Division-Ashland development in detail

Representatives of neighboring community groups join East Village Association directors. 

Sept. 19, 2011 board of directors minutes
Submitted by Stephen Rynkiewicz

President Greg Nagel opened the meeting at 6:30 pm to review development plans for 1601 W. Division. Scott Rappe, co-chair of the Planning, Preservation & Development committee, said revisions address the community's desire for a significant, dense, mixed-use and transit-oriented building.

Co-owner Rob Buono led the presentation to more than two dozen people at Leona's restaurant, 1936 W. Augusta. The 16,000-square-foot property consists of two parcels, the corner lot and a strip across the alley shared with Wendy's. Covenants will allow renters to use Wendy's parking lot but prohibit quick-service restaurant tenants.

The new plan calls for ground-level retail, second-story office space and five floors to hold 50 to 70 rental apartments. A bank has signed a letter of intent as anchor tenant.

Architect Jon Heinert of Wheeler Kearns Architects showed a site plan that locates the bank along Ashland Avenue, with two eastbound drive-through lanes and a sidewalk to the south. Two or three other tenants would front Division Street. Ten perpendicular parking spaces west of the alley and five to the east allow traffic berth on either side.

Development team: Rolando Acosta (from left), Paul Utigard and Rob Buono

Architect Jon Heinert of Wheeler Kearns Architects showed a site plan that places the bank along Ashland Avenue, with two eastbound drive-through lanes and a sidewalk to the south. Two or three other tenants would front Division Street. Ten perpendicular spaces west of the alley and five to the east allow parking berth on either side.

Second floor common space includes utilities, bicycle storage and exercise and art studios. The apartment floors each have 10 to 15 studio to two-bedroom units, and a green roof has a common deck facing Division and Ashland. There are no balconies. In perspective renderings, the poured-concrete building is roughly 80 feet, meeting the height of the office building across Division.

Planning co-chair Neal McKnight said that in meetings with Ald. Joe Proco Moreno he and Rappe had discussed a barrier on Division to restrict left turns to the bank, Wendy's and possibly Marshfield Avenue; drive-through traffic would turn south onto Ashland.

The property is zoned B3-2. Buono said it would need to be first rezoned B5 then established as a planned development to allow the parking exceptions. The plan does not add parking for the apartments, which Nagel and Rappe noted would be unique for a neighborhood development. McKnight said the Blue Line location justifies it. Buono added that the lack of parking would rule out a condo conversion.

Answering questions from the audience, Buono said the owners had grown confident enough in the rental market to propose the larger building. Chicago would require 10% of the units to meet affordability guidelines, and Buono said the building would be built without low-income tax credits. The owners are open to restrictions on types of retail such as pawnshops or smoke shops.

Directors Aaron Bilton, McKnight, Nagel, Rappe, Stephen Rynkiewicz and Tom Tomek continued to meet after the presentation, with Rich Anselmo also participating. Before turning to other agenda items, they agreed to request an additional briefing for the Oct. 3 EVA general meeting, although plans are too preliminary for a membership vote. The planning committee was directed to give Moreno written feedback and to seek a Division Street median extending west to Marshfield Avenue, where left turns already pose traffic issues.

• The board reviewed the general meeting with Pritzker School and agreed to publicize its Oct. 15 open house at 2009 W. Schiller St.

• Board members will continue to post yard signs the week before general meetings.

• EVA will ask local aldermen to expedite installation of its new metal community markers.

• Nagel will contact picnic attendees to invite them to the Oct. 3 meeting. Adam Burck of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to speak, and Native Foods Cafe, 1484 N. Milwaukee, will present a business minute.

• Mark Duntemann will report on the volunteer tree census in November.

• Dana Palmer will continue to reach out to Chicago Grand Neighbor's Association to jointly obtain and place dog-waste bag dispensers.

• EVA will seek a meeting with Moreno to review planning issues covered in the briefing document EVA presented him in April 2010. The website will republish its statements on efforts to consolidate parcels at 1600-1620 W. Chicago Ave. and future plans for the police station at 937 N. Wood St.

• The contest to gather illegal advertising fliers will be repeated at the Oct. 3 meeting and publicized in the newsletter.

• To mitigate added delivery traffic, EVA will seek a larger loading zone for Roots Handmade Pizza at 1924 W. Chicago and reversal of traffic flow on the 800 block of North Winchester.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm.


  1. Why does not having parking rule out condo conversion? Why aren't people without cars considered viable condo owners? My fiance and I have been car free for 10 years, and plan to raise our family without a car. We use I-Go four or five times a year, taxis even less. We own our place in this neighborhood, but would consider buying in building like this...if we could. And we're not alone.

    1. Hi Lindsay,
      I am really encouraged to hear about your non-car-ownership! This is what we have been arguing for years in regards to this site-there is no reason to require parking when one of the things that draws people to the location is likely to be its proximity to public transit. We need to move away from car-ownership as the default lifestyle assumption, at least in the context of dense urban neighborhoods.

      As far as your question: I reread the article and having been at the meeting, I think the developer's comment was taken out of context. I don't believe he was asserting that car-ownership is a prerequisite for condo ownership, rather that condo conversion could not be done because the current zoning requires one parking spot per unit. In order to eliminate parking from the development, the project will require some unconventional variances from current law. Since these will be granted for the specific development (which is currently proposed as rental), a conversion at some point to condo could not be done 'as-of-right'; it would require additional reviews and approvals.


The webmaster must approve your comments. Please be neighborly.