AVONDALE — A plan to tear down an Avondale bungalow and build condos in its place is drawing opposition from neighbors who say the project represents a trend of construction that ultimately prices out longtime residents.
Developer Tadeusz Kawula is trying to get a zoning change to raze a 1920s bungalow at 3840 W. Cornelia Ave. and replace it with a six-flat condo building with a parking garage in back and a rooftop deck. The condos would cost $350,000-$500,000 depending on the market when the building is complete, and they would be 1,200-2,400 square feet, the development team said.
While the project is small compared to others in the area, several neighbors at a community meeting Thursday evening spoke out against the plan, saying it has wider implications for the future of the neighborhood. They said the three-story condo building will change the character of the quaint block and lead to displacement.
“I think this is a pattern of what is going to happen in our neighborhood … because, unfortunately, gentrification is coming,” neighbor Alejandra Lopez said.
Lopez lives less than two blocks from the bungalow. She said she’s worried the Cornelia Avenue project — and others like it, including a condo building proposed for 3310 N. Harding Ave. — will eventually drive out working-class people who have called Avondale home for years.
“When they start to build units and buildings like that, the [tax] increases are crazy and people like me, [they say], ‘I can’t afford it,'” Lopez said. “It’s obviously about business, not about what happens to the neighbors who live over here.”
Paul Kolpak, the developer’s zoning attorney, said Chicago needs to increase its housing supply to create a more affordable housing landscape. He said single-family homes, not multi-unit condo buildings, are what is hurting affordability.
“Single-family homes, as much we love them, are basically an inefficient use of land. As we go forward, I think you’re going to see more and more of that,” Kolpak said.
A recent housing study from DePaul University showed Chicago quickly is losing its two-, three- and four-flat homes. On the North Side, they’re typically replaced by single-family homes.
Another major concern was the condo project’s modern design. Nearby resident Valerie Teruel likened the project to “lego blocks with bannisters.”
“I care very much about our neighborhood and how a lot of it is being destroyed by these tall buildings that don’t have a lot of character or personality,” Teruel said.
Neighbor Andrew Sirota said the bungalow the developer wants to demolish is “one of the most unique buildings” in the area. “It is in poor shape, but it could be fixed up,” Sirota said.
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) said he will continue to work with the development team to satisfy neighbors’ concerns. He said the project is “not a done deal.”
Members of the Avondale Neighborhood Association are pushing the alderman to adopt a community-driven zoning process like other City Council members in the area. That type of review procedure prioritizes neighbors’ feedback.
Reboyras in February rejected a developer’s plan to tear down an 105-year-old home at 3917-21 W. Eddy St. and replace it with condos after neighbors put up a fight.
“I don’t make zoning changes unless we have the support of the community,” Reboyras said. “I’ve always been fair with the zoning process, contrary to what some say.”
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