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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Alderman Backs Apartments Near Berwyn Red Line After Developer Redesigns Project, Moves Affordable Units

MCZ Development's building will have five affordable units spread throughout the building rather than placing them all at street level, according to new plans.

MCZ Development is seeking to turn a single-story retail strip into an apartment building at Berwyn and Winthrop avenues.
2rz Architecture
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EDGEWATER — Plans to overhaul the former Berwyn Avenue home of a storefront theater and coffee shop into apartments has garnered the support of the area’s alderman after developers changed the building’s retail, facade and affordable housing components.

MCZ Development’s proposal to replace the retail building at 1101 W. Berwyn Ave. with a five-story apartment complex has the support of Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), he said in an email to constituents. The aldermen endorsed the project after MCZ incorporated neighbor feedback from a recent community meeting and made key changes to the design.

The revised five-floor development would contain 77 apartments, 36 parking spots, bike parking and ground-floor retail.

Previously, MCZ planned a building that would have five affordable units on the ground floor, with a retail storefront nearest the neighboring Red Line stop. After some neighbors said it was unfair to segregate all the affordable units at street level, MCZ has changed its plans to have affordable units throughout the building.

Each affordable unit will have two bedrooms, developers said at a second community meeting. Plans still call for ground-floor units, but they will be a mix or market-rate and affordable apartments.

Credit: 2rz/48th Ward Office
The first proposal for 1101 W. Berwyn Ave. had a darker facade and no white strip running along its Berwyn facade.

The development does not trigger the city’s affordability requirement because it does not require a rezoning, but Osterman’s office requested affordable units be included, he said.

The units will be subsidized by the city’s Low Income Housing Trust, meaning they units will be available to those making 30 percent of the area’s median income. That comes out to roughly $500 monthly rent for a family of two making a maximum of about $22,400, Osterman said.

“Our goal here with these five units is try to get some family units for families in our community to take advantage of in this new building,” Osterman said.

The building’s facade has also been updated to include a strip of glazed brick between the first and second floor that gives more pedestrian scale to the building’s Berwyn front and nods to the existing building’s white-glazed brick, said architect Bill Hornoff of 2rz Architecture. The building’s color has also been lightened.

MCZ’s development is replacing the building that housed Steep Theatre Company and Rewired Cafe, two neighborhood institutions that moved out to make way for the project.

Some neighbors said MCZ’s plans for mostly residential ground-floor uses rather than retail would eliminate valuable community space on Berwyn Avenue. In response, MCZ has made its 1,800-square-foot retail space divisible into two storefronts and is looking to install outdoor furniture along Berwyn Avenue. Osterman also said his office will work to bring back food truck nights that had been held along that strip.

A “green wall” made of ivy will also be installed along the building’s east facade, which neighbors the Red Line Berwyn stop.

With the additions, Osterman said he hopes the development will retain some of the community feel on that strip of Berwyn while providing housing.

The project still needs City Council approval, and it will take 14-16 months of construction to complete, said Stan Bernshteyn, chief operating officer at MCZ.

MCZ also is the developer behind the redevelopment of Edgewater Hospital into apartments and is working to bring apartment buildings to 4511 N. Clark St. and 4410 N. Clark St. in Uptown. The company also plans to convert the former Wing Hoe Restaurant into residences.

Credit: Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center
Steep Theatre’s previous storefront in the building at 1101 W. Berwyn Ave.

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