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11 Apartments Pitched For Pair of Century-Old Bucktown Industrial Buildings

By Alisa Hauser | June 20, 2017 9:57am
 New retail and apartments are proposed for 1912-1918 N. Milwaukee Ave.
New retail and apartments are proposed for 1912-1918 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN — A pair of century-old industrial buildings along the Milwaukee and Western avenues corridor in Bucktown would add 11 new apartments, as well as possible new bars and restaurants to the changing area, under a proposal that would need city approval.

The buildings, at 1912 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 1914 N. Milwaukee Ave., were built in 1907 and 1910 respectively, according to owner Chris Ilekis, a principal with Downtown real estate development firm Vequity.

Provided a rezoning request gets the city's OK, Ilekis says Vequity hopes to start construction this fall and deliver the one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 500 to 1,200 square feet, by next spring.

A venture headed by Ilekis bought the 1912 N. Milwaukee Ave. building for $437,000 in April of 2016, and the 1914 N. Milwaukee building for $1.35 million on May 11, county records show. Ilekis said Tuesday that both buildings "will be constructed and marketed separately."

Vequity is also the developer of The Western, a seven-story, 44-unit apartment tower at 1920 N. Milwaukee Ave. that plans to open next month and will eventually be anchored by a Starbucks.

The two-story, 1912 N. Milwaukee Ave. site will offer 2,200 square-foot of retail for a possible bar or restaurant and two apartments above it, while the three-story 1914 N. Milwaukee Ave. building will offer 4,400 square feet of retail with nine apartments above it, located "in former artist lofts with tin ceilings and expansive ceiling heights" plus outdoor balconies for some of the residences, Ilekis said.

Both buildings have been vacant for years and will be completely renovated and "taken down to the shell with all new utilities and interiors," Ilekis said, adding that the facades of both buildings "will be restored and improved to preserve the character of both buildings."

Ilekis said modern improvements slated for the buildings include bi-folding door systems on the first floors to allow the future retail/restaurant tenants to create an indoor/outdoor environment.

On Thursday, the city's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks & Building Standards is set to vote on a zoning request that would change the designation from manufacturing to mixed-used commercial, to allow for the project.

Philip Edison, Chairman of the Bucktown Community Organization's zoning committee, said that the neighborhood group has "reviewed the project and made recommendations to the property owner."

"The property owner made revisions to the plans and sent them back to us for review. We have not had another meeting after that point, so we have not voted yet," Edison said on Tuesday.

Though Bucktown group's members are scheduled to discuss local development projects with Edison at WhirlyBall, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1825 W. Webster Ave., according to its website, Edison said the Bucktown neighborhood group "will not be in a position to support or not support by Thursday” when the proposal will be heard by the city's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks & Building Standards.

Ald. Scott Waguespack was not immediately available on Tuesday to share his stance on the proposed project.

Neither of the buildings will offer any parking because the properties are around the corner from the CTA Blue Line Western station, according to the zoning applications. 

"Both buildings being close to public transportation (CTA Western Blue Line, 606, Bus Stop and Milwaukee Ave Bike Path) will have plentiful on-site bike storage," Ilekis said.

So far, no tenants have signed on to anchor the apartments because it is still in planning stages. However, Ilekis said "we have a lot of interest in this area from reputable local and national tenants that want to take advantage of this great neighborhood, high traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) and convenient location/ access to public transportation at the Milwaukee/ Western intersection."

Restaurants, pubs or bars, fitness, and general retail uses are among the types of tenants that could be good fits, Ilekis said.

"There are a large number of new apartment units planned for this area and we are heavily invested in the immediate neighborhood. This intersection has come a long way in the recent years and it will continually improve to be a destination within the city considering the amount of proposed redevelopment projects in planning or currently under development. The Milwaukee/Armitage/Western corridor is truly unique in that it offers immediate and convenient access to multiple means of public transportation as well as some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, boutiques and entertainment venues," Ilekis said.