LINCOLN SQUARE — Neighbors worry a developer’s plan to build 17 apartments at the St. Matthias Catholic Church rectory could cause more flooding and traffic congestion in the neighborhood.
Developer CKG Realty Group, LLC wants to convert the existing rectory at 2300 W. Ainslie St. into a nine-unit apartment building and build another eight-unit building on the lot, according to plans shared with Ald. Andre Vasquez’s (40th) office.
Three apartments would be designated affordable and the rest would be market rate, according to the plans.
The St. Matthias Church property is not part of the proposal, the Archdiocese of Chicago, Vasquez and the developer previously said.
Developers pitched their proposal to neighbors during a Wednesday night meeting hosted by Vasquez.
Scott Schiller and Gray Schiller of CKG are a father-child team working on their first development together. Scott Schiller, a veteran Chicago developer, said he hopes is for the family to continue managing the apartments over generations if the project is approved.
“We hope that one of the reasons that the community finds this to be a desirable product is that our understanding that there’s been a real loss of multifamily product in the neighborhood. A lot of multifamily buildings have been demolished and replaced with high end single-family homes. So it’s been harder for a family to afford to live in the neighborhood,” Scott Schiller said.
Most of the 60 people at the virtual meeting were critical of the proposal. They opposed losing green space at the rectory lot, which the community currently uses as an unofficial park that they say helps absorb rainwater during severe storms.
Neighbors were also concerned construction traffic and equipment could congest residential side streets around the intersection of Ainslie Street and Oakley Avenue.
Neighbor Pat Milhizer said he has already experienced traffic congestion due to construction trucks and equipment from crews that built four single-family homes at the church’s former eastern parking lot, 4935 N. Claremont Ave., over the last year.
Some of these issues included constant noise from crews working, trucks occasionally going the wrong way down Argyle or construction vehicles parked with idling engines for up to an hour on Claremont or Argyle, he said.
If approved, CKG’s project could potentially cause similar traffic and noise issues on the neighborhood’s residential side streets during construction, he said.
“I feel like we need a break from massive construction in this pocket right now. It’s a major safety issue, we all know there is a school right there and we have tons of child foot traffic,” Milhizer said. “I don’t see anything here today about construction staging and that’s been a problem in the neighborhood before.”
Scott Schiller said he’d be on hand to address any construction concerns as soon as possible and the city’s rules for flood water mitigation are stringent. He mentioned the stormwater requirements he incorporated into a project he built near Foster and Lincoln avenues.
“Underneath that building is a huge, basically a swimming pool, for stormwater retention,” Scott Schiller said. “I can’t speak directly to what the city is going to require of us, but I imagine there is going to be some sort of stormwater retention on our property here.”
The project needs a zoning change endorsed by Vasquez to move forward. The alderman will announce whether or not he supports the zoning change sometime in November. Neighbors can continue sending in feedback for the next two weeks using this website.
Vasquez said his preference is to support projects in the ward that provide on-site affordable housing above the minimum required by the city’s rules.
“Under the right conditions we should be able to break ground and have people living in these buildings in less than a year,” Schiller said.
St. Matthias is one of the parishes that was closed and merged with Queen of Angels, 2330 W. Sunnyside Ave., in Ravenswood last year.
The move was part of the archdiocese’s Renew My Church program, which aims to close and consolidate Catholic churches and schools to save money and create “more vital parishes.”
The archdiocese has previously said it does not plan to close the school.
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