NORTH CENTER — Neighbors raised concerns about building height and added traffic at an already busy North Center intersection as they reviewed a developer’s plans to convert two bank buildings into more than 200 apartments.
More than 100 neighbors attended an open house Wednesday at O’Donovan’s, 2100 W. Irving Park Road, to review the proposal.
Developer Ravine Park Partners wants to renovate the existing bank building at 3959 N. Lincoln Ave. and construct an eight- or seven-story building at 3950 N. Damen Ave. Both properties are near the three-way intersection of Lincoln Avenue, Damen Avenue and Irving Park Road.
The rehab of the 3959 N. Lincoln Ave. building would include 5,000 square feet of retail on the first floor and 92 one- and two-bedroom apartments, according to the plans. That design also includes an addition to the building.
The overhaul at 3950 N. Damen Ave. would feature 166 apartments, including 65 studios, 33 one-bedrooms and 68 two- and three-bedrooms.
Both would have commercial space on the first floors.
Diane and David Louis, who live near the 3959 N. Lincoln Ave. building, said they are concerned the proposed extension to the building will encroach on neighbors.
They’ve lived in the neighborhood for the past six years and also worry about the potential loss of green space along Irving Park Road, just east of the bank building, frequented by area dog owners.
“They’re taking it away,” David Louis said.
Neighbor Pam Fritzsche said she disliked the height and design of the proposal and would prefer the new building better match what’s already along the commercial corridor.
“It’s going to dwarf the side street people,” Fritzsche said. “It’s just another ugly box in the neighborhood.”
Neighbor Ned Lauber said he wants the 3950 N. Damen Ave. project to be even bigger than what the developer proposed.
“It isn’t tall enough. It’s not enough units. I think this is a great neighborhood, so I want more people to live here,” Lauber said. “I think that other people should also get to enjoy the amenities that I enjoy by just happening to live a couple of blocks from this.”
Alex Nelson also likes the density of the plan but said he was worried about how it would affect traffic at the busy three-way intersection during construction and after its built.
“It’s already a tight intersection and tough to drive through. And while they’re saying it’s roughly the same number of parking spaces, the reality is right now the bank parking lots are very underutilized,” Nelson said. “So even though there are 96 spaces there, you don’t see 96 cars coming in and out on a day-to-day basis. You’re probably seeing like a dozen cars coming in and out right now.”
Most neighbors agreed the parking lot at 3950 N. Damen Ave. is overdue for redevelopment.
“I’m happy to see a fresh change and and a really fun idea come to that intersection. Especially the parking lot where right now it’s underdeveloped,” neighbor Hannah Bryant said.
The two properties would require a zoning change and signoff from Ald. Matt Martin (47th) and other city panels to move forward.
“We’re going take a second to digest that feedback, and we’re going to have back and forth with the developers. We’re going to be careful to aggressively involve our departments because, particularly with something of this significance … we want to be able to rely on the expertise that exists at those departments,” said Josh Mark, Martin’s director of development and infrastructure.
Martin will continue to gather feedback from neighborhood stakeholders and host another community meeting about the proposal over the next several weeks, Mark said.
Neighbors can give feedback to Martin’s office by calling 773-868-4747 or filling out this online form.
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