The Council’s Zoning Committee approved the appointment of David Reifman as the new Commissioner for the Department of Planning and Development, in addition to approving zoning changes to permit a handful of large-scale development projects, such as a 47-story residential high rise in Streeterville and a 70-unit, family-oriented residence in the West Loop.

With few aldermen on hand at yesterday’s meeting, most of whom trickled in and out of the Chambers, the committee spent under five minutes for each application, finishing the 21-page agenda before lunch. All zoning applications, excluding those deferred at the request of the local alderman or lawyer, passed. Zoning Chairman Danny Solis (25) will recommend passage on all but two of the approved items at the City Council meeting today.

Attendance (members in bold): Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman James Cappleman (46), George Cardenas (12), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore(17), Walter Burnett (27), Marge Laurino (39), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney(44), Ameya Pawar (47), Harry Osterman (48)

Approved Appointments

David Reifman received a lot of praise from committee members. Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) said Reifman has a “breadth of experience” that DPD will benefit from, while Ald. Toni Foulkes (16) said she’s looking forward to working with him on two new development plans in Englewood.

After Reifman’s brief statement expressing excitement to work on the Mayor’s second term agenda, Ald. David Moore (17) went on offense. “How do you balance the Mayor’s agenda with what I call the people’s agenda?”

Reifman said those two things are synonymous, telling Ald. Moore the Mayor is looking to incentivize more transit oriented development, revitalize local retail corridors, and give tax incentives to businesses that commit to investing in underserved areas. But Moore continued to push Reifman, asking him to explain whether aldermen should have more local control over development projects and TIF funds. After Moore rephrased the question several different ways, Reifman expressed confusion, “Alderman, I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking me to say.” He said he sees the alderman’s role as very important, but there are a lot of stakeholders that need to be taken into account.

Moore ultimately voted in favor of Reifman’s appointment.

The committee also approved several appointments and reappointments to the Public Building Commission and the Building Board of AppealsAlbert Tyson, III and Hector Rico were the only two new appointments out of the bunch.

Tyson, an appointee to the Public Building Commission, is the presiding elder for the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Chicago’s West Side. Prior to that, he spent 26 years at another West Side church, St. Stephen African Episcopal Methodist Church. The PBC is an 11-member board tasked with maintaining, acquiring and building public facilities across the city, including schools, libraries, parks, and police and fire stations. Ald. Moore, who was worked with Tyson, vouched for him.

Rico is the executive director for the Latino Organization of the Southwest, a non-profit that helps immigrants and at-risk youth on the Southwest Side. Rico will serve on the Building Board of Appeals, a nine-member board that hears appeals from the Commissioner of the City’s Building Department.

Approved Applications (The Highlights)  

47-Story Residential Highrise in Streeterville (42nd Ward) – Jupiter Realty and Pappageorge Haymes are behind a plan to build a 513-foot residential tower that will house 444 residential units north of the Sheridan Hotel in downtown Chicago. There will be commercial retail and a residential lobby on the first floor, a parking lot for 181 cars on the second through fourth floors, and residential units on the subsequent floors.

“This is really the last undeveloped parcel on this block,” Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) said, adding he’s especially thrilled the developer has agreed to revamp the neighboring Ogden Plaza, which he called the “derelict open space in the heart of Streeterville.”  

“So we’re going to see a dramatic aesthetic improvement for the neighborhood, finally usable open space, where it is very much needed,” he added. According to the applicant’s attorney, John George, the developers increased the building’s height at the request of local community groups whose members wanted the units to be bigger. To start construction on the project site (465 N. Park Dr.), the applicants sought an amendment to the existing Residential Business Planned Development (No. 368). The project received Plan Commission approval earlier this month.

Family-Oriented Residential Building in West Loop (25th Ward) – A luxury condo developer received approval to up-zone a property in the West Loop for a new six-story, 70-unit residential building. Alan Lev, with the Belgravia Group, said all of the units will be “family-sized” with 2,000+ square-feet, three bedroom three bath units. “There is a real need in the West Loop community for primarily residents who live there already, and lived in one-and-two bedroom units, and who want to stay in the neighborhood,” he said. Belgravia had two other projects of similar size in the ward that sold out quickly, he added.

Residential Development Near Sheridan Red Line Stop (46th Ward):  Loukas Development got the green light to build an 8-story mixed-use development near the Sheridan Red Line stop. Loukas is affiliated with George Loukas, owner of the Cubby Bear and Sports Corner bars and rooftop buildings that overlook Wrigley Field. The developer wants to demolish the existing 3-story vintage building on the 3900 block of N. Sheridan Road and replace it with a 54 unit building with 3,100 square feet of commercial retail space and 27 parking spaces.

The original proposal called for 60 units and 24 parking spaces, but according to DNAinfo, members of East Lakeview Neighbors expressed concerns about density and traffic. Developers made significant changes to the architectural style of the building, changing the original design, a modern structure with floor to ceiling windows and thin, metal paneling, to a pared down stone and masonry vintage-inspired building. Vice Chairman James Cappleman (46) said he prefered the modernist design, but ultimately went with what the community wanted.  

North Side Museum Gets Zoning Change (48th Ward): The Swedish American Museum Association of Chicago got approval to up-zone their museum in Andersonville, to obtain a Public Place of Amusement license to host receptions and events on site. In an unusual move for the committee, attorney Thomas Mooreasked Ald. Harry Osterman (48) speak on behalf of the applicant.

New Condos for Avondale (33rd Ward): Dorel Ardelean got the okay from the committee to build one of three condo buildings in Avondale. Intending to build the residential complex in phases, Ardelean filed an application for the first building, which he wants to construct on an irregularly shaped vacant lot on the corner of Belmont and Elston Avenues (2854 W. Belmont Ave). Plans call for a three-story condominium with 9 residential units and basement, and detached garages, at the back of the building, with enough space for 12 cars. According to the applicationArdelean filed with Ald. Deb Mell’s office, the full plan calls for two additional three-story, six-unit buildings. DNAinfo reported residents were disappointed none of the buildings will contain retail.

Deferred Items 

We previously highlighted three applications filed by Buffalo Grove-based real estate firm Svigos Asset Management to repurpose three shuttered CPS schools for residential development, but those and a dozen other applications were immediately deferred.

Two applications on the deferred agenda that were approved yesterday will be held in committee. An application for a 30-story mixed-use building next to the Cabrini Green row houses will be held, per request of the attorney. Chairman Solis is holding the other application for a proposed 354-unit residential highrise in his ward’s Near West Side community.

Ald. Joe Moore (49) asked to defer an application to rezone 6453-55 N Newgard Ave. from RS3 Residential Single-Unit (Detached House) District to RM4.5. The applicant, 6453 N Newgard Inc., is seeking to add two additional residences in addition to the six existing on site. The plan also calls for more parking spaces.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40) requested deferral for an application from Svigos Asset Management Inc. to rezone a former school building at 5200 N. Ashland from RS3 Residential Single-Unit District to B3-3 Community Shopping District. The plan calls for a complete renovation of the building’s interior, including the rehabilitation of the existing community theater on the first floor and the 49 residential units that will be added on the top floors.

O’Connor also held an application from AB Marathon Ltd., which is seeking a zoning change from RS3 Residential Single-Unit District to C1-1 Neighborhood Commercial District in order to add one story to an existing motor vehicle repair building.

John George, of law firm Scuyler, Roche & Crisham PC, representing Oakley Building LLC, requested a deferral on the proposed zoning change for 2817 N Oakley in the 32nd Ward. The requested change is from M2-3 Light Industry District to RM4.5 Residential Multi-Unit District, which would allow for the construction of 11 residential units with 13 parking spaces.

A proposed zoning change from C2-2 Motor Vehicle related Commercial District to C2-5 Motor Vehicle Related District and then to a Planned Development in the 32ndWard was deferred pending Planning Development Commission approval. The huge proposal calls for 240 apartment units and retail space at 2434-2436 N Sacramento Ave, 2456-2496 N Milwaukee Avenue, 2500-2544 Milwaukee Ave. and 2401-2467 N Linden Pl.

The Law Office of Samuel VP Banks, representing Svigos Asset Management Inc., requested a deferral on a proposed zoning change from RS3 Residential Single-Unit District to B2-3 Neighborhood Mixed-Use District for a former school property at 739 North Ada Street. The proposal calls for the conversion of the school property and into an all-residential building and construction of a new building on site for a total of 57 units. According to the application, the property is still owned by the Chicago Board of Education.

Attorney Thomas Moore, on behalf of VCP Opportunity Fund II, LLC Series III-917 W 18th St., requested a deferral on a zoning change at 917-925 W. 18th Street. The change, from M1-2 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District to B2-3 Neighborhood Mixed-Use District, would allow for the renovation to a mixed-use retail space with 26 residential units on the top floor.

The Law Office of Mark Kupiec & Associates, representing Fox Chicago LLC, deferred an application for a zoning change at 1414-46 W. 21st St. and 2013-25 S. Laflin St. The change from M1-3 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District and C1-2 Neighborhood Commercial District to B2-5 Neighborhood shopping district, would allow for the rehabbing of the building and the establishment of commercial units on the ground floor and 99 apartment units.

Kupiec also deferred an application from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Chicago to change the zoning at 246-250 W. 22nd Place from RT4 Residential Two-Flat, Townhouse and Multi-Unit District to RM-6.5 Residential Multi Unit District. The applicants are seeking to demolish an existing building in order to erect an eight-story building with commercial space on the first two floors and housing for the elderly above.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) deferred several applications to rezone properties within his ward. The first application from 56 W. Huron LLC is seeking a change from DX-5 Downtown Mixed-Use District to DX-7 Downtown Mixed-Use District. The proposal calls for an 11-story, 11-unit condominium development with parking on the first floor.

Hopkins also deferred action on a proposed change at 1728-1748 N. Clybourn Ave. from B1-2 Neighborhood Shopping District to B2-5 Neighborhood Shopping District. The proposal, from The Richden Company, calls for a six-story, 68 unit apartment building with 68 parking spaces, and a proposed change at 1011-1023 N Ashland Ave from B1-2 Neighborhood Shopping District to B2-3 Neighborhood Mixed-Use District. Applicant Virage LLC is seeking the change to construct a four-story building with retail at grade and 33 residential units above.

The alderman also deferred judgement on an application from Robert Picchietti for a zoning change at 1623 N. Milwaukee Avenue, from M1-2 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District to C1-2 Neighborhood Commercial District. The building will be used as a restaurant.