LOGAN SQUARE — The major development project that a developer hopes will replace the Mega Mall passed a major hurdle Thursday, gaining approval at the city's Plan Commission.
The ambitious Logan's Crossing project, including 220 housing units, was approved unanimously.
The Department of Planning and Development supports it, as does Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).
Waguespack's Chief of Staff Paul Sajovec called it a "very challenging site, and a very important one" to the neighborhood during Thursday's hearing.
The development project, which will replace the old Mega Mall along Milwaukee Avenue, had undergone a series of changes over the years-long proposal process.
The latest version of the plan includes 220 residential units, down from the original proposal's 267.
The proposal was also lowered to a maximum height of 98 feet.
Not everyone was in favor of the project, especially affordable housing advocates who have tried to push for more than the 22 units of affordable housing on site that were approved Thursday, which is the minimum allowed, or 10 percent.
John McDermott, of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, argued against the plan. He called affordable housing "the fundamental existential issue" for Logan Square, with "a certain demographic" — more affluent yuppies — threatening to alter the economic environment. "The retail district reacts to" the influx of income, he said.
"We are at risk of losing businesses that are bilingual," McDermott said, as well as other low-end businesses, so that longterm residents might well find themselves saying, "Can we afford to shop in this neighborhood anymore?" He called it "an existential crisis in our community."
Yet Paul Levin, executive director of the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, expressed his support, and said, "We're all hoping" for a new grocery store, both longterm residents and relative newcomers. He said it would also help with the loss of 10,000 residents Logan Square suffered in the census from 2000 to 2010.
McDermott was the only real opposition, and there was no opposition on the commission. It passed 11-0.
It's a zoning change on the way to being recognized as a residential business planned development, meaning it will need City Council approval as well.
The hope is that the project bridges two distinct Logan Square business districts to the north and south of the site.
The development also includes a grocery store, fitness center, rooftop pool and retail space along Milwaukee Avenue.
Logan's Crossing will include 114,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
Terraco, the developer, presented the project to the city's Plan Commission Thursday afternoon, the first major step toward rezoning the sprawling site.
The property stretches for about a full block in the area of 2500 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The original design first announced more than a year ago featured a more modern look than the revised plan, which is now mostly red brick and includes a clock tower facing Logan Square and the Centennial Monument.
According to the architect, Joe Antunovich, his original modernist design "went over like a lead balloon" with locals. Thus the more traditional red-brick design he arrived at.
The Mega Mall, a longtime indoor flea market slated for demolition, was sold to Terraco Real Estate last September.
The project is slated for a 2.7-acre lot and includes two buildings connected by a sky bridge.
Logan's Crossing is the biggest development currently being discussed or under construction in Logan Square, which is undergoing a development boom.
Most of the projects are being built or are slated to be built along Milwaukee Avenue.
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