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Herdegen Funeral Home Plans Swell To Five-Story, Two-Building Complex

By Ariel Cheung | February 17, 2017 5:37am
 A massive mixed-use development is proposed for the former Herdegen Funeral Home and an adjacent vacant parking lot.
Herdegen Funeral Home Proposal
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LAKEVIEW — What was initially proposed as a modest one-floor addition to the former Herdegen Funeral Home would now involve a second building that reaches five stories tall under new plans proposed this week.

Developers with Spring Bank Six Corners group want to add two floors of condos to the two-story Herdegen Funeral Home, 1356 W. Wellington Ave., adding a contemporary design with limestone and brick elements.

Across the alley at 3015 N. Southport Ave., the project would add a five-story condo building with enclosed parking on the first floor and the top two floors set back from the street.

Neighbors railed against the new plans, voting 33-7 against recommending the zoning change to Ald. Scott Waguespack (33rd). Developers acquiesced, promising to consider tweaks to the contemporary building material, set-back upper levels and street-facing balconies before seeking approval from the alderman.

Baffled by the expansion to what was first proposed in 2015, neighbors asked Tuesday what had changed.

"We were all under the impression we knew what it was going to be, and now you're saying, 'Well, we're not doing that,'" said Amy Rosenwasser, a member of the group's board. "That building has sat there, basically an eyesore, for some time, so why can't you do what you started?"

Developers said the Herdegen lot alone didn't have room for adequate parking. Without building on the Southport Avenue lot, they wouldn't be able to use it as a parking lot, according to project attorney Tyler Manic.

Rendering for 3015 N. Southport Ave. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

An aerial view of the site, with the Herdegen Funeral Home in blue and the lot at 3015 N. Southport Ave. in red, across from St. Alphonsus Church at Southport, Lincoln and Wellington. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

Some said they saw the changes as a money grab, but developers said it was important to build something that fit in with the neighborhood.

"We're in it to make money, but we're also trying to do something special," said David Trandel, founder of Spring Bank Six Corners.

Trandel touted his successes redeveloping historic buildings that became the JW Marriott and the Residence Inn Downtown, both of which he worked on as an executive with the Chicago-based Prime Group Inc.

"We have a history at Spring Bank of really [looking at] how do we do something integral to the community with adaptive reuses of what are generally very important buildings," Trandel said. "We have this commitment to finding a repurposing for a great structure."

The project would offer eight condos in the Southport building and another seven above the funeral home, which is on the northeast corner of Southport, Lincoln and Wellington.

The Herdegen building would have retail on its first two floors, with developers expecting to lease space to a mattress retailer, a pizza restaurant and a daycare center with an enclosed playground on the second floor.

Renderings show the elevation of the two buildings at 3015 N. Southport Ave. (left) and 1356 W. Wellington Ave., formerly the Herdegen Funeral Home. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

It would also have five parking spaces, plus 10 enclosed parking spaces and five covered spaces on the first floor of the Southport building.

Condos would have around 16,500 square feet of space on Southport, mostly likely as three-bedroom units with two bathrooms. Units above the Herdegen building will be between 1,049 and 1,633 square feet each, with either two or three bedrooms.

Renderings show floor plans for the former Herdegen Funeral Home and the two floors of condominiums above it. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

Designs for 3015 N. Southport Ave. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

Glass railings, brick facades and limestone that plays off the Herdegen's terra cotta features "really tie the two buildings together," said Mark Kluemper, senior project manager for OKW Architects.

"It's a building that blends into the neighborhood, respects the existing architecture and is appropriately scaled to be a good neighbor," Kluemper said, adding that city and federal guidelines recommend contemporary additions to classic or historic architecture.

Samples of the materials OKW Architects recommends for the two-building complex planned for the former Herdegen Funeral Home. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

Architects designed an weaved pattern of bricks with ivy to hide the first-floor garage at 3015 N. Southport Ave. [Provided/South Lakeview Neighbors]

"Matching or copying is discouraged by most historic standards," he said. "It's meant to be a contrast."

Several neighbors, including Heritage Bicycles owner Mike Salvatore, said they appreciated development along the struggling Lincoln Avenue and hoped more residents would sustain the businesses on the deteriorating street.

"From the retail side, we suffer from a lack of density," Salvatore said. "As a group here, it's hard to keep rejecting density and thinking Lincoln Avenue is going to change."

Developers need a zoning change on the two lots to build an extra four feet above the 50-foot maximum height currently allowed and to build bigger condos.

Developers said they remained undecided on whether to include affordable housing units in the buildings or opt for the $100,000 payment required per unit into a city affordable housing fund. Chicago requires at least 10 percent of projects with more than 10 units be sold as affordable housing.

When the Herdegen property was sold in late 2014, one of the seller's requirements was to keep the funeral home building intact. Built in the 1930s, the late Gothic building has potentially significant architecture, although it is not a historic landmark, city records show.

Designed by Olsen & Urbain, its terra cotta features and red brick masonry is matched by another Chicago structure from the duo of architects: The Tremont Hotel in Gold Coast.