroom units, 30 percent two-bedroom, one penthouse and the remaining units three bedrooms.

The new concept features a large courtyard three stories above the Lincoln Avenue commercial units and between the residential portions of the project.

The commercial portion of the project hopes to attract a restaurant. [Baker Development Corp.]

Originally, the building featured a courtyard that faced the "L" tracks behind the building and 240 feet of 10-story residential on Lincoln Avenue.

The new proposal is also one story lower than the first proposed.

The 53,000-square-foot site would have room for 16,00 square feet of commercial space along Lincoln Avenue.

The project is still in the community meeting stage, but if Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) green lights the project and brings it to the city zoning board this summer, it could be complete by the second quarter of 2017.

Smith called Tuesday's meeting "very, very important," in the process and suggested residents call or email her office with further input or comments.

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