EDISON PARK — Developer Larry Debb trotted out a $90 million plan before the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee Wednesday evening to build 299 luxury micro apartments next to the Marriott Hotel near the Cumberland Blue Line station.
Speaking before a sparse audience at Olympia Park, 6566 N. Avondale Ave., Debb cited surging demand for high-end places to live amid the cluster of hotels, restaurants and office mid-rises near O'Hare Airport.
"A lot of new commercial tenants are moving into this area, and they're asking, 'Where are my employees going to live?'" Debb said during his presentation. "We've realized that there's a need for a high-end apartment building here."
The complex would hug up against Higgins Road just west of Cumberland Avenue, facing the Kennedy Expy. to the south and the border of suburban Park Ridge to the north. It would include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with the cheapest units starting around $1,200 per month.
Another developer had already scored approval to build a mixed-use project with apartments and retail stores on the site, but he backed out in 2015. Last month, Debb entered into a contract with the property owners to put forth his own idea, which strips out the retail and replaces it with more apartments.
"We thought [shops and restaurants] would negatively impact the building and add traffic that we frankly don't want to deal with," Debb said.
The latest plan calls for a full fitness center with an indoor pool and "spa-type facilities," plus an "entertainment area for parties" and a "small private theater." Each apartment unit would be "condo quality," Debb said, with granite countertops and 10-foot ceilings. An adjoining parking garage would have 233 spaces, one for each resident.
But before Debb can start building, his group Glenstar Properties will need permission from city officials to modify the existing zoning.
The proposal won't need a full zoning change, however, meaning that the decision falls out of Ald. Anthony Napolitano's (41st) hands. Still, Debb offered to tweak the proposal based on the advisory council's suggestions.
"It's a small amendment, and we'd just need approval from the Chicago Plan Commission and the City Council," Debb said after the meeting. "But we wanted to bring it to the community first. Obviously we wouldn't want to do it if everyone in the neighborhood hated it."
The developer hired outside research groups to study the building's potential impact on traffic and school overcrowding, two surefire areas of concern for any new residential development on the Far Northwest Side.
The report on the former estimates that the building would "not have a significant impact on area roadways." After all, Debb added, his proposal would cause less congestion than the retail project that had already been approved.
As for school overcrowding, researchers found that no more than 16 school-age children were likely to live inside the building, Debb said.
"What we've seen is that these young kids get married, get an apartment, they have a child ... and they move out right away before their kids come of age," Debb said during the presentation. "And then we find that a lot of people who are paying this kind of money would send their kids to parochial or private schools."
In addition to the three acres of land marked for the apartment building, Debb is also under contract to develop seven acres just west of the hotel. That land will host one or two office towers, but Debb is waiting for potential tenants to come forward before he starts planning them, he said.
Debb said he hopes to begin building the apartments by "late spring."
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