Hermitage rezoning sought to build apartments

1115 N. Hermitage Ave.

EVA members will vote July 9 on a zoning change for the building that houses the Tropikava Kafe juice bar. Rezoning would allow conversion to 7 apartments with limited parking.

The owner of 1115 N. Hermitage Ave. plans to convert the 4-story building from a storefront and 3 apartments. Plans submitted for EVA review would renovate the storefront as a new apartment and build 3 apartments over the existing garage.

The vote would advise Ald. Proco Joe Moreno on whether to support a zoning change in the City Council. The EVA meeting starts at 7pm in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. The meeting also features presentations from Delia Ramirez, Democratic candidate for 4th District state representative, and Elizabeth Nungaray of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Owner Marland Hobbs provided this statement to EVA members:

"I am a live-in landlord who is committed to the East Village community for the long run. I am an advocate for respectful development that meets the needs of our changing community. Specifically, I believe this redevelopment will

  • "1) improve the safety of the alleyway behind the Anthem Bar by having more eyes in the sky to oversee activities / foot traffic in the alleyway
  • "2) domesticate the trash filled alleyway with a green roof and a green space in the middle of the lot
  • "3) establish a clear line between residential and commercial in the East Village area and
  • "4) hopefully encourage more future live-in landlords.
"I currently live directly above the Tropikava Kafe, the commercial space, with my fiancé."

EVA's review committee recommends rejecting the zoning request.

In a draft letter to Moreno, Planning, Preservation and Development chair Brian Foote says that while commercial uses are out of place on a side street, Hobbs is asking for a business rezoning intended for retail-residential mixed uses.

A storefront conversion to housing would be "welcome," Foote says, but an 7-unit building would be out of place on a block of 3-flats. The Hermitage building is already a floor taller than its residential neighbors and lacks a front yard. The new units would require a Transit Oriented Development waiver of parking requirements.

In April, the committee suggested a change to residential 4-flat zoning to better match the building's surroundings.

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