UPTOWN — A developer has unveiled a scaled-back proposal to turn a Wilson Avenue retail strip into apartments, the third effort to redevelop the site.
Developers Ayman Khalil and Kareem Musawwir want to replace the single-story retail building at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. with an apartment building with 28 units. The project does not require a rezoning, but the developers are asking for zoning changes so they can build closer to the property lines and make the building taller, according to Ald. James Cappleman’s (46th) office.
It is the developer’s second proposal for the site and follows an earlier move from a different developer to build at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Dover Street.
In late 2021, Khalil and Musawwir unveiled a plan to turn the Wilson Avenue commercial building into two buildings with 34 total apartments and 34 parking spaces. The proposal included a second property on Dover Street with four of the units.
It is unclear why that version of the project was abandoned in favor of a new proposal, which includes fewer apartments and more setbacks than the earlier plans. Cappleman’s office and the developers did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
The latest proposal includes one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, according to plans shared by Cappleman’s office.
There would be 25 parking spaces; the developer wants a zoning change to reduce the mandated one-to-one ratio of apartments to parking spots. The ground-floor garage would be accessible via a driveway on Wilson Avenue that would require a new curb cut.
There also would be 14 bicycle spots and a building lobby entrance off of Dover Street.
This time, the developer is asking the city to reduce the required building setbacks from 50 feet to 15 feet on the Dover-facing side and from 30 feet to just over 3 feet at the back of the property, allowing them to build closer to the property lines. The developer also wants permission to reduce setbacks on the sides of the building from 2 feet to zero, according to Cappleman’s office.
The developer is also asking the city to allow it to build up to 66 feet high, which is over the 60 feet allowed under current zoning. Only the elevator penthouse would be above the 60-foot threshold.
The proposal will go in front of Dover Street neighbors in early March. They will offer feedback on the proposed zoning variances. Neighbors previously balked at the property setbacks, saying they are out of character with the surrounding historic district, said Scott Adams, president of the Dover Street Neighbors Association.
Most properties on Dover Street have a significant setback, he said.
“I have my doubts it’s going to be popular with neighbors,” Adams said. “Our concern will likely continue to be the setbacks.”
The developers have already applied for a building permit for the project, records show.
An entity tied to the developers bought the retail strip and parking lot at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. in August 2021 for nearly $2 million, records show.
The investment group is the second developer to try to build at Wilson Avenue and Dover Street.
In late 2019, developer Jody Libman sought to buy and replace the retail strip with a four-story, 40-unit building that had a garden level. Libman’s development required a zoning change. The Dover Street Neighbors Association rejected that request, according to Uptown Update, and Libman abandoned efforts to redevelop the site.
The existing building at 1359 W. Wilson Ave. — known to neighbors as the Happy Wash building — is home to The Mukase African Restaurant.
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