PORTAGE PARK — Revised plans for the redevelopment of the former Peoples Gas site near Six Corners have won over some neighbors after the developer tripled the number of planned apartments, among other project tweaks.
GW Properties, which has developed other Six Corners buildings, has been working for years to bring a large retail and residential development to the old Peoples Gas site.
After nearly two years, officials from GW Properties presented the latest plans for the nearly $100 million, massive multi-use Six Corners project at 3955 N. Kilpatrick Ave. Neighbors were clued in to the latest proposal at a Wednesday community meeting held at the Copernicus Center in Jefferson Park.
The updated proposal includes significant changes from the previous plans that received widespread criticism from the community for its suburban feel and minimal density.
The new renderings — at least the project’s fourth iteration — include four single-story retail buildings and a large, five-story residential building with 354 units. A previous version of the project included 110 apartments.
There would be a total of 330 parking spaces in the 7-acre lot bordered by Irving Park Road, Milwaukee and Kilpatrick avenues, developers said.
The revised renderings, designed by Pappageorge Haymes architects, received a green light from neighbors for its increased density, retail revision and smoother design, though concerns over increased traffic, green space and the amount of affordable units were also raised.
The residential building would have studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, as well as some three-bedroom duplexes, developers said. Full amenities such as a fitness center, a co-working room, a spa, a bike room, an outdoor terrace and in-unity laundry would be part of the complex.
Rent prices have yet to be finalized, though they would be market-rate, said Mitch Goltz, principal and co-founder of GW Properties.
Of the 354 units, a portion would be deemed affordable for people making at or less than 60 percent of the area median income under the city’s Affordable Housing Ordinance, which dictates that large-scale developments requiring a zoning change need to have at least 20 percent affordable units on-site.
“This site has been sitting for decades, it’s doing nothing for anybody with no community benefit,” Goltz said of the project. It would “bring new jobs, sales, residents. So, more people, more demand and more demand means more success. We believe in this area.”
Retail tenants have yet to be finalized, though developers hope it can be a mix of 10-14 restaurants and shops. Previous proposed tenants such as Amazon Fresh grocery store, a Burlington clothing store and a Panera Bread restaurant with a drive-thru have been scrapped, Goltz said.
Jesse Lapin, who lives behind the proposed development, was happy with the revised plans and thanked the developers for listening to the community.
“I’ve been very vocally opposed to each of the previous iterations and I want to say thank you — I feel like you actually took the community feedback and this is markedly better than what was proposed previously,” Lapin said.
Multiple neighbors echoed similar thoughts, sharing positive reviews of the updated project and its apartments, but made sure to express their worry for how the project would increase traffic that is already congested in the area.
With more developments near completion or recently completed adding to traffic, Lapin and other neighbors want to see modifications to Kilpatrick Avenue. Some folks suggested widening the street, adding larger sidewalks, adding a turn lane, a bike lane or closing parts of it all together.
Patrick Gorski, another nearby resident, was the only neighbor who spoke up entirely against the project for traffic reasons.
He also didn’t think there were enough parking spots for tenants in the residential building. The apartment complex would include 205 parking spots, which is .58 spots per unit.
“It quite literally takes 10 minutes to 15 minutes to go from Kostner [to the highway] … a matter of three blocks and this is going to dramatically increase it,” Gorski said. “I have to walk two blocks to get to my car because it’s all filled up from the Grayland construction and we’re not seeing the effects yet of the hospital that’s just been built there, which is a block away from this proposed project.”
Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th), who hosted the meeting, said he’d work with the city’s Department of Transportation to see what could be done to address the traffic concerns.
GW needs a zoning change and City Council approval to move forward with its latest plans should Gardiner approve them.
Jasmin Cardenas, who also lives close by, complimented the apartment’s design and how it will bring new people to the area. She took issue, however, with the affordability and the increased density compared to the minimal public green space on the property, citing already minimal walking parks in Old Irving Park.
“In order for gentrification to not be an absolute certainty with the development of this size, we absolutely need more than the Chicago minimum of affordable housing to be created so that there can be access to this beautiful community we live in,” Cardenas said.
Goltz said the team plans to work with the city’s Department of Housing to make sure the required elements for affordable units are met. The alderman also said he’d be vocal about that need.
Cardenas also asked if developers would consider minimizing or removing a retail building to make room for more public space on the property, since much of the green space that’s part of the project is for tenants only.
Goltz responded by saying removing or scaling back buildings is not financially feasible and the buildings are designed to meet the retail and residential demand.
Despite the concerns and requested tweaks, the meeting was positive and was seen as an improvement to the project, which has been in the works since late 2019.
Developers estimated that, should the project get the green light, construction could take two years with a phased opening of the retail component first and then the residential side. The project could be fully open by the end of 2026, Goltz said.
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