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Logan Rental Project Faces Opposition: 'We're Turning Streets Into Canyons'

By Mina Bloom | November 11, 2016 11:13am
 The latest renderings of the project at 1980 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The latest renderings of the project at 1980 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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LOGAN SQUARE — It's back to the drawing board for Clayco, a developer that wants to build an eight-story apartment building with mostly studio and convertible units at the southwest corner of Milwaukee and Armitage avenues

Most of the few dozen neighbors who packed into Campbell Terrace Apartments, 2061 N. Campbell St., for a community meeting Thursday evening opposed the the developer's revised proposal, saying the transit-oriented development is simply too big for the neighborhood.

"I am really, really concerned about the density [and] the height," said Sally Hamann, a member of the Greather Goethe Neighborhood Association. "We're going to be turning these streets into canyons."

Clayco is seeking a zoning change to build the project — its first in Chicago — on a lot at 1980 N. Milwaukee Ave. that has been vacant for at least 15 years.

Since it was first proposed in July, the developer has agreed to incorporate the facade of the historic Weyland Building, add more setbacks from the street so the building doesn't appear as tall and add more retail space after hearing from neighbors.

Despite the changes, the West Bucktown Neighborhood Association still doesn't support the height.

"The one thing we can't get past is the size of the building," said Rodney Gansho, chairman of the association's zoning, planning and development committee. "It's a big building. People brought up MiCa ... that's a stand-alone tower. It's got a lot of open space around it. This is part of the streetscape. We fully support the building at six stories, but we couldn't support eight stories."

But Alan Schachtman, principal at Clayco, told neighbors the project isn't financially feasible at six stories.

"I'd be happy to do it at six if it worked," Schachtman said. "When I say work, we have to get financing. There are certain underwriting standards that banks follow to get financing. If you tell me today six stories, I'm not going to get anyone to finance it, and we're done."

The proposal calls for just 17 parking spaces in back. Since the project is just steps away from the Western Blue Line station, it falls under the transit-oriented development ordinance, which means fewer parking spaces are required.

More than half of the 132 apartments would be studios and convertible units, and the rest would be one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms.

Rents would start at $1,400 for studios offering 485 square feet of space; around $2,000 for one-bedrooms offering 700 square feet of space; and around $3,000 for two-bedrooms offering 1,000 square feet of space.

Clayco intends to reserve 13 units in the project for affordable housing and build an additional six affordable units off-site. The developer is planning to rehab a nearby six-flat in the neighborhood as an extension of the project.

Fielding questions about why most of the units aren't geared toward families, Schachtman stressed that the proposal fits the demographics of the area, which is mostly singles and couples.

"We are building to the market. There are problems when you build units that sit empty," he said.

The vacant lot is owned by a California woman who bought it as a land-banking opportunity and has been waiting for the right buyer for a long time, according to Raymond Valadez, chief of staff for 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno.

Valadez said the land is "long overdue to be redeveloped."

"Milwaukee Avenue ... what's the condition over the last 10 or 15 years? It's been very underdeveloped. The commercial district has really been hurting. Now that's changing. How do you change that? By bringing people in the community who have the buying power to support it," Valadez said.

The latest rendering of the project incorporates the Weyland Building facade. [All photos/Provided]

The architect drew design inspiration from nearby buildings like the one that houses Margie's Candies.

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