PILSEN — A prominent developer will present the latest plan for Pilsen's largest vacant site at a meeting Wednesday — and a neighborhood group plans to protest, saying the project threatens to "change the social fabric of our community."
Property Markets Group will pitch plans for "ParkWorks," a mixed-use residential and commercial development next to the planned Paseo Trail at an open house from 5:30-8.30 p.m. Wednesday at 1907 S. Halsted St. in the neighborhood.
PMG bought the vacant 7.85-acre site, located between 16th and 18th streets and Newberry Avenue and Peoria Street, in January.
Pilsen residents can register for the open house online. Members of the development team will be present to answer questions from the community. PMG plans to host another ParkWorks open house on June 13 and June 14.
In response to the development, Pilsen Alliance plans to protest the developer's plan at the open house Wednesday night. In an e-mail to supporters, executive director Byron Sigcho wrote that the PMG development "threatens to change the social fabric of our community."
"Join us at their 'open house' and let's send them a clear message that we do not need more luxury housing in Pilsen, we are dealing with a mass wave of evictions and every day more families are forced to leave the neighborhood due to lack of affordable housing options," Sigcho wrote. "...Help us send a message to this greedy developer."
Despite Ald. Danny Solis' (25th) efforts to block residences on Pilsen's largest vacant site last year, PMG unveiled new plans for the parcel in April.
A rendering shows what the ParkWorks development in Pilsen could look like. [Property Markets Group]
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 a promotional 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.
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.
Watch the developer's full pitch video below.
Despite the new plan, it remains unclear how PMG developer Noah 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, 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."
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.
If approved, "ParkWorks" would be built at Pilsen's largest vacant site. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]