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Cedar Street Could Bring 710 Units, Grocery and Rooftop Lounge to Broadway

By Josh McGhee | March 29, 2016 9:22am | Updated on March 30, 2016 10:38am
 The former Aon Building, at 5050 N. Broadway.
The former Aon Building, at 5050 N. Broadway.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — The section of Uptown north of the under construction Argyle Streetscape could be home to a "dynamic" new project pending neighborhood approval, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said Tuesday night.

At a community meeting Tuesday held at Furama Restaurant at 4946 N. Broadway real estate developer Cedar Street revealed plans to bring more than 700 apartments, a large gym, a rooftop lounge, ample retail and an outdoor cafe to the 5000 block of North Broadway.

Additional meetings will be scheduled before Osterman takes a vote on the project in April.

Of the 710 new rental units, 107 would be affordable units and the units would be spread evenly across the buildings.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said ensuring that 15 percent of the units would be affordable was important to him and to Osterman.

"I don't think there's been this many affordable units in a project this size in the city," Pawar said.

In April, Cedar Street purchased the Aon Building for $16.1 million. The building at 5050 N. Broadway has 130 residential units situated on floors 2-6 and a 97,500 total square feet, according to the Cedar Street website.

The project, which would be completed in two phases, includes renovating the existing 11-story and six-story structures on the west side of Broadway, along with a parking garage and residential building on the east side of Broadway, said Mark Heffron, a partner with Cedar Street Co.

Studio apartments would make up 40-50 percent of the units, one bedroom apartments would make up about 30-40 percent of the units and the rest of the units would be two-bedroom apartments, Heffron said.

Converting former office spaces into apartments will create a variety of unit sizes and layouts, making it hard to nail down an exact retail price, Heffron said, but the rents should closely mirror market rates: that would put a studio apartment at about $1,100 and a one bedroom apartment at about $1,400.

George Halik, an architect for Booth Hansen who's designing the structures, said the deep floor plans of the Aon building created an "architectural challenge."

"To make this work for residentials you have to make loft units," he said. "It's a variety. Some people like this kind of unit some don't, but you're giving people choices."

All the buildings will follow all follow a similar mid-century modern theme, he said.

The buildings will also feature courtyards and 37,000 square feet of retail space. The retail will not just be for small businesses: it could also house larger tenants, like a grocery store, Halik said.

Cedar Street is "actively recruiting a smaller grocer" with the possibility of "activating the rooftop." The company is also looking at bringing a Heritage Coffee to the lobby with an outdoor patio, Heffron said.

The project will have ample bicycle parking and about 650 parking spaces available for tenants in the parking garage. The parking should be ample for tenants, considering two bedroom apartments or bigger usually attract tenants with cars, Heffron said.


[Courtesy of American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company Records]

"I'm more than confident that we will not come close to filling this garage," he said. Offering extra parking spaces to the public could be an option depending on the building's retail tenants.

The company hopes to begin the first phase of construction by spring 2017. In total, the project is estimated to take about four years to complete, Heffron said.

While Heffron was tight-lipped Tuesday about how much renovations would cost, in April the parent company of FLATS Chicago said it planned to spend as much as $150 million to turn the Aon building into a mixed-use retail and residential development.

The project will be financed entirely through private investment and use no public funding, he said.

After the initial purchase of the building by Cedar Street, community members wondered what would happen to current tenants of the building, including as the Illinois Department of Human Services. The topic came up again Tuesday during the question and answer portion of the meeting.

"They are actively looking for new spaces, one of which is in the ward. They will be operating for at least a year" out of the current space, Heffron said. "We're also seeking to place them in one of our buildings."

As for potential traffic impacts on Broadway, preliminary studies say the garage won't be any fuller than it is now, Heffron said.

Vince Butz, who's lived in Uptown for 10 years, gave his approval for the project as long as it didn't change the diversity of the neighborhood, he said.

"I'm very proud that my community is diverse and I don't want that to go away," Butz said. "I like [the project] in the sense that this is a dead area and they haven't done anything with it since Aon left."

Renderings of the project. [Courtesy of Booth Hansen]

Renderings of the project. [Courtesy of Booth Hansen]

The building at 5050 N. Broadway. [DNAinfo/Josh McGhee]

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