Book clubs at West Town library

By Jason Nosek, library associate

Chicago History Book Club: Please join us at the West Town Branch at 6:30pm Tuesday, Jan. 7 as we discuss the best-selling work “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” by Erik Larson.

If you cannot join us this time, please stop by the branch to pick up our next book, "There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America" by Alex Kotlowitz.

Adult Book Discussion Group: Please join us as we discuss "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes at 6:30pm Thursday, Jan. 23.

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Chicago Avenue plan expands to 59 apartments plus retail

East Village Association board meeting minutes
December 9, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Developers Steve and Randy Fifield of the Fifield Cos., attorney Larry Lusk and others came to present a new project they would like to build at 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave. Chris Fifield of Fifield Construction & Realty, who is Steve’s son, had presented to EVA the previous 39-unit mixed-use, live/work plan. However, Steve Fifield's company has taken over the project and will develop the site.

The new proposal is for a 4-story, 59-unit, mixed-use apartment building that would require a zoning change from B3-2 to B3-3. The ground-floor retail is split into 2 non-adjacent larger spaces, each of which can be further divided into multiple storefronts.

If built to the current zoning, the affordable housing component requirement would not kick in. However, at the larger size, 10% of the units would be required to be affordable housing. Fifield stated he would not include these units in the proposed mix, but would instead meet the requirement by paying into the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund. This requirement specifies $10,000 for each unit built; therefore he would be required to pay $590,000 into the trust.

Haddon apartments get nod, Ashland BRT gets closer

East Village Association membership meeting minutes
December 2, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

1515-17 W. Haddon St.

Mark Sutherland discussed changes to his project since his November visit with the East Village Association board. The original unit mix included 8 studios, 24 1-bedroom units, 8 2-bedroom units and one large 6th floor penthouse apartment with its own entrance. After hearing concerns about the lack of 3-bedroom units for families, Sutherland made adjustments to the unit mix, leading to a current proposal of 4 studios, 24 1-bedroom units, 8 2-bedroom units, 4 3-bedroom units and the penthouse for a total of 41 units, the same unit count as the previous proposal.

In the new plan, there are no longer borrowed-light bedrooms, and the average unit size increased. Additionally, the building height is down to 71.5 feet from 73 feet, with the height of the first five stories corresponding to the parapet on the building to the west of the project and the sixth floor set back from the facade.

Brininstool + Lynch Architecture chose light materials to play down the mass of the building, including pressed cement at the base and metal panels above reminiscent of zinc when wet. The project is aiming for LEED Silver certification with features such as photovoltaics on the roof, pervious paving and electric vehicle parking spots. Sutherland has also had discussions with Enterprise CarShare about possibly putting a few cars at this location.

The new Transit Oriented Development ordinance, passed in July, allows for reduced parking within 600 feet of public transit, the Division Blue Line stop in this case. Sutherland said parking spaces will be rented, most likely on a first-come, first-served basis.

Yet another Chicago Avenue apartment plan

1822-50 W. Chicago Ave., January 2013 rendering

Revised plans for a vacant stretch of Chicago Avenue would build additional apartments without enclosed parking across from Commercial Park.

Developer Chris Fifield, of Fifield Construction & Realty, proposes 59 apartments and added retail space in a four-story building at 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave. The East Village Association board meets Monday to review the proposal at 6:30pm, a block away from the site at West Town Bakery & Diner, 1916 W. Chicago Ave.

First-floor retail spaces are still planned on either side of a central entrance, topped by three apartment floors. But instead of enclosed parking, the latest drawings from the Pappageorge Haymes Partners architectural firm indicate 58 angle parking spaces and a trash enclosure accessed from the brick-paved Commercial Park alley. Only three parking spaces are reserved for the stores.

Units range from 498 to 1,438 square feet and include 5 studio, 18 1-bedroom, 24 2-bedroom and 12 3-bedroom units. There's no street access to Commercial Park, but Steve Fifield, Chris' father whose Fifield Cos. is a partner in the project, says the front and back of the building will have similar window sizes to overlook the street and the park.

The developers will stay on as landlord, but an earlier plan does not meet their profit expectations, says Steve Fifield. His firm is known as a high-rise builder, including the K2 apartment tower at 365 N. Halsted St.

Steve Fifield says a preschool is a prospective lead tenant and that other storefronts would rent to the likes of a gym or yoga studio, boutique, dry cleaner and restaurant or coffee shop. Chris Irwin of Jameson Real Estate represents the partners.

The EVA board has reviewed multiple versions of the project. The latest in January called for 39 apartments and nine live-work storefronts, with enclosed parking to mitigate alley traffic alongside the playground at 1845 W. Rice St.

Chris Fifield confirmed the unit mix to EVA in April, contradicting a Crain's Chicago Business report of 48 apartments plus retail space. Steve Fifield now tells EVA that construction and lending considerations ruled out two larger concepts.

Parcels in the Chicago Avenue property were considered in 2010 as a Chicago outpost of the Brooklyn Bowl nightclub and in a 2002 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill neighborhood plan as an extension of Commercial Park.

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno encouraged neighborhood groups to acquire the lots, purchased for $2.6 million in April. But a city land swap for the former 13th District police station was rejected and the station house at 938 N. Wood St. was converted to a Cook County Sheriff's warrant office.

Developer explores St. Boniface sale

The Illinois Housing Development Authority has denied Carefree Development's tax credit application for adaptive reuse of St. Boniface Church.

Carefree intends to submit a revised application early next year, and is negotiating with market-rate developers for possible sale of the property as housing for sale or lease.

“It is our intent to ensure the church structure is saved via IHDA funding and/or via the redevelopment of the property for market rate housing," Carefree Development president Phil Moeller told Saint Boniface Info.

In January 2013, Carefree took the lead in plans to develop the church at 1358 W. Chestnut St. as senior housing, and undertook construction to stabilize parts of the structure across from Eckhart Park. Carefree operates the Emerald Village senior complex in Schaumburg, plus senior developments in Elmhurst, Hoffman Estates, Homewood, Lake Villa and St. Charles.

Carefree met with Ald. Walter Burnett, state Sen. William Delgado and city staff, Moeller said, and all strongly continue to support the adaptive reuse of the church.

Reasons for the denial include regulations requiring the property to be fully zoned for its intended use and that the adaptive reuse costs would have brought the projects per unit cost to a level beyond which IHDA is authorized to approve.

East Village Association efforts to save the structure date from 1999, when the Archdiocese of Chicago planned to demolish the church, closed since 1990. Institutional Property Management bought the property in a 2010 deal structured with city agencies. IPM was unable to secure funds to preserve the rectory, which was razed the following year, or to obtain tax credits for senior housing in 2012.