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Norwood Park Storage Warehouse Approved By Influential Committee

By Alex Nitkin | July 20, 2017 5:37am
 Developer Jonathan Lunn shows the building's design to members of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee.
Developer Jonathan Lunn shows the building's design to members of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

EDISON PARK — A plan to demolish a vacant industrial complex in Norwood Park's commercial district and replace it with a three-story self-storage warehouse scored the unanimous blessing of the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee on Wednesday.

Under the plan, developer Jonathan Lunn would build a climate-controlled 88,000-square-foot facility with a drive-thru loading dock at 6250 N. Northwest Highway. Lunn is asking Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) for a zoning change so that he can build a 33-foot structure set back 25 feet from the street, with grass and trees filling the empty space.

The 88,000 square-foot facility would have a single drive-up entrance and about 30 security cameras on site. [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]

Without the zoning change, Lunn would likely build a two-story warehouse behind the existing building, he said.

Unlike most alderman, who approve zoning changes at their own discretion, Napolitano defers to the committee, whose 11 members represent different community groups across the ward.

The warehouse would be built with a single entrance alongside five new parking spaces, and it would be guarded by about 30 security cameras, Lunn said. With 800 total storage units, he predicted the building would see around 25 visitors per day, "pretty much the lowest on the traffic scale out of any kind of business," he said when unveiling the plan last month.

A feasibility study of the area found only one other storage facility within two miles of the site, the developer said.

The vacant industrial site that would be razed and be replaced by the storage facility [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]

Lunn showed off a fresh design for the building on Wednesday, envisioning a layered masonry style with an array of windows facing Northwest Highway. Neighbors and committee members had bristled at the original design, which featured a more monolithic black facade.

"We got some comments that that first design was just a little too contemporary for the location," Lunn said Wednesday. "It's always difficult to design a building as a group, but I took everyone's comments to the architect, and we ended up making it look more like a first-generation storage facility."

Lunn flashed a height chart showing that his building would be nearly level with surrounding structures, including the next-door Harry's Lumber, 6220 N. Northwest Highway He also signaled that he would sign a restrictive covenant capping any future building on the site at 37 feet, if asked.

Committee chairman Mike Emerson endorsed the proposal, saying it "really would be an improvement" over the existing brick warehouse.

"It really does fit in with the massing and scaling of other buildings in both directions," Emerson said. "And the setback provides some relief and walking space that isn't there now."

The project's attorney will aim to get the zoning change approved by the City Council in September, Lunn said. If the process doesn't hit any delays, construction could begin as soon as the spring, he said.