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Morse Ave. Developers Nix Studios, Add Landscaping, Parking Changes

By Linze Rice | July 2, 2015 3:07pm
 Changes to the building's original design include a larger lobby,
Changes to the building's original design include a larger lobby, "enhanced pedestrian experience" like more windows and landscaping, and scrapping studio apartments for larger units—bringing the total number of apartments down to 45 from 50, according to developers.
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Tawani Enterprises

ROGERS PARK — Developers behind the proposed 8-story residential and parking building at 1313 W. Morse Ave. announced some changes to their original plan, including nixing studio apartments in favor of bigger units, more flexibility in sharing parking spaces with Mayne Stage and a larger first floor lobby, according to Sean McGowan, chief operating officer at Col. Jennifer Pritzker's Tawani Enterprises.

Pritzker, who also owns and developed the Mayne Stage Theater across the street, bought the property — currently a mostly vacant strip mall — on December 23 last year for $3,075,000, according to Cook County property records, after working to obtain the property for three years, McGowan said.

"We're thrilled about this project," McGowan said, adding that there was a "strategic plan" to create a cohesive look on the block. "We're taking elements from the original 100-year-old Morse Theater, the red brick and terra cotta, and trying to emulate the look and the synergy in trying to create that in all the buildings."

In a letter to Ald. Joe Moore (49th), McGowan said the ward's Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee and the Rogers Park Business Alliance both pushed for bigger residential units, a different location for the building's loading berth and a more inviting street-level atmosphere.

The number of apartments will decrease from the originally proposed 50 to 45, since studios will be replaced with bigger one- and two-bedroom units, each with a private deck or balcony, according to McGowan.

Under Tawani's new plan, McGowan said 25 parking spaces would be dedicated to residents year-round, but an additional 50 managed by Mayne Stage will be shared with the community at an hourly or daily rate when not in use — a change that McGowan said he felt the community was "very pleased with."

McGowan said that parking lot patrons will use a separate elevator so as to limit access to the main building. Occasionally, security personnel may also patrol the garage, he said.

An earlier rendering of the development at 1313 W. Morse Ave. [Tawani Enterprises]

The building's Morse Avenue entryway will be larger and feature wide glass windows to "create a more welcoming street presence for pedestrians," McGowan said in his letter.

Through the windows pedestrians can peek into the building's first floor lobby, now doubled in size with added couches, chairs, decorations and an attached mail room.

While there will not be a doorperson, residents will be able to access the building using secure key fobs — similar to an electronic car door opener — a feature that won't be available to those who only use the building's parking lot.

Along Morse and Wayne avenues, added wall lighting fixtures will "enhance safety at residential and parking garage entrances," McGowan said. Planter boxes, trees and ornamental iron railings are part of the updated proposal's attempt to "beautify" sidewalk areas and building facades.

As with all Tawani-owned residential buildings, the Morse Ave. development will have a pet-friendly policy, he said.

Pritzker's Tawani Enterprises, also the developer behind 1340 W. Morse Ave., is asking to re-zone the land to allow for a taller building with more apartments than what city code currently allows. Under a new zoning classification, developers could build the 83-foot-tall, 45-unit building they're proposing — the top five floors of which would be apartments, with the first three being dedicated to shared parking between residents and Mayne Stage patrons, Moore said in an email to residents.

McGowan said he and representatives from the Alderman's office will regroup in the coming weeks to determine the building's fate.

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