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Truman Square Residents Asked to Vote on Proposed Wilson Avenue Development

By  Alex Nitkin and Mina Bloom | July 22, 2015 6:04am 

 A rendering of the development planned for 1050 W. Wilson Ave.
A rendering of the development planned for 1050 W. Wilson Ave.
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Cedar Street Commercial

UPTOWN — Neighbors at a block club meeting Monday evening were mostly supportive of prolific developer Cedar Street Co.'s proposal to build a seven-story, mixed-use development near the Wilson Red Line station, which is undergoing a complete transformation.

About 25 people came to 1050 W. Wilson Ave. Monday to discuss a new residential development planned for the site. The developer and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) answered residents' questions and addressed their concerns over the project.

The plan calls for the building at the site, a FLATS Studio art gallery, to be rented out to retailers. Developers would build a 102-apartment complex as an attachment to the building. 

"This is a great space, and there's a lot that can be done with it," said Mark Heffron, the managing director of design and construction for Cedar Street Co.

In order to move forward on the project, Cappleman will have to approve a zoning change for the property. His decision, he said, will depend on the results of a poll of the neighbors. Anyone who lives nearby has until midnight Wednesday to go on the Truman Square Neighbors Facebook page and vote on whether they want the development.

The cost of rent hasn't been determined yet. In the developer application posted on Cappleman's website, Cedar Street said it plans to devote 10 percent of the units to affordable housing, which is required by the city unless developers opt to pay the city to opt out of the requirement.

Before the building was rented by FLATS Studio, it was a historic Vaudeville theater and then a bank. 

"There's a ton of square footage here, and we plan to use every inch of it," Heffron said.

Residents were mostly supportive of the project, but several raised concerns over how the new building would affect street congestion and parking. A parking garage planned for the building would include 21 spaces for the 100-plus residents. 

"I think parking is the only sticking point here ... people are especially worried just because Kenmore is so narrow, and they'd be loading and unloading on that street," said Tonia Lorenz, secretary of the Truman Square Neighbors block club.

"But I do believe [Heffron] when he says that most of the young people living in these studios won't be owning cars. ... I know a lot of people who are moving to this area, in fact, because they don't want to have cars."

Cappleman said he's excited about the project, which he hopes will bring much-needed housing to the area.

"We're seeing a lot of demand that's causing rents to go up, and the only way to really stabilize that is to bring in more housing," Cappleman said. "People in this area have really been searching for more economic development, and retail follows residents, so this could attract a lot of business too."

Cedar Street hopes to start construction on the project in March or April. From that point, Heffron said, construction would take a little more than a year, "give or take a month."

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