JEFFERSON PARK — A proposal that will transform a long-vacant former concrete company storage facility across the street from the Jefferson Park Transit Center into a 48-unit apartment complex won the endorsement of a City Council committee Tuesday.
First proposed in 2014, the proposal near Argyle Street and Long Avenue became a flashpoint in the 2015 45th Ward aldermanic election and triggered a fierce debate over whether Jefferson Park should remain a suburban-like haven or allow denser developments near transit hubs and business districts.
However, Ron Ernst of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association said the development would not be a "good fit for the neighborhood" because it is too dense.
"This is about greed," Ernst said.
However, Arena has said the project is appropriate because it has "direct access to transit" and will "appeal to young professionals looking for quick access to the Loop and O'Hare."
While opponents of the of the two 3½-story 24-unit apartment buildings said it would destroy the fabric of their single-family neighborhood, supporters said it would give the struggling Jefferson Park Business District a boost by increasing the area's density.
The two-bedroom apartments are expected to rent for between $1,600 and $1,900 per month. If approved by city officials, five of the apartments would be set aside for low-income residents, as required by the city's affordable housing ordinance.
The project includes 48 parking spots and two guest spots on the ground floor. That is more parking than is required because the project's proximity to the transit center means it qualifies as a transit-oriented development, according to city law.
Before the housing crisis in 2008, seven single-family homes were planned for the site. Under the current rules governing the property, only 18 apartments could be built.
There are blocks of single-family homes north and northeast of the proposed development, with apartment complexes close by on Northwest Highway.
A community meeting about the project in May turned contentious, with Bob Bank, president of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, warning Arena that the project would "wreck" the neighborhood by making it impossible to find a parking spot and snarling traffic.
That decision must be approved by the full City Council, which is scheduled to hold its next regular meeting Dec. 14.