UPTOWN — Truman Square Neighbors overwhelmingly approved a zoning change that could change the heart of Uptown.
Eighty-six neighbors voted in favor of the zoning change from from B3-2 to B3-5, while only nine voted against. The vote would allow developers to bring an 11-story, 197-unit building to the northeast corner of Wilson Avenue and Broadway, pending approval from the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee, which will meet next week.
After a community meeting last week, residents were given until Wednesday night to voice their approval or disapproval of the project from Praedium Developments. The zoning change would affect the two buildings that currently house Family Dollar, Rainbow Shops, City Sports and Wilson Optical.
Thursday afternoon, employees at the businesses that could be affected said they were not sure what the development could mean for them.
Employees at Wilson Optical, 1056 W. Wilson Ave., learned of the proposal July 15 and said they are planning to head to the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee meeting next week to see what can be done, "but as far as having to move, we're not thrilled," said manager Dorel Janski.
Janski said the store had been on the corner for more than 20 years.
If the development is approved, the store may move into its smaller location near Broadway and Foster Avenue, but it'll be a tight squeeze, said Janski.
The company would hope to return to the corner, but "it's going to take a long time in between," she said.
The proposed new building would include ground-floor retail areas with a mix of businesses similar in size to the current layout. Those retail areas are of interest to the owners of Wilson Optical and City Gold.
Joey Oh has owned City Gold inside City Sports, 4601 N. Broadway, for 18 years. He has "already prepared" for the possibility of the building going under construction and said he's OK with developing the area."
"Why not?" he said. "It could be better than it is right now."
Next door, workers at discount clothing store Rainbow said they knew little about the development, but their main concern is the loss of jobs, said Jessica, a manager at the store who declined to give her last name.
"A lot of people will probably lose their jobs. A lot of people are going to be affected, and the way the economy is, they won't be replaced easily," she said.
The store has about 10 staff members — half from the neighborhood — and would likely close if the changes occurred, said Jessica, who said she's worked at the store for about three years.