LOGAN SQUARE — A development proposal that would bring an additional 95 units to Logan’s Square’s busiest strip was aired at a community meeting Wednesday night, July 15.
The meeting drew a full house of around 50 people to the office of Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), who presented plans for the 7-story all-residential building proposal with finance and real estate attorney Rolando Acosta.
The building, set for 2841-45 W. Belden Ave., continues in a long line of new Logan Square development — especailly transit-oriented development — along Milwaukee Avenue from Fullerton Avenue to California Avenue, largely centered around the California Blue Line station.
It also continues a long line of heated debate over density, affordable housing and traffic/parking issues in the neighborhood as several new developments make their way through construction and approval in the Milwaukee/California area, including the Twin Towers and the 'L' building.
If approved, vacant buildings and a vacant lot will be cleared for the new transit-oriented development, which will feature residential units on all floors — studio to 2-bedrooms, at 600 to 1,000 square feet per unit — on 17,500 square feet of land.
Support and objection for the new 2841-45 W. Belden Ave. proposal was aired July 15 — though residents say the two renderings are misleading as they show a height and scale surrounding the proposed development that doesn't currently exist. [Rolando Acosta]
The building will construct 44 parking spots for the 95 units and will build 10 percent affordable housing units on site, per the unofficial 1st Ward directive disallowing affordable housing pay-outs from developers.
As with many past meetings, affordable housing and parking were main points of contention among residents in attendance, who largely represented anti-gentrification activists and land owners.
Members of Somos Logan Square resisted the development as is, arguing for an increase in the percentage of affordable housing, a reduction in the building’s scale and a reconsideration of “affordability” as stated in the Affordable Requirements Ordinance. The ordinance puts eligibility for those units at 60 percent or below of Average Median Income, a baseline that anti-gentrification activists argue is too high for low-income residents seeking to reside in the slate of new developments.
During the meeting, Somos member Jason Eiler called the development a "pissant attempt at feigned affordability" and argued for up to 50 percent affordable units in the building.
But the higher density is what funds the affordable housing, argued Acosta and Moreno, who is a lead sponsor of the city's Transit-Oriented Development ordinance and Affordable Requirements Ordinance.
“I need tools as the alderman to be able to bring affordable housing — I can't just advocate for it,” Moreno said. “Those who advocate for affordable housing and don’t advocate for density — they don’t get [affordable housing]. They're shooting themselves in the foot.”
Because the property is seeking approval for an upzoning of the lot, residents in support of both density and affordable housing say now is the time and put pressure on developers and, eventually, expand transit-oriented development to include areas beyond 600 feet of transit.
The alderman’s point was supported by Yonah Freemark of the Metropolitan Planning Council, who argued that, aside from the cost, increasing density through upzoning is a way to control gentrification and stem a loss of affordable housing.
“Without upzoning they wouldn’t have to build any affordable housing at all — we’re only going to get it with the upzoning,” Freemark said, adding that, according to driving trends among millennials and young urban professionals, the building’s allotment of 44 parking spaces may prove to be too many.
Residents against density and/or affordable housing, however, expressed concerns over parking, saying the proposal should include more spaces.
But the answer is simple and self-selecting, according to Acosta: “If you have four cars, don’t rent here.”
Moreno committed to a second meeting ahead of any City Council deliberation of the proposal. The building will be developed by Barry Sidel of Sidel Co. and designed by architect Laszlo Simovic.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: