NORTH MAYFAIR — A 15-business retail park would be built overlooking Foster Avenue just east of the Edens Expy. under a plan unveiled during a public meeting Thursday evening.
The 9-acre lot has been vacant next to Seafood City Supermarket, 5033 N. Elston Ave., since last year, when the Sunstar Americas dental products factory was demolished after the company's move to suburban Schaumburg.
The retail park, dubbed "Edens Collection," would be spread across three buildings surrounding 516 parking spaces. The property would be heavily landscaped with trees and native grasses, according to developer Michael Jaffe.
"Edens Collection" would house 15 retail shops, including "a nice offering of sit-down restaurants," developer Michael Jaffe said. [Camburas & Theodore Architects]
The commercial hub would "really address a need that the neighborhood has," Jaffe said after Thursday's meeting.
"It's a burgeoning neighborhood with lots of newcomers, in the heart of a great trade area, with excellent road access," Jaffe said. "But people have to drive a long way to buy basic goods."
The 143,125-square-foot facility would be LEED-certified with a green roof, Jaffe said. Once completed, it would host about 400 permanent jobs, on par with the factory that used to occupy the property.
Tenants would likely include "apparel, pharmaceuticals" and "a nice offering of sit-down restaurants," Jaffe said.
The $60 million project would draw a "not yet determined" amount of funding from the Foster-Edens tax increment financing district, Jaffe said. In return, the developer would pay to commission a traffic light where the expressway ramp empties into Foster and bankroll $2 million in improvements for nearby Gompers Park at 4222 W. Foster Ave.
The facility's glassy design would be broken up by wood and masonry flourishes. [Camburas & Theodore Architects]
Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) tentatively signed off on the public financing because the project represents a "significant community benefit," she said Thursday. Laurino would need to pass a zoning change through the City Council before construction can get underway.
The site hugs the defunct Weber Spur train line, which city officials are straining to acquire and convert into a public trail. If they succeed, the trail could lead cyclists and pedestrians straight into the shops, Laurino said.
Of the more than 100 neighbors who packed the Albany Park District police station at 4650 N. Pulaski Road on Thursday, some aired fears that the development would jam traffic on Foster Avenue. Others said its glassy design was architecturally out of step with the bungalow-dominated neighborhood.
None objected to the proposal outright, however.
If the Weber Spur is completed and hooks up with the new retail center, it could mean "the beginnings of a bike infrastructure network with pedestrian access" across the Northwest Side, according to Jim O'Reilly, president of the North Mayfair Improvement Association.
"Having another set of stores and restaurants that people can get to locally is really important to us, because ... a lot of those tax dollars were going outside of the city," O'Reilly said. "So we see this as part of an overall renaissance of infrastructure projects that we think is really necessary for the future viability of our area."
Under the speediest scenario, construction on Edens Collection would begin next summer and open in fall 2019, Jaffe said.