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Jefferson Park 'Gateway' Apartments One Step Closer To Approval

By  Alex Nitkin and Heather Cherone | February 16, 2017 12:49pm 

 A rendering of the 51-foot mixed-use building planned for 5201 W. Lawrence Ave. in Jefferson Park
A rendering of the 51-foot mixed-use building planned for 5201 W. Lawrence Ave. in Jefferson Park
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45th Ward Office

CITY HALL — A proposal to build a four-story mixed-use apartment building in the heart of Jefferson Park was unanimously approved by the Chicago Plan Commission Thursday, setting the stage for construction to begin this spring.

The project at 5201 W. Lawrence Ave., proposed in 2015 as part of a "grand gateway" to the neighborhood, would sit 39 apartment units on top of a full floor of retail space, with 62 combined parking spaces for residents and shoppers.

More than a decade after a proposed 10-story tower was rejected for the site, 45th Ward Ald. John Arena invited developer Jefferson Park Residences LLC to take a second look at the location, he said.

"People said they didn't want 10 stories right next to single-family bungalows, but then you've got the Copernicus Center right across the street," Arena said in January. "So we got together and said, why not create a happy medium between the two, using the existing zoning as a guide?"

The Lawrence Avenue building is one of three multiunit residential projects near the Jefferson Park Transit Center that is poised to start construction this spring. A plan to build 48 units at Argyle Street and Long Avenue was approved by the City Council in December, and the commission will hear a proposal for a 15-story apartment tower at 4849 N. Lipps Ave. in March.

Speaking at City Hall on Thursday, Arena said he was "excited to have gotten to this point."

"This is the first piece of the plan to revitalize the Jefferson Park gateway and the entire neighborhood," Arena said.

Even though the Lawrence Avenue project won't require a zoning change to move forward, it still needs final approval from the City Council during its next full meeting in March. Construction is likely to begin in late April or early May, according to Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff.