LOGAN SQUARE — A pair of developers are looking to convert an early 1900s-era Logan Square building that currently houses a substance abuse recovery center into a 44-unit apartment complex targeted at millennials.
Brian Duggan of Guardian Capital and Chad Tepley of CDT Realty Corporation are behind the proposal at 3601 W. Cortland St.
Their plans call for reusing the existing structure and renovating it to include 44 one-bedroom apartments, each offering between 400 to 500 square feet of space and costing around $1,200 per month. They’re also looking to carve out 32 parking spaces in back.
The developers said they’re using an “approachable pricing” structure to determine rents. The term, which was invented by developers in Minneapolis, according to City Pages, is rent that’s somewhere in between affordable housing and market rates.
Adult & Teen Challenge currently occupies the four-story, masonry building, and has for the last 25 years or so. The faith-based organization houses about 50 male teens and adults undergoing substance abuse treatment. There are currently 25 parking spaces in back.
Founded more than 50 years ago, the organization currently oversees 225 residential centers across the country and more than 1,000 globally, according to its website.
Back when it was first built in 1918, the building was home to the Illinois Bell Telephone company. The building does not have landmark status, though it is considered historically significant, the developers said.
Michael Ezgur, zoning attorney for the developers, said Adult & Teen Challenge is looking to leave the building because it can’t afford necessary repairs. If granted zoning approval, the developers would allow the organization to stay in the building rent free for one year while it looks for a new home.
“It’s not ideal for them. It’s an expensive building to operate. It needs repairs. This will allow them to continue to flourish,” Ezgur said at a community meeting, held Wednesday evening at the McCormick YMCA at 1834 N. Lawndale Ave.
The organization’s executive director, Brian Wood, said they’re “certainly not selling out of desperation,” though he acknowledged they’re not equipped to pay for costly repairs in the coming years.
“We see it as a positive to move forward to enable us to help more people. They’re helping us to do that,” Wood said of the developers.
The organization head added that several brokers have approached them about buying the building over the last two years he’s been at the helm.
If the deal goes through, the organization will take the money from the sale and open a new facility with double the capacity, Wood said. But it’s unlikely the organization will be able to stay in Logan Square, which is getting increasingly more expensive as gentrification continues to take hold.
“I would be very surprised if we could [stay in the neighborhood] simply because for us to buy a bigger facility in the neighborhood is probably not within our reach,” Wood said.
Parking was by far the biggest issue at Wednesday’s community meeting.
Many neighbors said parking has become impossible in the area as the neighborhood continues to gentrify, and 44 new renters would only exacerbate the problem.
There’s “congestion from the Y[MCA], congestion from [The 606] trail, congestion from developers,” nearby resident Sandra Van Opstal said.
“I think the building you want to do is awesome. But 44 units, 35 cars driving on my street at that corner? It’s just too much,” said Van Opstal, who has lived in the area for 12 years.
“It’s too much congestion. We’re just feeling overwhelmed by the amount of people who keep trying to come in. It’s exhausting when you already feel that Cortland [Street] is so busy.”
Responding to an onslaught of parking-related concerns, Ezgur said the developers are proposing more parking spaces than is likely necessary, given that the millennials and young professionals they’re targeting don’t always rely on cars to get around.
“The two car families … they’re going to go somewhere else,” Ezgur said.
At one point, Duggan chimed in, saying, “I would be willing to put a wager that the parking lot is going to have vacancies every single day.”
With one-bedroom apartments, rather than two- or three-bedroom apartments, there will be less tenants in the building and, therefore, fewer cars on the block, Ezgur argued.
Of the 44 units, at least 10 percent of them would be reserved as affordable housing units in accordance with the city’s affordable requirements ordinance. However, when 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno’s chief of staff Raymond Valadez challenged the developers to bump it up to 15 percent, they said they were open to it.
Overwhelmingly residents said they would like to see more parking spaces in the proposal — at least 44 to match the number of apartments. They also suggested decreasing the number of apartments to 35 to match the current number of parking spaces.
Ezgur and his team said they would look into it, but warned that both scenarios would likely backfire.
“When you reduce the number of units, you reduce the number of affordable housing units as well. We want as much affordable as possible, and we want it on site. We want less cars and less traffic. We’re trying to balance a lot of things. … it’s a difficult thing,” Ezgur said.
Still, Valadez asked the developers to go back to the drawing board and incorporate resident feedback. Valadez said developers will bring a revised proposal back to the community in the coming months.
The developers need a zoning change to pursue the project. The site is currently zoned for a limited residential district that includes townhouses and two-flats, and they are seeking a zoning designation that allows for a residential multi-unit district.