EDGEWATER — Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said he will support the redevelopment of a former substance abuse treatment center on Ridge Avenue into nine condos and retail space, which will require the city to approve a zoning change.
A meeting was held last week at the 5691 N. Ridge Ave. site — a small complex of buildings last used by Community Counseling Centers of Chicago before it closed at the end of 2014.
Of the handful of residents who attended the meeting and voted on the project, five supported the building, while two opposed and two others abstained from voting. The proposal had already earned support from the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce and nearby block clubs.
"Based on support from residents who attended the meeting and from local community groups, I will be supporting the zoning change," Osterman told residents Friday in a weekly email update.
Developer Frances Kao of PH2 Square presented plans for the four-story project, which includes a "universal design" — a model that outfits buildings so people of all physical abilities can easily access their homes.
The proposal includes nine units between 1,300-1,600-square-feet to be sold in the $400,000 range, at least nine parking spaces and about 3,400-square-feet of ground-floor retail space. A public green space would also be added.
Developers said they hoped the building could revitalize the area, as well as slow the ongoing flow of traffic along Ridge.
She hopes her building, in particular the retail, would help make the area around Ridge Avenue more pedestrian-friendly and attract a strong enough commercial tenant — such as an upscale cafe — to differentiate from the few other storefronts on the street, such as a Walgreen's, laundromat and liquor store.
Some residents expressed skepticism, saying the area was already oversaturated with boutique cafes or empty storefronts on nearby Broadway or Bryn Mawr, but Kao said she believed her building's design would draw viable retailers and that she was willing to be flexible with tenants.
They would seek out local business owners, not chains or late-night establishments, Kao said.
Her building, and the renovation of a former firehouse across the street to be used by Chicago Filmmakers, will add vibrancy and personality to Ridge, Kao said.
If approved by the City Council, the project could increase traffic on Ridge Avenue — a busy thoroughfare used by commuters as well as neighborhood residents.
Construction would also impact surrounding streets, though Kao said she would try to keep the impact to a minimum.
If the zoning change is approved, Kao said her goal is to begin construction in August and complete the building within 1½ years.
The current building, formerly a substance abuse treatment center. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
The building's facade as seen from Ridge Avenue. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]