LAKEVIEW — A five-story apartment building could go up in Lakeview, but neighbors said developers’ plans need to first be scaled down.
Michael Schwartz and Scott Schiller of SNS Realty presented plans for the mixed-use building during a Zoom hearing Tuesday hosted by the Hawthorne Neighbors community group and the alderman’s office. The development would replace the Tenenbaum Hardware store at 1138 W. Belmont Ave.
The 58-foot building would have 32 predominantly two- and three-bedroom units on its second through fifth floors, Schiller said. Three of them will be affordable units.
Its first floor would include a lobby and 4,475 square feet for retail space that could be rented entirely to one business or split into smaller stores, Schwartz said.
“We can never assure a neighborhood group or community exactly who the tenants will be,” Schwartz said. “All we can do is ensure we build a space as attractive to as many different types of retailers as possible.”
At five stories, it would be the tallest building within the area and would be among SNS’ largest developments.
“People like Lakeview because it’s neighborhood-y,” said Angie Garbot, who owns and lives in the three-flat directly behind Tenenbaum Hardware. “I’d love to see something nice going here, as long as it fits the neighborhood.”
The developers’ plans — which require swapping the corner lot’s front entrance from Belmont to Clifton Avenue — leave just 5 feet of space between their five-story apartment building and Garbot’s three-story home.
Garbot said her home, which is directly north of the lot, would lose sunlight, privacy and its sense of security. She’s lived there for 23 years.
“Their proposal had four balconies in the back just 5 feet away from our building,” Garbot said. “That’s a bit of a concern.”
Garbot said developers haven’t shown renderings of the building’s side that faces her lot, and she worries they’ll have to remove two large trees on her property for its construction.
“Because there are so many questions we don’t know answers to, we are concerned about our property value,” Garbot said. “Anything that happens to our property that could make it less appealing is a concern. This is our investment.”
Others neighbors raised concerns about the building having just 16 parking spaces but 17 two- or three-bedroom units, which could attract families who likely own cars.
One neighbor, who drives through the lot’s west alley to reach his garage, said the area would be too congested with another 16 cars using it.
Developers marketed the building as a Transit-Oriented Development given its proximity to the Belmont Red Line Station. The city’s TOD program allows developers to build multi-family units with fewer parking spaces if they’re close to certain transit routes.
“The idea is that people will not use cars and will use public transit instead,” Schwartz said of the proposal, which includes room for at least 16 bike racks.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who called the proposal a “positive development” with “more work to be done,” said the property wouldn’t be entitled to TOD status unless a zoning change is approved.
Tunney said the residential portion of the building “needs to be set back much further” from the property line than the retail floor, giving more space from Garbot’s home.
The alderman, who chairs the city’s Zoning Committee, also suggested three-bedroom apartments aren’t in high demand right now.
“What we’re seeing with the reaction to COVID-19 is most people want their one-bedrooms or efficiencies, and they don’t want to be in larger apartments,” Tunney said.
The developers listened and said feedback from Hawthorne Neighbors and the aldermen’s office would continue to refine their proposal.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.