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Plan for 48 Apartments Near Jeff Park Transit Center Revived, Alderman Says

 Revised plans for the 48-unit apartment call for the two buildings to be three stories rather than four, officials said.
Revised plans for the 48-unit apartment call for the two buildings to be three stories rather than four, officials said.
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45th Ward Office

JEFFERSON PARK — Plans to transform a former concrete company storage facility across the street from the Jefferson Park Transit Center into a 48-unit apartment complex have been revived, Ald. John Arena (45th) said Thursday.

Intense opposition to the development of what is now a vacant lot near Argyle Street and Long Avenue prompted Arena to ask the developer, American Colony Homes, to revise the project, which opponents said was too dense, too tall and too close to single-family homes.

Nearly two years after it was first proposed — and more than a year after it became a flashpoint in the 45th Ward aldermanic election — the project has been revised to be one story shorter, said Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff.

A community meeting to discuss the project is set for 6:30 p.m. May 16 at 5051 W. Gunnison St., Brugh said.

The number of apartments has not been reduced from the initial proposal, which prompted opponents to launch a petition drive in an effort to convince Arena to scuttle the project, which needs special permission from city officials to be built.

If approved by the Plan Commission, five of the apartments would be set aside for low-income residents, as required by the city's affordable housing ordinance.

The project calls for two 3½-story apartment buildings to be built on property once owned by Cowhey Materials & Fuel Co. and used as a storage yard. The property has been empty for at least 20 years.

The apartments — which would all feature two bedrooms — would each have a designated indoor parking space. Two guest spots would also be built, even though the project's proximity to the transit center means it is not required include any parking spots.

There are blocks of single-family homes north and northeast of the proposed development, with apartment complexes close by on Northwest Highway.

Before the 2008 housing crisis, seven single-family homes were set to be built on the land.

The Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, which has a policy of opposing all developments that require a zoning change to increase their density, urged Arena to reject the project when it was first proposed, saying it would set a bad precedent for other developments in the area.

Arena has often touted his support for projects that give people an opportunity to live near mass transit hubs and business districts, such as the one that surrounds the Jefferson Park Transit Center. It has been plagued with empty storefronts.

The apartment complex near the transit center is similar to those Arena has supported in the past, including two other apartment complexes within walking distance of the transit center. If all three projects are built in Jefferson Park, it would add 190 apartments to the business district.

Arena, who vowed to make the revitalization of the Jefferson Park Business District his highest priority after winning re-election in April, has said the key to revitalizing neighborhood shopping districts — like the one in Jefferson Park centered at Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues — is to increase the amount of people living there to attract the shops and restaurants that will benefit the entire community.

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