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Alderman Approves Controversial Condo Building Near Bartelme Park

By Stephanie Lulay | September 4, 2015 7:58am | Updated on September 4, 2015 8:43am

WEST LOOP — After months of debate, a West Loop alderman has approved a controversial condo development planned near Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop.

Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he will back LG Development's plan to build a nine-story plus penthouse building at 111 S. Peoria St. The tower will include 95 condominiums on the site that now houses a parking lot. 

"The developer changed everything [neighbors] asked for," Burnett told DNAinfo Chicago Wednesday night.

The alderman said he made the decision to support the condo proposal after receiving a letter of support from the West Central Association. The West Loop Community Organization also supports the project, but board members did have some questions about the building's aesthetics, according to Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the group.

Neighbors of West Loop has not issued a formal position on the latest proposal, but still had concerns about the project, said Larry Gage, president of the group.

The building "is way too big for the site. We're still leaning against supporting the plan," Gage said Thursday morning. "The alderman is having community meetings but he's kind of doing what he wants to do at the end of the day. We feel there are a lot of residents who are constituents in the West Loop who are not being listened to." 

Stephanie Lulay explains why some neighbors want to stop the project:

The condo plan calls for a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units and 99 parking spots to be developed in the 115-foot-tall building. A one-bedroom condo would be 900 square feet and a four-bedroom unit would feature 2,500 square feet of space, according to renderings.

Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. has approved plans for a nine-story plus penthouse condo building at 111 S. Peoria St. in the West Loop. [LG Development]

Burnett's move to support the condo plan comes after hundreds of neighbors weighed in on the project in a series of summer meetings.

In August, neighbors living near the site argued that the new condo building could put them in danger if a fire were to break out. But developer Brian Goldberg disagreed, insisting that the condo plan addressed life-safety issues and was reviewed by the Chicago Fire Department, the city's Fire Prevention Bureau, city planning officials and the Chicago Department of Transportation.

At that same meeting, Burnett reminded neighbors that he doesn't make decisions on new development based on how it will impact other residents' existing views. No one has "a right" to a view, he said.

"I can tell when there's a lot of B.S. going on and people are really talking about views," Burnett said.

As of August, LG Development did not own the Peoria lot, but did have a contract with the property's owner Cacciatore to buy the property for $6.25 million. The sale is contingent on a zoning change that would allow for their condo proposal to be developed at the site, according to partner Brian Goldberg.

Typical residential floor plan under of LG Development's 111 S. Peoria St. proposal. [LG Development]

From rentals to condos

Before pitching condos to the community, the developer first proposed a taller, more dense rental tower.

LG Development previously planned to build a 13-story apartment tower at the site, but hundreds of West Loop residents slammed the project in June, leading Burnett to kill the rental development. Under that plan, 215 apartments were proposed compared to the current 95 condos.

Hundreds of West Loop residents slammed LG Development's first plan, which called for 215 rental units to be developed at the site. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]

At the June meeting, the crowd took issue with the height of the building and the number of apartments. Neighbors said they did not want more rentals in the neighborhood and were concerned the new building could present safety issues for existing condo owners.

Comments made at that meeting about renters led Burnett to say in July that he thought the West Loop was starting to become "a bigot neighborhood."

The West Loop Residents Association and others strongly opposed the 13-story apartment building over months, ultimately hiring an attorney to fight the project. 

Alternative community center plan

In an effort to offer an alternative to the developer's plan, a group of neighbors pitched a two-story community center to the alderman in August, contending that the center would be a better fit for the neighborhood.

Burnett ultimately said he could not consider the plan because the group had not contacted the property's owner. Peter Cacciatore, president of the group that currently owns the 111 S. Peoria site, confirmed in a letter that neighbors pushing the community center plan had not reached out to him.

The community center plan, developed by the West Loop Residents Association and other neighbors, would be privately financed through fundraising. Neighbor Richard Dees said he secured a $2 million commitment to the project that would be used to purchase the property.

The 111 S. Peoria St. property needs a zoning change.

LG Development rendering of proposed 111 S. Peoria condo building. [LG Development]

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