LINCOLN PARK — Chicago-based developer Blitzlake Partners is betting on the resurgence of Lincoln Avenue: Its plan to build a large apartment complex near the Fullerton "L" stop calls for rents around $2,100 for 650 square feet of space.
The developer briefed neighbors at a community meeting at Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, 2430 N. Halsted St., Wednesday evening on plans to redevelop two existing buildings at 2448 and 2462 N. Lincoln Ave. into four-story modern apartment buildings with ground-floor retail.
Under the proposal, the building at 2448 N. Lincoln Ave. would offer 22 residential units and about 5,000 square feet of retail space, while the building at 2462 N. Lincoln Ave. would offer nine residential units and about 1,200 square feet of retail space.
Retail tenants have not been determined, but the development team said it's looking at companies with "national credit," and are willing to accept lower rent for the right ones.
Operating under the provisions of the city's transit-oriented development ordinance, the project would only offer eight parking spaces due to its proximity to the Fullerton "L" stop. All residents would have access to indoor secure bike parking.
The building at 2448 N. Lincoln Ave., which houses apartments as well as a vapor shop and floral shop Bunches, is designated "orange" in the city's landmark rating system. The rating is the second-highest behind red, and requires an automatic review of a demolition permit by landmarks officials.
After a historical consultant determined that the building is nothing but a "knockoff of a knockoff," the development team is hoping to tear down the "Sullivanesque" building, which resembles famous architect Louis Sullivan's work.
Plus, it's in bad condition, according to Rolando Acosta, an attorney representing the developer.
"It's not in the condition that it can be saved," Acosta told neighbors. "How do you fit modern retail into a facade that doesn't really allow for that?"
Some neighbors said they'd like to see the terra cotta facade preserved no matter if it's a replica or not, because it gives the neighborhood character.
Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, urged the developers to incorporate original elements, saying there is a growing appreciation for "Sullivanesque" structures in the preservation world.
Others like Colin Cordwell, owner of the Red Lion Pub, 2446 N. Lincoln Ave., agreed with the development team's assessment.
"The basement is like the 'Silence of the Lambs,'" Cordwell said. "When I tore down my building, I got rid of half the rat population in the neighborhood. If you tear this one down, you'll get rid of the other half."
Should the team win approval from the community and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), construction likely would start next year — possibly in the spring.
The buildings would offer a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and three-bedrooms, but the majority of the apartments would be one-bedrooms, averaging 650 to 700 square feet of space. Rents for one-bedrooms would start around $2,100, according to the development team.
There would only be five studios, averaging 500 square feet of space. Two-bedrooms would average a little more than 900 square feet of space.
Some neighbors remarked that rent prices — about $3 per square foot — seemed high for the amount of space provided.
"That price point for such a small unit ... that seems really high," said Oliver Stone, a member of the Wrightwood Neighbors Association.
To which Acosta replied, "Millennials are willing to pay higher rents per square foot in premium locations."
He said the team is hoping to draw graduate students and young professionals with entry-level jobs, and they don't expect undergraduate DePaul University students to qualify.
Overall, neighbors agreed that the project could contribute to the revitalization of Lincoln Avenue, which they said has struggled to keep and attract quality businesses.
"That eight-frame is an eyesore, and we do need something. Having those matching buildings is a great idea," Stone said.
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