AVONDALE — An Avondale property owner is looking to bring more condos to the neighborhood, but some neighbors are trying to stop the project.
Daniel Chelariu wants to tear down the brick three-flat he owns at 3339 N. Ridgeway Ave. and build a six-unit condo building in its place.
The four-story building would have six parking spaces in back, according to the community meeting notice. Of the six apartments, four would be three-bedroom duplexes and two would be two-bedroom units. Chelariu needs a zoning change from Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) to go forward.
Chelariu’s project is the latest small development in gentrifying Avondale to face pushback from neighbors. After a recent community meeting, neighbors said they’re worried the Ridgeway Avenue condo building will create a “domino effect” and accelerate gentrification. Some are gathering signatures for a petition and delivering letters to Reboyras, urging the alderman to reject the zoning change.
Attempts to reach Chelariu were unsuccessful. Chelariu has owned the property since 2010, according to Cook County property records.
“We’re not seeing any new commerce come to our neighborhood,” neighbor Warren Williams said. “There’s still that whole strip of Milwaukee [Avenue] that’s empty storefronts. But what we are seeing is million-dollar developments, and that changes who can afford to live here. This is a working-class neighborhood. Kids live here, and that seems to be changing very quickly, and it doesn’t have to.”
Marc Fischer and his wife have lived next to the property for nine years. Fischer said he’s opposed to the project for many reasons, a major one being the proposed building’s modern architecture and lack of green space are incompatible with the block, which is lined with vintage flats. He said many neighbors’ basements have flooded, and he’s worried heavy construction could exacerbate the problem.
Like Williams, Fischer said he’s concerned the condos will lead to the displacement of longtime residents, including the two people who live in the apartment building. The two have lived there for 20 years, Fischer said.
The condos would cost up to $400,000, said Melissa Toops, a member of the Avondale Neighborhood Association, the community group that reviewed the proposal.
“We know there’s a huge demand for affordable housing in our area and nearby in Logan Square. Unless [the developer] is forced to do so, none of the units in this new building will be affordable. We don’t want to see our neighbors pushed out,” Fischer said.
Toops echoed the concerns of Fischer and Williams. She said the project represents a trend of “developers buying double-sized lots and building larger-scale condo buildings that are not contextual to the block they reside in.”
“All of these mid-block projects that are very large in scale are detrimental to the neighbors around it,” Toops said.
Fischer and Williams have collected dozens of signatures from neighbors who oppose the project; however, Reboyras told Block Club on Friday he won’t consider petitions, only votes for or against.
“Petitions are not accepted. That’s a no,” Reboyras said. “What we do is a hand raise, or let’s vote on this. We want to hear: Do you want this or not? You have two weeks to give us the information.”
Reboyras’ zoning process has been another point of contention.
Fischer and Williams said the alderman shut many neighbors out of the community review process by only printing community letters in English, when Avondale has large Polish and Latino populations, and for refusing to open up the community meeting to neighbors who live outside of the radius determined by the city. The city only requires developers send out zoning notices to residents who live within 250 feet, but some aldermen have expanded that radius in response to feedback.
Reboyras said he will continue to follow the city policy.
The Ridgeway Avenue condo project is among a string of small development proposals that have caused a stir in Avondale over the past couple of years. Neighbors opposed a condo project at 3840 W. Cornelia Ave. and an eight-unit apartment building at 3059-61 N. Washtenaw Ave.
Reboyras last February rejected a developer’s plan to tear down a 105-year-old home at 3917-21 W. Eddy St. and replace it with condos after neighbors put up a fight.
Plans for 3339 N. Ridgeway Ave.:
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