AVONDALE — Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) is looking to rezone two stretches of Milwaukee Avenue — one in Logan Square and another in Avondale — so he can control future development on the gentrifying street.
The alderman, who wasn't immediately available for an interview, introduced a pair of ordinances to the City Council Wednesday.
Under the proposal, all properties from 2610-2787 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 2800-2957 N. Milwaukee Ave. would get a zoning designation that would only allow retail storefronts and apartments on the ground floor. The alderman is also looking to rezone a property at 3015 N. Elbridge Ave. to the same zoning designation.
It's welcome news for the coalition of Avondale business owners and property owners who urged the alderman to rezone their stretch of Milwaukee Avenue last month as a way to thwart developers.
Still, Lynn Basa, one of the business owners who formed the coalition, was hesitant to declare victory just yet.
"It's too soon to tell. Just because the alderman introduced the measure is no guarantee of anything," Basa wrote in an email.
Basa's coalition sent a letter to the alderman last month, arguing that rezoning is the best tool available to ensure that Avondale doesn't become like rapidly gentrifying Logan Square.
"As numerous press accounts and our own eyes can attest, investors are turning their attention to our once sleepy stretch of Milwaukee," the letter reads. "Besides diversity and affordability, one of our most important quality-of-life assets is the well-preserved old Main Street of the 100-year-old original business district."
Using zoning to control development is nothing new for the alderman, who used the tactic to block the redevelopment of the former Pierre's Bakery last spring. Weeks earlier, he used a change in zoning to gain more control over the redevelopment of the former Sunrise Market site at 2700 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The latest rezoning measures must go before the full City Council for final approval.
The strategy of changing zoning to control development is sometimes criticized for being a blunt instrument that not only promotes stagnation, but also gives already-powerful aldermen even more control over what gets built in their wards. But proponents of the tool like Basa argue it's a proactive measure that fosters more thoughtful conversations around new development.
Local developers like Nicholas Katsafados don't support the move.
"These are the people that are actually putting their money on the line, and you're trying to screw them," Katsafados previously said.