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Clarendon Montrose Development Receives Approval From Finance Committee

 The $121 million development has been in negotiations with the City's Department of Planning for months, Cappleman said.
The $121 million development has been in negotiations with the City's Department of Planning for months, Cappleman said.
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Courtesy of JDL Development and Harlem Irving

CITY HALL — The Finance Committee approved plans Tuesday to develop a luxury apartment building in the Clarendon/Montrose Tax Increment Financing District using $15.8 million in TIF funds.

The approval brings the proposal just one step away from proceeding. The proposal will head to City Council for full approval Wednesday.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) and Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) all voiced opposition to the plan before the vote, but Harris eventually voted in favor of the proposal.

The final vote was 18 yes votes and two no votes.

The project is being developed by Montrose Clarendon Partners LLC, which was created specifically for the project. The LLC is owned James Letchinger, of JDL Development, and Harlem Irving Companies.

 A rendering of a proposed mixed-use development located at the corner of North CLarendon and West Montrose avenues, in the Clarendon/Montrose TIF district.
A rendering of a proposed mixed-use development located at the corner of North CLarendon and West Montrose avenues, in the Clarendon/Montrose TIF district.
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Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture

JDL Developments submitted its original proposal for the two properties in the 4400 block of North Clarendon Avenue in 2012. That proposal generated controversy over the large amount of TIF funding allocated for the project and the small amount of affordable housing offered.

"If a developer wants to develop luxury units on the lakefront, albeit a tough corner we should not be extending TIF funds. I don't see this as being in the public's interest," Osterman said at the meeting.

The Clarendon Montrose TIF District was created in 2010 to foster development near Clarendon Park. The 31-acre district "is characterized by vacant institutional buildings, public open spaces and community facilities" with no tax-generating properties in the district when it was formed, according to the City of Chicago website.

"I'm familiar with this site. I'm also familiar with everything north of here all the way to Evanston and I don't think there will be another development on Lakefront land in the next 15-20 years, so this site is going to be marketed as the last piece of the Lakefront developed," Osterman said.

There are developers in the neighborhood financing developments themselves without TIF funds and they're committing to build affordable units on site, he said.

Earlier this year, Cedar Street announced plans to redevelop several buildings in the 5000 block of North Broadway. Though the project was controversial, Osterman and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) approved the project citing the developers commitment to making 15-percent of the units affordable, which is 5 percent more than what is required.

"Uptown ... is a blended diverse community of multi-incomes. I find it incredibly troubling given the financial situation that we're in with CPS and all places that we're going to use TIF funds for luxury units," Osterman said.

The approved proposal includes redevelopment of the property on the west side of Clarendon Avenue into a 26-story mixed-use building with 381 residential units, a grocery store and 278 parking spaces.

Five percent of the units in the building — amounting to 20 total units — will be affordable units, with half of those units reserved for households earning less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income, according to a report from the Department of Planning and Development.

The property on the east side of Clarendon Avenue will include a one-story building with retail space with 11 exterior parking spaces. The total project will cost an estimated $125,044,198, and the TIF financing would make up about 12.7 percent of the total cost, the report said.

Market-rate studio apartments would cost $1,688, 1-bedroom apartments would cost $2,079 and 2-bedroom apartments would cost $2,637. The project is estimated to created 550-675 constructions jobs, according to the report.

Tuesday afternoon, a parade of activist from ONE Northside, Northside Action for Justice, Friends of Cuneo, Uptown Tent City and Uptown People's Law Center showed up at City Hall and voiced their disapproval for the project, saying it would further ethnic and economic segregation.

 A rendering of JDL's proposed development.
A rendering of JDL's proposed development.
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46th Ward Office

Members of the 46th Ward Zoning and Development committee, which had already approved the development after a similar debate with advocates in December 2015, also voiced their support for the development citing the vacant property had become a site for drug dealers and home to a pack of wolves for a brief period. Among the approving voices was real estate agent Mark Zipperer and Osterman's former Director of Economic Development and Communications Sarah Dinges, who is now the president of Uptown United.

The TIF proposals came across Cappleman's desk less a month after he took office in 2012 and he rejected original proposals "based on input from the 46th Ward residents," he said.

In July of 2014, JDL announced it was redesigning its plan after pushback on several issues related to affordable housing, historic preservation and TIF funding. In 2015, JDL Development struck a deal with the owner of the Maryville Academy site that moved "the project forward," said Tressa Feher, chief of staff for Cappleman, though the criticism continued.

The development is in along an income tract, where the annual median income is $18,976, or the bottom four percent of all incomes tracts. Eighty-seven-percent of the housing stock in the tract has rents under $700 "due to the high amount of government subsidized housing that exists" in the area, he said.

"During the Process JDL made numerous revisions to address the concerns of neighbors. Over the years since, residents have continued to communicate their desire to see the proposal move forward," Cappleman said.

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