NORTH CENTER — A North Side alderman rejected a zoning change for a proposed development at a Fifth Third Bank property in North Center after the developer refused to reveal the identity of the grocer that would anchor the project.
Developer CRG needed a zoning change to build a 45-foot-tall commercial building at a Fifth Third Bank property near a three-way intersection at Irving Park Road, and Lincoln and Damen avenues.
The redevelopment at 3950 N. Damen Ave. would have included a commercial grocery store and 153 on-site parking spaces.
But the developer frustrated residents and Ald. Matt Martin (47th) by not publicizing which grocer is involved, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
That lack of transparency is one of the reasons Martin denied CRG’s request, he said.
“Most public comments our office received took issue with the fact that the community was asked to weigh in on a development proposal without knowing the identity of the proposed grocer or the precise nature of its intended operations,” Martin said in a statement.
The Northcenter Neighborhood Association and North Center Chamber of Commerce also rejected the developer’s “piecemeal approach” to developing the parking lot and the existing bank building in North Center separately, Martin said.
Jay Case, operating partner with CRG, told Block Club on last week his firm would likely discuss who the grocer is “in the next 30 days.” Messages left with Case on Thursday were not immediately returned.
Martin said he also rejected a zoning change because a Trader Joe’s at 3745 N. Lincoln Ave., a CVS at 4051 N. Lincoln Ave., and a Jewel-Osco at 4250 N. Lincoln Ave. all are within walking distance of the site. Another grocer at the Damen address isn’t needed, Martin argues, and would also pose a threat to nearby locally owned businesses.
The car-centric proposal would also make an intersection that already has “notoriously bad traffic” worse and would discourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the area.
The North Center proposal is very similar to one from a different developer in Lincoln Square where the identity of the grocer also has been kept secret, frustrating elected officials and neighbors who worry a corporate chain would hurt locally owned businesses in the area.
The Lincoln Square development also involves the overhaul of a Fifth Third Bank property but it does not require a zoning change for the first phase of its construction.
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