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12-Story Condo Tower Plan Gets Mixed Feedback from Noble Square Neighbors

By Alisa Hauser | September 23, 2016 9:49am
 Photos from a community meeting on Sept. 22, 2016 to discuss a proposed 12-story, 32-unit condo tower at 1210 N. Bosworth Ave. in Noble Square.
Proposed Condos at 1210 N. Bosworth Ave. in Noble Square
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NOBLE SQUARE — Developer Rob Buono's plan to build a contemporary glass and metal-paneled tower offering 32 condos on a side street behind Milwaukee Avenue got mixed reaction at a Thursday community meeting.

The tower, which would be built on what's now the Fifth Third Bank parking lot at 1210 N. Bosworth St., would "orient" toward Milwaukee Avenue, Buono told a crowd of about 40 residents at a public meeting hosted by 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins at Near North Montessori School.

Mostly three-bedroom condos — save for a one-bedroom unit on the second floor — the homes would range between 2,518 and 3,331 square feet and cost $900,000 to $1.5 million, Buono said.

A partially below ground 53-spot parking garage next to the tower would also function as the building's lawn and offer some landscaping atop the concrete structure, renderings show.

Buono said the condos, designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, would likely increase surrounding home values.

Mitch Hutton, who lives near the proposed tower, objected to its modern design.

"We don't want an eyesore in our neighborhood. It's not comparable to most existing supply," Hutton said. Another neighbor, Linda Strbich, described the tower as "a monster."

Scott Rappe, an East Village resident and architect, challenged some of the neighbors' statements that they'd rather see Buono construct a building that mimics the area's several 1890s-era Queen Victorian homes and multiunit apartments.

"We do not want faux vintage character, we want real character. It is set back and has open space. The architects have done a good job of orienting the site. This is an inspired solution that is 2016, not 1892," Rappe said.

At 12 stories, the building would tower over the northern end of the Polish Triangle, where on the opposite side, Buono's firm, Henry Street Partners, and Wheeler Kearns built the city's first transit-oriented apartment building, 11 stories and 99 units at 1611 W. Division St.

Gretchen Vermeulen, who lives two blocks from the proposed tower, said, "I think they did a nice job with green space. It has potential." 

Vermeulen said she wants to see a traffic study of the impact on already congested streets.

Buono said that as a Wicker Park resident, he knows how bad traffic can be near the Milwaukee, Ashland and Division intersection.

Elsewhere in the city, Buono is completing Logan Square's "Twin Towers" on Milwaukee Avenue, two high-density apartment buildings. Buono told meeting attendees that he also helped develop Willow Court, a string of Bucktown town homes along the 606.

As part of the Bosworth tower project, Buono also is planning to redevelop Fifth Third Bank at 1209 N. Milwaukee Ave., which would remain open during the remodeling.

At the end of the nearly two-hour gathering, the alderman said he has not made a decision about supporting the condo tower.

"I've heard a considerable amount of opposition that seems reasonable, and I've heard some support for it that makes sense, too. [The project] is clearly not ready for approval," Hopkins said.

Hopkins added, "I will continue to solicit input."

After the meeting, Buono said that he did not know when the project would start if it gets approved.

"It's still going through the community process," Buono said.