WICKER PARK — A 38-unit condo project is coming to Western Avenue in Wicker Park following months of back and forth with a group of neighbors who protested the size of the building and its use of a shared alley.
City Council unanimously approved a zoning change for the four-story development at 1317-1335 N. Western Ave. on Wednesday.
The new zoning allows developer Gibbons Construction to build 38 condo units on the vacant lot, up from 20. The project also will include two ground-floor commercial units, two loading docks and 32 parking spots.
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) supported the zoning change in part because he said it will bring long-term affordable housing to Wicker Park.
Per Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, Gibbons is required to market six of its 38 units at affordable rates. The developer agreed to build these units on-site, La Spata said, and a recent law change means the prices have to stay the same for 30 years.
The project was not approved without controversy.
Neighborhood leaders with the Wicker Park Committee and the East Humboldt Park Neighborhood Association voted in December to approve the zoning change.
Early this year, however, a group of neighbors who live on the 1300 block of North Claremont Avenue, directly behind the lot, said they worried the project’s size would affect traffic on their street and in their alley.
As designed, the building will not have any entrance or exit lanes along Western Avenue. All traffic, including access to the 32 parking spots, will be via the shared alley.
Neighbors told Block Club they frequently see commuters using the alley as a cut-through. The neighbors share their street with Jose De Diego Community Academy, 1313 N. Claremont Ave., where drop-off and pick-up hours compound traffic.
It’s not uncommon, neighbors added, for delivery and moving trucks to block the alley for extended periods of time.
“Any time you try to pull out of the garage, someone’s there,” Anthony Grau said.
The neighbors asked if the developer could redesign the building to use existing curb-cuts on Western Avenue. La Spata dismissed that idea, saying it would endanger pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on Western Avenue, which has a Bus Rapid Transit route.
Loading docks, parking spots and an area for garbage and recycling cans would not be situated in the alley, the alderman said. Plus, accessing one’s home via an alley is “standard practice,” he said.
“It feels unfair to say, ‘You all are the only ones who cannot access your parking’” through the alley, he said.
The neighbors who opposed the project did not speak at the city’s Committee on Zoning, which voted Tuesday to support the zoning change ahead of Wednesday’s final vote.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: