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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Six Corners Senior Housing Complex Fails To Advance Amid Opposition From Alderman-Elect

Ald.-elect James Gardiner refused to speak with reporters and directed opponents of the project to do the same.

Ald.-elect James Gardiner opposes a plan to fill the gaping hole at the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District with a 248-unit senior living facility.
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PORTAGE PARK — A proposal to fill the gaping hole at the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District with a 248-unit senior living facility failed to advance Tuesday, putting the future of the development in doubt.

Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) called for a vote to determine whether there were enough aldermen present to take action on the 10-story building set to be built at Irving Park Road, Cicero and Milwaukee avenues.

“I don’t feel like there has been enough discussion on this issue,” said Laurino, who left immediately after she called for a quorum vote.

After a brief recess, the quorum vote failed and the meeting was recessed.

Ald. John Arena (45th) — who lost his seat in February — championed the project from the Ryan Companies that also includes an Aldi grocery store and public plaza.

The failure of the project to advance “is a blow to my community” and “frustrating,” Arena said after the meeting. 

In March 2016, city officials approved plans for a massive shopping center anchored by Ross Dress for Less and Aldi. However, that plan fell apart amid woes in the retail industry. The corner has been vacant since then, when the Bank of America branch that stood at the center of the area once known as the city’s premiere shopping destination outside the Loop was torn down.

Of the proposed complex’s 248 units, 102 apartments are designed to be part of an independent living facility, while the remaining 146 units will be set aside for seniors who need assisted living and memory care, according to the plans. The complex will also have 216 parking spaces, according to the proposal.

During the Zoning Committee meeting, Ald.-elect Jim Gardiner (45th) sat with opponents of the project, including Joe Angelastri, the owner of the nearby City Newsstand, who said the project needed to be made more affordable for residents of Portage Park.

“If my successor wants to start over, you’ll have Lake Gardiner,” Arena said.

After the meeting, Gardiner refused to speak with reporters and directed opponents of the project to do the same.

Laurino could not be reached for comment.

Arena said the development team met with Gardiner to brief him on the project. Arena said Gardiner told him that he wanted more time to fully understand the development.

“The project is a great project,” Arena said. “If it is going to be killed because of politics, that’s kind of sad to me.”

In June, Ryan Companies officials said independent living units would rent for $4,400 a month, assisted living units would rent for $6,000 a month and memory care units would rent $7,200 a month.

None of the development’s units will be set aside for low- or moderate-income residents. Instead, to fulfill the requirements of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, the developer will build 10 off-site units at locations that have not yet been determined.

Allowing the developer to build off-site units was a fair compromise, given that rents at the facility would include services such as housekeeping or nursing, Arena said.

The $125 million complex will create 500 construction jobs and 140 permanent jobs, city officials said.

“Six Corners had enough uncertainty,” Arena said. “I don’t know why [Ald. Laurino] would insert herself like this.”

In other action, aldermen gave the green light to (O2018-8012) a $95 million office tower at the Fulton Market gateway in the West Loop as well as several projects in the 1st Ward outlined in our preview, including a plan (O2019-1346) to convert an early 1900s-era Logan Square building that currently houses a substance abuse recovery center into a 35-unit apartment complex targeted at millennials.

Aldermen also advanced a request (O2019-1377) from outgoing Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) to rezone his Wicker Park home to allow him to convert his Wicker Park single-family home to a two-flat.

However, a proposal (O2019-1347) to build a 32-unit transit-oriented development at 1838-44 N. Western Ave. was deferred as were (O2019-328) plans for a 12-story office tower at Illinois Street and La Salle Drive in River North with shops and stores on the ground floor.

In addition, a proposal (O2018-4980) to convert a convenience store at 3579 W. Dickens Ave. in Logan Square into a shelter by dog-rescue group One Tail At A Time was withdrawn.