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30 Apartments Pitched Near Western Blue Line Stop On Edge Of Bucktown

By Alisa Hauser | June 22, 2016 2:18pm
 A proposed 4-story, 30-unit apartment building at 1667 N. Western Ave.
A proposed 4-story, 30-unit apartment building at 1667 N. Western Ave.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN — A four-story, 30-unit apartment building is in the works along Western Avenue near the CTA Blue Line Western L stop, it was announced on Tuesday.

"This area needs a little finesse. As you know, these two corners are not attractive," Gene Bernshtam told members of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development subcommittee on Tuesday.

Bernshtam, a used car dealer whose parents started Berns Auto Sales in 1980, wants to demolish a small one-story building that is home to his wife's real estate company at 1667 N. Western Ave. and build a 4-story structure at that site. His dealership is across the street at 1700 N. Western Ave.

Pipeworks Brewery, at 1675 N. Western Ave., located at the southeast corner of Wabansia and Western Avenues and next to the real estate office, has been Bern's tenant since the craft brewery was launched in 2011.

Talks of expanding Pipeworks to a second larger spot on the same corner have been ongoing, Bernshtam said.

"To rent to retail on Western is notoriously difficult. Pipeworks is interested. We've been talking for two years about a brewery and a restaurant," Bernshtam said of the 6,310 square-foot retail space at the base of the building that he hopes Pipeworks will consider as suitable for its expansion.

Gerrit Lewis, co-owner of the acclaimed Pipeworks Brewery, which added another location on the West Side last year, was not at Tuesday's meeting in the park's field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave.

"We are looking to expand on Western Avenue but are not committed to that building at this time," Lewis said.

Ed Tamminga, chairman of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development subcommittee, said that the five members of the group who were present on Tuesday all voted to support the plan.

Tamminga joked that the Wicker Park group's only real objection was the fact that the building was dubbed, at least in a rendering, as "Bucktown Gateway."  

That area of Western Avenue, between North Avenue and the Bloomingdale Trail, is claimed by both Bucktown and Wicker Park boosters, the latter saying that Bucktown begins at North Avenue and the former claiming it starts at the Bloomingdale Trail.

Designed by architect Bill Kokalias, the building would offer 3 one-bedroom apartments, 21 one-bedroom units with a den, 3 two-bedrooms and 3 three-bedrooms, according to a rendering.

There would be parking spaces for 25 cars and 30 bikes onsite, Kokalias said.

Bernshtam said that he will comply with the city's Affordable Requirements Ordinance and allocate 10-percent, or 3 apartments, to renters eligible for affordable housing.

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