NORTH CENTER — A plan to build a five-story building at the site of the former Crawford Supply plumbing company won City Council approval this week, a project officials hope will help bring some affordable housing back to the neighborhood.
Developer Longford Design + Construction needed a zoning change and other city approval for the 3914-30 N. Lincoln Ave. and 3909-17 N. Damen Ave. site to build a 5-story, 61-foot tall building with 7,000 square feet of retail space and 68 apartments.
The current properties include a four-story building, two three-story buildings and a partially paved, partially gravel open yard with 10 parking spots. The buildings have ground floor commercial space and four apartments.
The new construction would have 60 two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom apartments with rents between $2,300 and $2,700, respectively.
Per an agreement with Martin’s office, seven units will be made affordable to families earning 30 percent of the area median income, or $27,950 for a family of four. This adjustment to the city’s affordable housing ordinance will ensure family-sized units “accessible to very low-income families immediately adjacent to transit,” said Josh Mark, Ald. Matt Martin’s (47th) director of development and infrastructure.
The new building will be close enough to the Irving Park Brown Line station to designate the project a transit oriented development, allowing it to have just 27 parking spaces. They will be accessed via the alley. There will also be 76 bicycle parking spaces.
The developer has also agreed to install a Divvy station on Damen Avenue and give residents without cars a one-year Divvy membership. The building will also have TV screens at both exits to show when the Brown Line and the #50 and #80 buses will arrive.
The developer was not immediately available for comment.
Martin said in a letter supporting the development before this week’s vote he was excited about the project because the commercial corridor on that stretch of Lincoln Avenue, just south of Irving Park Road, has struggled compared to nearby business districts.
In 2019, the North Center Chamber of Commerce, North Center Neighborhood Association and Martin’s office conducted a study of the business corridor. More than 1,000 neighbors said they wanted density to increase along Lincoln Avenue to support retail.
The majority of neighbors participating in a survey about Irving Park Road in the ward also said increasing local business in the area is a key way to improve the neighborhood, Martin said.
The larger two- and three-bedroom apartments in the building would also “help replace those that were lost through the demolition or de-conversion of more than 250 two- to four-unit buildings in North Center over the past decade,” Martin said.
The plan will feature a “loading zone” on Damen Avenue. The developer is working with rideshare companies to “geofence” that area and direct pickups exclusively to that side of the building to reduce traffic congestion on Lincoln Avenue, Martin said.
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