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Neighbors 'Up In Arms' Over Plan To Replace Big Parking Garage With Condos

By Mina Bloom | June 28, 2016 5:44am
 Buddy's parking garage, 2038-40 N. Clark St.
Buddy's parking garage, 2038-40 N. Clark St.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LINCOLN PARK — Some neighbors are "up in arms" over a plan to tear down a big parking garage on Clark Street and replace it with million-dollar condominiums, but the developer contends that the new development will be a "beautiful addition" to the neighborhood.

The development proposal calls for a 65-foot-tall, 10-unit condo building at 2038-40 N. Clark St., a site currently occupied by Buddy's parking garage. The plan includes 28 parking spaces on the ground floor, which is down from the 225 the garage currently offers, according to the garage's website. 

Condo prices would range from $1 million to $3 million, according to Robert Krupa, the property owner and developer.

Some neighbors argue that countless residents in the area depend on the garage, which they say is the only one of its kind on the busy, tourist-heavy stretch.

They said it's almost always full, while Krupa said it's usually only at 60 percent capacity. The usage patterns of the garage couldn't be verified by DNAinfo Chicago, as a representative from Buddy's parking garage couldn't be immediately reached.

"The loss of that garage would have a disastrous impact on the quality of life and property values in the neighborhood," said neighbor Roche Schulfer in an email. 

"The high tourist traffic in the summer now includes the winter lights festival at the zoo as well as the ongoing farmer's market and zoo," he added.

Krupa said while he's requesting zoning variance approval from Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) to build the luxury condos, he doesn't need approval to tear down the garage.

"The parking garage is going away. Nothing can change that," Krupa said. "We paid a lot of money for this property. The taxes are now triple."

After fielding requests from neighbors, Krupa said his team is planning to save the building's historic facade, which dates back to the early 1930s. 

"We could tear down this structure and put up 30 cheap units, but we're not doing that," he said. "We're doing this because we're really considering the neighbors and what they'll be looking for and what the value of their property is going to be. We kept that very much in mind."

Mid-North Association, the impacted neighborhood group, approved the project, according to Smith.

Laura Slubowski, who manages a historic building across the street at 2000 N. Lincoln Park West, said losing the garage will "negatively impact all of the buildings around [there] that don't have their own garage." 

She estimates that at least half of the 195 tenants in her building pay for monthly passes to park in the garage.

"There's nothing else around here," Slubowski said. "People are up in arms about it." 

This isn't the first time this decade a proposal has been submitted for the site. In 2011, a previous owner wanted to replace the garage with a storage facility, but neighbors were so opposed to the project that Smith, a freshman alderman at the time, did not end up granting the change, neighbors said.

If Krupa gets zoning approval, he is aiming to begin construction in October and plans to finish the project in a year. Renderings of the project were not immediately available.

"It's going to be a beautiful addition to the neighborhood," he said.

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