[45th Ward Office]
JEFFERSON PARK — A 12-story tower set to be built on what is now vacant land in the heart of the Jefferson Park Business District could grow from 12 stories to 13 stories based on the recommendation of city officials, Ald. John Arena (45th) said.
In order to complement the adjacent Jefferson Park Transit Center, the city's planning department has recommended the northern end of the building at 4849 N. Lipps Ave. be lowered to allow the building to "step down" to the transit center, Arena said.
In order to build approximately the same number of apartments, shops and parking spaces, the building's southern end at Ainslie Street and Lipps Avenue would be raised, creating a 13th story, Arena said.
Arena said the change would not be significant, since it would still fit in with the height of the nearby 10-story Veterans Square office building and the Copernicus Center. The proposed building would be buffered from nearby residents by the Kennedy Expressway, Metra railroad tracks and the transit center, the alderman said.
City officials are also considering reducing the number of parking spaces in the building's garage to allow more apartments to be built, Arena said. That suggestion was made at the community meeting held in October on the project.
The original plan called for 96 apartments and a 265-unit parking garage, which would be used during the day by shoppers and tenants of Veterans Square and at night by the Copernicus Center, which often hosts concerts and other events that draw large crowds.
Arena said he favored building more apartments and reducing the number of parking spots in the garage, as long as all of the needs were met.
The project needs special permission from city officials, since the property, which has been vacant for more than a decade, was once home to a cement mixing firm. It must be rezoned to allow people to live there, officials said.
Critics of the project say it is too big, too tall and too dense for Jefferson Park, where most residents live in single-family homes or two-flat apartment buildings.
Arena has said the project strikes the "right balance" and will help revitalize the Jefferson Park Business District.
The development at Ainslie Street and Lipps Avenue is one of two major developments in Jefferson Park working their way through the city's approval process.
[45th Ward Office]
The Jefferson Park Gateway Project, which would build 39 apartments, a public plaza and nearly a dozen shops at 5161 W. Lawrence Ave. and 5201 W. Lawrence Ave. is expected to be considered by the city's Zoning Board of Appeals on March 18, Arena said.
In November, the City Council agreed to sell a piece of city-owned property worth $530,000 for $1 to Mega Realty, one of the area's largest landowners.
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