CHICAGO — A measure designed to protect vintage signs and murals across Chicago is one step closer to becoming law.
The City Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards approved the ordinance Tuesday, which was first proposed last month by Mayor Brandon Johnson and his floor leader Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).
The committee, which Ramirez-Rosa chairs, also green lit a 74-unit apartment building in Lincoln Square near the Western Avenue Brown Line, a music venue on Elston Avenue in Bucktown and numerous other developments and projects across the city.
The measures will now go to the full City Council Wednesday for final approval.
Under current city law, historical signs promoting small businesses can be torn down or whitewashed if property owners let their city permit expire, Ramirez-Rosa told Block Club last month.
The proposed sign ordinance would update city code, allowing business owners to preserve commercial signs that are least 30 years old and have “significant iconic or cultural value that contributes to the distinct visual identity and character of the neighborhood … or city as a whole.” The permits would be subject to an additional city review.
The sign ordinance was sparked by an effort in Logan Square to save the Grace’s Furniture sign at 2616-18 N. Milwaukee Ave., which has sat vacant since the early-to-mid 2000s. Developers Blue Star Properties and Marc Realty are planning to transform the building into a mixed-use project with the Logan Square Athletic Club as its anchor tenant.
The ordinance also applies to murals and painted “ghost signs” around the city. Last year, the owners of Memo’s Hot Dogs in Pilsen were temporarily unable to renew their business license because a mural featuring a hot dog on the side of the building was deemed a public way advertisement.
The updated sign ordinance “allows for more artistic murals and options for small businesses to decorate,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
A music venue in an industrial section of Bucktown near the Chicago River was also advanced by the zoning committee Tuesday.
Plans shared with the Chicago Plan Commission last month call for an up to 1,000-person capacity venue and expansive outdoor patio to be constructed at 1675 N. Elston Ave.
Owner 1675 Holding LLC is managed by nightclub operator Nick Karounos, who also runs Concord Music Hall in Logan Square, PRYSM Night Club in Lincoln Park and Radius in Pilsen.
The business will be called The Outset, according to renderings.
The venue will sit just around the corner from longtime Chicago venue and bar The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., and a few blocks north of the Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave., the expansive entertainment complex which opened last year.
Lincoln Square Apartments
The committee also advanced a 74-unit apartment building near the center of Lincoln Square, the latest in a series of new developments planned for the area.
The mixed-use building, 4632-4644 N Western Ave, will include 15 affordable units across six stories. A transit-oriented development, developer BGD Western LLC plans to construct 10 off-street parking spaces. 3900 square feet of retail space will be available on the ground floor.
The affordable units will include a mix of 2-bedrooms, 1-bedrooms and studios, according to Ald. Matt Martin’s (47th) office.
“This proposal is consistent with the goals of the 2019 Lincoln Square Master Plan and the recently complete Western Avenue Corridor Study to increase density and affordability along Western Avenue generally and in our Lincoln Square community specifically,” the alderperson wrote in a statement Tuesday.
The building is the latest proposed development for that stretch of Western Avenue.
Last year, City Council approved plans to convert a city-owned parking lot at 4715 N. Western Ave. into a six-story, 63-unit affordable housing project after years of community planning and delays.
The zoning committee also approved a 50-unit apartment building in Little Italy at 1434 W. Fillmore St. and a 47-unit building at 3348-3358 W. Foster Ave. in North Park.
A landmark designation for the Greater Tabernacle Cathedral, 11300 S. Martin Luther King Dr., in Roseland was also advanced. The church, formerly known as Holy Rosary Parish, was designed by Pullman architect Solon Beman and was once the headquarters of the Developing Communities Project.
That organization’s first director was then-community organizer Barack Obama, who worked out of the church, according to a landmark presentation.
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