EDGEWATER — A North Side alderman has rejected a proposal to turn a vacant auto lot into a five-story apartment building after neighborhood groups said it was too big for the area and undermined a longtime effort to scale down developments on part of Broadway.
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) denied a developer’s request to rezone the former auto dealership at 5828 N. Broadway to make way for a 20-unit apartment building, he announced in his weekly newsletter Friday. Osterman said he opted not to support the project in part because five neighborhood block clubs united to oppose it.
Fifteen years ago, neighbors led a charge to downzone the west side of Broadway from Foster to Devon avenues, limiting new buildings to four stories. Neighbors overwhelmingly approved the zoning change in a community referendum in 2006.
Developer Joe Lyons’ building, which also included ground-floor parking, was the first project on the west side of Broadway that sought to exceed the four-story limit and would have required a rezoning, Osterman said. Lyons said constructing a four-story building on the site would not be financially feasible.
The building would have included 12 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedrooms, with rent at $1,300-$2,100. There would have been parking for 11 cars and 12 bikes.
Because a rezoning was needed, the project would have been required to include four affordable units, which would have rented at $900 for a one-bedroom and $1,100 for a two-bedroom.
In a community meeting on the zoning request, neighbors said the proposal ran afoul of the previous downzoning and — in building to five stories and not having retail space — set a bad precedent for the west side of Broadway.
Five local block clubs signed a letter opposing the project, including: Broadway-Ardmore-Ridge-Glenwood-Early (BARGE), Edgewater Glen Association, Every Person is Concerned (EPIC) Block Club, Edgewater North Neighbors and Lakewood Balmoral Residents Council.
“There is nothing so especially unique or compelling about this project, other than the fact that it’s a live offer on the table, that makes it worth undoing the zoning which we worked so hard to get,” resident Steve Bishop said.
The east side of Broadway, which neighbors the Red Line tracks, is better suited for larger development, neighbors said.
Osterman said the “majority” of neighbors who contacted his office about the project opposed it. The alderman said he will look to a project that better meets what neighbors want to see along that stretch and within the current zoning.
However, a development that conforms to the existing zoning would not necessarily trigger the city’s affordable units requirement. Osterman said he will “work to see that affordable units are included” in future plans for the site.
“Many of the residents who supported the zoning change did so based on the affordable units that would have been part of this building,” Osterman, the chair of the city’s Housing Committee, wrote in the newsletter. “This site is currently a vacant used car lot and has potential for development.”
This is the second time Lyons sought to develop the car lot.
In 2019, Lyons and his firm, J&P Contractors, tried to buy the lot and the neighboring building that houses Ardmore Glass & Mirror, 5826 N. Broadway. But the glass shop wasn’t interested in leaving, and the project was abandoned, Lyons said at the community meeting. He moved forward with a project just for the auto lot.
Osterman said his office will host a series of meetings early next year to work out a vision plan for Broadway that addresses issues like development, infrastructure and pedestrian safety.
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