A massive fire destroyed Twisted Hippo Brewery, Ultimate Ninjas Gym and an apartment building near the corner of Montrose Avenue and Richmond Street early Feb. 21, 2022 in Albany Park. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

ALBANY PARK — Neighbors can weigh in on a developer’s plan to build 24 condos on the vacant lot in Albany Park that once housed Twisted Hippo Brewery and Ultimate Ninjas Gym before a massive fire last year. 

Developer Alan Candea and his wife, Colette, want to build four buildings with six condos each at 4343-4357 N. Richmond St. The lot has been vacant since the fire destroyed the two businesses in February 2022.

The vacant lot at 4343-4357 N. Richmond St. on Feb. 23, 2023. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

The buildings would not include any retail since they’re facing Richmond instead of the Montrose commercial strip, Candea said. Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) must sign off on a special-use permit for the residential-only buildings.

Rodriguez-Sanchez is collecting feedback via the ward’s community zoning process and expects to host a community meeting about the plan in April, she said.  

“I’m asking for a special-use because no one wants commercial on the first floor. It’s all residential there,” Candea said. “It’s a residential neighborhood. … To have commercial on the first floor there would be a disaster.” 

A rendering of the proposed development for 4343-4357 N. Richmond St. Credit: Provided.

The condos would be a mix of three-bedroom, two-bathroom and four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath units, according to the plans shared with Rodriguez-Sanchez’s office.

There would also be 24 parking spaces in four garages, according to the plans.

Candea said he would still pursue construction if the special-use permit isn’t granted.

“I’m hoping to be able to do something really nice there,” Candea said. “If you drive up and down Richmond on that pocket, it’s all six-flats there. So it would fit right into the neighborhood.” 

Candea is also building 18 residential units across the street at 2924 W. Montrose Ave. That four-floor building will include retail and a garage with 31 parking spaces, according to plans. 

The alderwoman rejected Candea’s request for a zoning change for that project after neighbors complained about posts the developer’s brother made on social media during unrest in 2020.

Construction at 2924 W. Montrose Ave. on Feb. 23, 2023. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

Twisted Hippo had been at 2925 W. Montrose Ave. since 2019. Chicago’s craft beer community rallied around the brewery with fundraisers following the fire.

The brewery later began brewing at District Brew Yards in the West Loop. Owner Marilee Rutherford said this week she’s still looking for a new permanent Albany Park location. 

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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park reporterrnrnalex@blockclubchi.orgnnLincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park reporterrnrnalex@blockclubchi.org Twitter @avhndz