LAKEVIEW — Can one building draw business, discourage crime and designate Belmont and Clark as an "iconic" Chicago intersection?
It's a tall order, but after breaking ground on the mixed-use development on Wednesday, officials think it will stand up to the challenge.
"The 24/7 development will add so much vitality and safety into this intersection, and that's been one of our problems, safety in our neighborhood," Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said. "We think economic development can ... make it a safer neighborhood."
Tunney touted the project as the first major transit-oriented development in Lakeview, taking advantage of a 2013 ordinance passed to allow for less parking spots per square foot for properties near public transportation. Last month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who did not attend the Wednesday groundbreaking ceremony) proposed expanding the scope of transit-friendly zones to accelerate the development.
"The bottom line is that in transit-oriented developments, there is an ability to add density to an important corner and have less reliance on the automobile. It's even more clear these types of developments are instrumental in the growth of our city," Tunney said.
The $50 million project will have 90 apartments, with rent averaging $3 per square foot, developer David Blitz said. Many options will be available, from a 450-square-foot studio priced around $1,500 per month to spacious, 1,450-square-foot two-bedrooms for around $2,995, he said. One-bedroom apartments will be around $2,100.
On the first two floors, a "scaled-back" Target will anchor the building's 30,000 square feet of retail space and offer grocery, health and beauty departments.
Plans have been in the works since 2013, when BlitzLake Capital Partners bought the property, which at the time housed Dunkin' Donuts and businesses like Taboo Tabou and Architectural Revolution.
The original 10-story glass tower was scaled back to accommodate neighbors' concerns, which architect Howard Hirsch said was a "fluid" collaboration. The modern building was redesigned to better fit in with the neighborhood, as well.
The Plan Commission approved the development in May 2014. While most of the affected buildings were torn down in February, Dunkin' Donuts (known fondly to those in the punk scene as Punkin' Donuts) did not close until July.
On Wednesday, Tunney said he expected the project would be a "major catalyst toward re-energizing" central Lakeview.
"We felt this was an area that needed the extra density, needed more eyes on it at all hours of the day," he said.
Crime in the area near the Belmont "L" station — specifically a robbery-turned-homicide in late May — prompted Tunney to request "increased resources" from police. There were 20 robberies and 10 aggravated assaults or batteries in July in the area around the station, from Racine to Broadway and Roscoe to Wellington, according to police data.
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