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Developer Floats New Pilsen 'ParkWorks' Development On 8-Acre Site

By Stephanie Lulay | April 24, 2017 5:27pm | Updated on April 26, 2017 11:52am
 A prominent developer wants to build
A prominent developer wants to build "ParkWorks," a mixed-use residential and commercial development at Pilsen's largest vacant site, though the property is currently zoned for industrial use only.
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Property Markets Group

PILSEN — Despite an alderman's efforts to block residences on Pilsen's largest vacant site last year, a prominent developer has unveiled new plans for the parcel.

Property Markets Group now aims to develop "ParkWorks," a mixed-use residential and commercial development next to the planned Paseo Trail that is "guided by social responsibility," according to a new promotional video released in English and Spanish. 

The new renderings come after Property Markets Group bought the vacant 7.85-acre site between 16th and 18th streets and Newberry Avenue and Peoria Street​ in January. 

In addition to new residences, the development will try to bring new business, resident amenities and an art walk project on Peoria Street, according to the video. It also will have public courtyards, rooftop gardens and solar panels. 

The developer's video says its affordable housing units will help keep rent costs down across Pilsen. The video does not say what percentage of affordable apartments are planned on-site. 

A rendering shows what the ParkWorks development in Pilsen could look like. [Property Markets Group]

A site plan shows what the ParkWorks development in Pilsen could look like. [Property Markets Group]

The video also doesn't reveal how tall the proposed development would be or how many residential units would be planned, but it does say the site would be "less dense" than neighboring blocks in Pilsen. Property Markets Group's Noah Gottlieb did not immediately return calls Monday.

If approved, two-thirds of property employees will be staffed from within the neighborhood and one-third of retail workers at the new development will be hired from Pilsen, according to the video. The development could also create local construction jobs. 

The proposal includes about 10,000 square feet of retail space, which could employ as many as 100 people, Gottlieb told Curbed.

Watch the developer's full pitch video below. 

ParkWorks Development for Chicago from Architizer on Vimeo.

Zoning hurdle  

Despite new renderings, it remains unclear how Gottlieb plans to develop residential properties at the site with its current zoning, or if he is working to rezone the property.

In a feud over development at the site that borders University Village, 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis succeeded in rezoning the property to its original industrial use last summer, blocking a previously planned residential development by Property Markets Group. 

Solis, who serves as chairman of the City Council's Committee on Zoning, said the zoning change would allow time for the community to develop the best plan for the 7.85-acre site. After the developer bought the site, Solis said he hasn't changed his mind on the site's zoning. 

"I'm not going to rezone it for them to do a residential development, not without concessions," Solis said. "It's probably the biggest space now that's available in all of Pilsen, and I want to make sure that we do something exceptional there, not just allow a developer to build a bunch of units there, make money and leave." 

RELATED: Developer Buys Giant 8-Acre Pilsen Site For Housing; Alderman Promises A Fight

Solis made the move to rezone the property after the developer announced in April that it would develop the property without a zoning change, potentially building 300 apartments there. 

The developer came to that decision after the Pilsen Land Use Committee rejected its plan to build 500 apartments at the site in February. The sticking point that led the committee to deny the 500-unit project was Pilsen's stringent affordable housing mandate, which requires any development of eight or more units that requires a zoning change to provide 21 percent affordable housing. 

Solis said any new plan for the site must include more than 21 percent affordable housing and be less dense than the 500-unit project previously pitched by Property Markets Group

In May 2015, Pilsen Alliance protested the Midwest Jesuits' planned sale of property in front of the Roman Catholic order's headquarters, calling the plan "gentrification on steroids." 

In spring 2015, Property Markets Group revealed plans to develop 500 apartments on the vacant Pilsen property. The developer wanted a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units at the site. 

RELATED: Pilsen Groups Slam Developer As 'Trump Jr.' After He Buys Big Vacant Site

If approved, "ParkWorks" would be built at Pilsen's largest vacant site. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]