LINCOLN PARK — The owners of a 135-year-old Lincoln Park three-flat want to add a fourth-floor addition to the property, but some neighbors resisting the change.
The building at 2222 N. Halsted St. is considered “orange-rated” in the Sheffield Historic District, meaning it possesses some qualities that contribute to the historical nature of the area. The Cook County Assessor’s Office lists the building as 135 years old.
Jeffrey Engelmann, whose family has owned the building for 27 years, presented the renovation plans during a community meeting Monday with Ald. Michele Smith’s office (43rd) and the Sheffield Neighborhood Association. He wants to add a fourth floor with an 18-foot setback from the front.
The existing building has noticeable deterioration of its front facade, limestone and upper crown, Engelmann said. It also has issues with flooding and drainage, a foundation crack from nearby construction, an undersized electrical system for modern-day requirements and poor insulation, he said.
“One of the motivating reasons for us to embark on this path is there’s been a lot of deterioration for years now,” Engelmann said.
In addition to modernizing the building’s three rental units, which would be converted into condominiums, the project calls for replacing the rear stair enclosure so it’s up to code and adding rear porches because the preservation of the front facade prevents any front alterations to the building, Engelmann said.
The building needs to be re-zoned for the work to be allowed, said attorney Sara Barnes.
“This happens all the time, especially with older buildings,” Barnes said. “The zoning ordinance changes over time, and buildings that were conforming become non-conforming.”
The building’s owners need to bring the structure into compliance with the zoning ordinance for any improvements to be permitted, Barnes said.
Engelmann said he’ll revert the property’s zoning back to the original zoning once all necessary permits and certifications have been issued.
Neighbors said they support the modernization and appreciate the owners’ desire to preserve its historical qualities rather than demolishing the structure and rebuilding within its existing zoning code.
However, a handful of neighbors along Dayton Street, about a block west of the building, said they are concerned about its fourth-floor addition, which would increase the building’s height from 37 to 47 feet.
“It seems there’s definitely a height issue going on here amongst the residents of Dayton,” one neighbor said. “That seems like a major concern, and I’m just wondering if the architect and builder had considered just doing a typical three-flat with three floors that would maintain its current height.”
Engelmann said preservation projects can be more costly, and the “economics” of a three-floor building would be less affordable.
“It just gets difficult in these preservations to be able to accomplish both without adding more to the building,” Engelmann said. “Buyers look for warranties and different guarantees in these older buildings, so the tradeoff we found when we looked at the different alternatives was going with a fourth floor.”
The building also is not expected to cast any shadows on the alley due to the amount of space between the fourth floor and the end of the lot line, Barnes said.
The building will be set back 35 feet from the rear of the property, and there’s another 16 feet of alley space before reaching Dayton residents’ rear garages, Barnes said.
“You’re talking about 50 feet of purely open space between where the rear wall of the fourth floor proposed addition ends and the alleyway,” Barnes said. “So there should not be any shadows cast on the alley and/or the rear yards of the Dayton residents.”
Barnes and Engelmann also said they’d reach out to Dayton residents and work with them on the project to address any of their concerns around the fourth floor.
Smith said views are not legally protected, but she encouraged the developers to work with neighbors on their plans.
The developers have not submitted plans to City Council or requested permits yet, Barnes said. The team is still looking for feedback from neighbors before finalizing its plans.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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