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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

24-Unit Apartment Complex Will Take Over Longtime Empty Lot In Jefferson Park

At last year's meeting, some neighbors and nearby business owners welcomed the density addition and an opportunity to fill a "janky lot of despair." Others said it does not have enough affordable units.

The proposed $9.5 million development at 4415 N. Milwaukee Ave. would have 24 apartments, 24 parking units in the back and a ground-floor of retail.
First Western Properties
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JEFFERSON PARK — A four-story apartment building on Milwaukee Avenue in Jefferson Park will take over a vacant lot after it received full City Council approval Wednesday.

The proposed 24-unit apartment complex at 4415 N. Milwaukee Ave., which will have 24 parking spots and 3,601 square feet of ground-floor retail space, was approved by the city’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards Tuesday and by the full council Wednesday.

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th), who was not present at last year’s community meeting about the development, sent a letter of support for the project, said Zoning Chair Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) at Tuesday’s committee meeting.

The building will have 18 two-bedroom units renting at $1,800-$2,200 a month and six one-bedroom units renting for $1,200-$1,500, developers said at the meeting last year. Three units would be earmarked as affordable for renters earning 60-50 percent of the area’s median income.

The project will be developed by First Western Properties. The lot, which has sat empty since 2004, could have only 13 units with its previous zoning, said Tyler Manic, an attorney for the developer previously said. The lot is currently used for parking by people who live in an adjacent building.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
The lot at 4415 N. Milwaukee Ave. has been vacant since 2004 and is currently used for parking by the tenants in the nearby building.

The development passed at City Hall Wednesday, despite objections from some Northwest Side neighbors, who say the development lacks affordable units and is not in line with the city’s revised Affordable Requirements Ordinance, which requires 20 percent of its units to be affordable.

Jennifer Jones, an executive committee member with the political group United Northwest Side, said it’s a shame this developer is able to skip the new affordability rules.

“Allowing [the developer] to skimp with three affordable units on-site, as proposed, instead of five is irresponsible and perpetuates housing segregation in our city,” Jones said. “We must hold developers accountable to the ARO to secure long-term housing stability and affordability.”

United Northwest Side, whose members have long expressed a need for more affordable housing on the Far Northwest Side, released a statement about the proposed apartment complex, saying that it supports developments of this kind but would have liked to see more units at lower rents, less parking spaces and more bicycle parking.

Paul Tsakiris, founder and developer of First Western Properties, previously said project leaders “are doing what we can.”

“The solution to affordability is density,” Tsakiris said. “We have to walk a fine line trying to meet the needs of the community and stakeholders. There are lots of stakeholders in an investment that has not produced a lot since 2004.”

At last year’s meeting, some neighbors and nearby business owners welcomed the opportunity to fill a “janky lot of despair.”

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
The lot at 4415 N. Milwaukee Ave. has been vacant since 2004.

The building was originally proposed to be six stories high when it was brought to Gardiner in 2019. The aldermen met with neighborhood groups that opposed the height and design elements.

Tsakiris said it’s too early to know the scope and timeline of construction, but local business owners will be the first to know.

Tsakiris has owned the lot since 1998. After a 2004 fire destroyed a three-story building there, which included a bowling alley, Tsakiris tried unsuccessfully to sell it. He eventually decided to develop it himself.

“I think we have a project we can be proud of… . We have been your neighbors since 1998,” said Tsakiris, who grew up on the Northwest Side. “We look forward to getting rid of the parking lot, which is frankly a little bit of an eyesore.”

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