NORTH CENTER — A developer’s revised plans to tear down Chicago Joe’s to build an apartment building now has the key approval of Ald. Matt Martin (47th).
The 2250 W. Irving Park Road property includes the closed Chicago Joe’s restaurant, six apartments and a parking lot across four city lots. Developer Landrosh Development needs a zoning change for the parking lot so it matches that of the restaurant to build a five-story apartment building that features ground floor space for a restaurant.
The building would have 39 apartments, with eight of the units designated affordable instead of the four required by the city. The plan features 19 car parking spaces and 42 bicycle parking spaces.
The revised proposal’s “emphasis on commercial space” fits into the ward’s Irving Park Visioning process and the Northcenter Chamber’s 2019 community plan, Martin said in a letter last week explaining his support of the project.
Landrosh Development President Patrick Landrosh declined to comment.
This is the developer’s second proposal for the site.
Martin rejected the developer’s initial plans in April to build an upscale condo complex that would have included a 53-foot-tall building to replace the restaurant. It was to have duplexes on the ground floor and 16 parking spaces. But Martin wanted more affordable units and commercial space.
The North Center Neighborhood Association and the North Center Chamber of Commerce also declined to support the initial proposal.
For the new plan, to reduce the impact of the apartment building’s height on neighbors to the north, the top story of the apartment building will be set back 17 feet. And a required loading berth will be located off of Oakley to limit the impact on the residential alley.
In response to community calls for larger units, the number of two-bedrooms in the proposal was increased from five to 14, with 19 one-bedrooms — down from 30 — and six studios, Martin said.
One of the reasons the plan won approval from neighbors and Martin was its inclusion of a commercial space for a restaurant, Martin said.
Such an establishment had been present at this intersection for decades. Notably, during a meeting our office hosted Aug. 3 at the North Center senior campus for its residents, the majority of attendees indicated that they wished to see a restaurant or coffee shop serve as a social gathering space,” Martin said.
Chicago Joe’s owners put the building up for sale two years ago, saying they were ready to move on with their lives, realtor Nicholas Jakubco previously told Block Club. The restaurant shut down indefinitely in October 2020 because of statewide restrictions on indoor dining.
A fixture in North Center since 1988, Chicago Joe’s founders Chuck Kowalski and Al Rompza opened the restaurant to celebrate the idea of a “regular Joe,” incorporating vintage advertisements for the Chicago Daily News, seats from Comiskey Park and boxing gloves into the restaurant’s decor. The restaurant was known for its burgers and friendly atmosphere.
The menus were designed to look like the front page of an old Chicago Tribune. Appetizers were listed under the First Edition, burgers in the Burger Art Museum and the Final Edition section featured desserts.
This is not the first time the Chicago Joe’s site has been targeted for redevelopment.
In 2014, D+K Architects and zoning attorney Rolando Acosta submitted a zoning application to build a mixed-use building with commercial space on the first floor, four floors of residential with a green roof. That deal later fell through, Acosta said.
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