LINCOLN SQUARE — A Lincoln Square apartment project on pause since 2020 could finally move forward with a new developer.
In 2019, crews demolished the strip mall at 5035 N. Lincoln Ave. that used to house Boomer’s restaurant, a Pizza Hut and a chiropractor’s office, aiming to make way for two apartment buildings. The zoning change for that plan was originally approved by former Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th).
But construction stalled after the previous developer went bankrupt, Ald. Andre Vasquez said. There are only a few unfinished buildings on the southern half of the property and some foundation poured on the north end, Vasquez said.
Now, developer THNS LLC is asking Vasquez for a zoning change to build a mix of apartments, live-in studios and commercial space at the site, principal Vu Trieu said.
“Right now, nothing’s approved yet. But what we’re trying to do is finish the two properties,” Trieu said.
“There were a lot of challenges in really getting anyone to look at it to develop something,” Vasquez said. “We’ve gotten to do a lot of conversations and focus on trying to increase affordability and sustaining the local business district.”
The northern half of the property would have a five-story apartment building with about 47 units, 20 percent of them affordable, and possibly commercial and live-in studio space, Trieu said.
There are also plans for 15-car indoor parking garage and bicycle parking.
The developer is seeking a transit-oriented development designation because of the site’s proximity to the Western bus and Western Brown Line stop.
The market rate rent for a four-bedroom apartment would be about $5,300, $4,800 for a three-bedroom, $3,000 for a two-bedroom and about $2,300 for a one-bedroom apartment, Trieu said.
The affordable units would be for families making an average of 60 percent of the area median income, according to city rules. This would result in a one-bedroom apartment being about $1,100-$1,200, a two-bedroom apartment $1,300-$1,400, a three-bedroom $1,500-$1,600 and a four-bedroom $1,650-$1,750, said Trieu’s attorney, Rolando Acosta.
The preliminary design is subject to change based on feedback from the community and Vasquez.
The existing construction south of the subject site will be retained and completed under the prior zoning, Trieu said.
That construction could begin as soon as next week and be complete in six to eight months, Acosta and Trieu said.
The proposal for the northern half of the property needs a zoning change to move forward, Trieu said. If that is approved over the winter, construction could begin in the spring and take about a year to complete, Trieu said.
“We have to finish the southern part anyway, so we have time. And once we finish the buildings that are already there, we’re going to start right away on the new buildings if we get the zoning done,” Trieu said.
Some neighbors raised concerns during a Tuesday community meeting about construction disrupting parking and traffic along a section of Lincoln Avenue that is already congested during rush hour.
“Construction, we have to coordinate with [the Department of Transportation] due to potential disruption to streets. Obviously, we’d like to coordinate that with neighbors,” Acosta said.
Acosta said he’d reach out to Vasquez’s office before construction crews bring in materials for the work site so neighbors would have enough notice about limited street and alley access, and they’d seek to keep the time there is an obstruction “to a minimum.”
Vasquez told Block Club the proposal neighbors are now considering is likely due to his push to develop the Lincoln Square Arts District along North Lincoln Avenue.
“As part of our conversations about the streetscape improvements for over there, we identified what the opportunity sites were so that we can make sure to keep in front of mind,” Vasquez said.
That led to the creation of a “pitch kit” of what the completed streetscape would look like, which helped inform stakeholders and potential developers about long-term plans, he said.
“I think it is an exciting opportunity for folks looking at that area to know that it’s not just another building coming here, but we’re building a whole destination, we think, of the whole space,” he said.
Other developments on the Lincoln Avenue commercial corridor, north of Ainslie Street, and the neighborhood’s density got Trieu interested in the area, he said.
“Plus, we love Lincoln Square,” Trieu said.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: