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Huge 'Wicker Park Connection' 200-Unit Development Approaches Vote

By Alisa Hauser | January 21, 2016 9:53am | Updated on January 22, 2016 9:15am
 Design renderings for the Wicker Park Connection, a large 200-unit development offering apartments, townhomes, condos and lots of public space.
Wicker Park Connection, Jan. 2016 Design Draft
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WICKER PARK — The massive "Wicker Park Connection" — offering 200 transit-oriented dwellings divided into townhomes, apartments and condos — will be up for a vote in February by members of the Wicker Park Committee.  The public can weigh in at a meeting hosted by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), too.

The largest proposed development for the area in recent memory, the plan would create a maze of homes anchored by retail storefronts and possibly a private school in the 1600 block of West Division Street and the 1200 block of North Milwaukee Avenue.

On Tuesday, members of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development (P&D) Subcommittee voted 4-1 in favor of the Centrum Partners' project, which would span two vacant acres on the neighborhood's southeast end, just west of the CTA Blue Line Division "L" stop.

First introduced in August, the project has Ed Tamminga, chairman of the P&D Committee and other community members, pumped.

"I think it will be an asset to the community. Hopefully they can make it from vision to reality," Tamminga previously said.

The 77,537-square-foot development would be connected by a serpentine-shaped, pedestrian-friendly pathway, with about one-third of the path incorporating open space. 

Katie Martin of Forum Studio, a landscape architect, previously presented examples of sculptures and planters that would double as seating and a water feature, such as a pop-up jet fountain.

The goal of the heavily landscaped open space would be to enhance the area as a safe gathering spot, with security and accent lighting. Currently, many residents walk to and from Milwaukee and Division using the vacant land as a shortcut, but it is not very populated.

Now that the plan has passed muster with the subcommittee, it will go before the Wicker Park Committee's entire membership at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 in the park field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave.

Moreno has not yet announced a date for the public meeting, though a spokesman for Moreno said it will likely be in February.

On Tuesday, Tamminga said that the subcommittee group supports the project because of Centrum Partners'  "commitment to open space," ratio of rentals to ownership units and onsite affordable housing.

The one dissenting vote came from Grant Drutchas, a Wicker Park resident who had concerns over the height of the 15-story, 131-unit apartment tower.

"That size, height mass, right on Division Street, is too big," Drutchas said.

The apartment tower, designed by architect Howard Hirsch, would be 11 stories on the Division-facing side of the building and offer a four-story setback from the street.

In addition to the apartments, the latest plan also includes 17 town homes, and a seven-story, 38-unit condo building.   There would be 76 ground-floor parking spots and 58 basement-level spots dedicated to the development.

Tamminga said that the subcommittee's support of the project is conditional upon the developer agreeing to not allow any of the Wicker Park Connection future residents to get residential permit parking stickers, which could create conflict on side streets where it is already difficult to secure street parking.


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