PORTAGE PARK — Respondents to an online survey by the Six Corners Chamber of Commerce about the Point at Six Corners said they take issue with the height of the proposed development, but Ald. John Arena’s office says the way the survey was conducted was questionable.
The chamber was established last October to “influence public policy and foster a climate in which businesses can operate profitably as well as encourage and promote positive, well-balanced economic growth through business development.”
To that end, the chamber used SurveyMonkey to create a questionnaire that went live July 19 and was open to public responses through Aug. 2.
“We started getting responses the same day [it went live],” said Joe Angelastri, a member of the chamber and owner of City Newsstand, 4018 N. Cicero Ave.
Last summer, Angelastri had expressed his concern with how long it was taking developers to do something with the site of the former Bank of America. Before it was torn down he would sell newspapers to customers on their way to the bank.
“It had been a functioning bank building there for almost a century, so I really hate to see it sit there vacant for so long,” Angelastri said last May. “It’s disappointing, for sure.”
The redevelopment was part of a 2013 master plan to make the Six Corners Shopping District more dense and included a push to make the area more pedestrian friendly and the creation of a four- or five-story building at the former Bank of America site.
In 2016, the plans approved for The Point, 4747 W. Irving Park Rd., were focused on a massive shopping center anchored by Ross Dress for Less and Aldi with no residential aspect.
However, over the years the plan has undergone over a dozen revisions due to market factors.
One of these challenges has been the developer securing mid-size big box retailers, like a Target or Best Buy, to commit to the project. This is why developers pivoted to incorporating a senior housing aspect alongside a new Aldi and smaller retail options that have seen success in the neighborhood, according to 45th Ward Ald. John Arena’s office.
On Wednesday the chamber released the results of their survey.
Its first question asked, “What is your overall opinion of the proposed project?” Out of 781 responses, 33.8 percent say they “strongly do not support” the current version of the project.
Another question asked, “Based on what you currently know about the proposed project, which elements of it do you dislike?” Out of 748 responses the majority, 63.77 percent, say they take issue with the proposed 10-story height of the project.
Conversely, the public plaza aspect of the current plans are “strongly” supported by 69.12 percent of the 761 people who responded to that question.
Respondents were also asked what they’d like to see developed at the site of the former bank. Out of 776 responses 63.3 percent said they’d like to to see “a large retail store (such as a Target).”
In a release accompanying the results, the chamber said “the survey was posted on the Six Corners Chamber of Commerce website and was also distributed in hard copy form through four retail stores in the Six Corners area.”
Read the entire survey’s results below.
After reviewing the survey Owen Brugh, chief of staff for Ald. Arena, said he was skeptical of how it was conducted. He was also concerned those who participated were a “self-selected” group not in favor of the project and therefore not an accurate representation of the entire community.
“The target population for the survey was people who live in and around Six Corners — around 15,000 individuals,” said the chamber’s release. “The survey was not tested. A total of 781 individuals completed the survey, although not all the questions received responses.”
The survey also asked demographic questions regarding age, race and ethnicity as well as the “educational attainment” of the people who took it.
Regarding race and ethnicity, 74.35 percent of 768 respondents self-identified as white. For education 45.03 percent of 775 responded said they had bachelor’s degrees. And regarding age, 33.2 percent of 777 respondents said they were between 35 and 44 years old.
“I also find it odd that they have a margin of error because it’s not a statistically valid survey,” said Brugh. “You can have a sample size for a survey, sure, but we don’t know if the same person took the same survey multiple times, for instance.”
In its release, the chamber said their survey “was not tested” but that the 781 people who participated “suggests an approximate confidence level of 95 [percent] with a margin of error of [plus or minus] 3 [percent].”
Kelli Wefenstette, the Six Corners Association’s executive director, declined to comment for this article.
After the latest iteration of the plans were unveiled in June, the Old Irving Park Association’s board of directors sent a letter of support to Arena’s office regarding the plans.
“On behalf of the 500 member households of the Old Irving Park Assn., we would like to voice our support for the commercial and residential development presented by Ryan Companies and Clark St Real Estate,” the July 28 letter said. The letter described the height, design and mixed-use residential and commercial nature of the plans as a “good fit for the irregularly shaped lot anchoring the Six Corners intersection.”
Additionally, the board said the “proposed design addresses the height issue by creating a setback at the Milwaukee/Irving Park intersection, minimizing its visual impact.”
“Old Irving Park is excited about the possibility of this development, and very pleased that Ryan Companies and Clark St Real Estate listened to our concerns and suggestions and incorporated them into the final proposal,” said the letter.
The current plans for the former Bank of America site includes 265 senior high-end units, 50,000 square feet of retail, much of it facing Milwaukee Avenue, and a 21,000 square foot Aldi. The development would also include the creation of 237 parking spaces and landscaping improvements to the area for a public plaza.
In June, a nearly three-hour community meeting had residents voice their opinions on the development. Some were concerned with how it would impact street parking while others said they didn’t want a focus on senior housing because they use coupons and call 911 to often.
However, nearly everyone at the meeting experienced sticker shock at the proposed cost to live in the senior housing complex, which was described as a “cruise ship on land” by one of the developers.
“For independent living, monthly rent will be $4,400 a month. For assisted living it will be $6,000 a month. And for memory care it will be $7,200 a month,” said Dan Walsh, senior vice president of real estate development at Ryan Companies, at the June meeting.