It appears Zoning Chairman Danny Solis (25) will move forward with his plan to rezone a nearly eight acre plot of vacant land in Pilsen to prevent the development of a massive apartment building after a developer reportedly refused to comply with the neighborhood’s stringent affordable housing rules.

First reported by DNAinfo, Ald. Solis introduced an ordinance that would rezone a vacant parcel bounded by West 16th, South Newberry, South Peoria, and West 18th Streets from a Community Shopping District (B3-2) to a Limited Manufacturing/Business District (M1-2). According to DNAinfo, the zoning application is in response to a plan by developer Noah Gottlieb of Property Markets Group to build a large apartment complex on the vacant parcel. Ald. Solis demanded that at least 21% of the units be designated affordable housing and refused to support the plan through the plan development process until that criteria was met.

But instead of complying with the affordable housing requirements Solis enforces in Pilsen, Gottlieb reportedly decided to build a smaller building allowed as of right under the existing B3-2 zoning designation. Solis introduced a map amendment, the first item on today’s zoning agenda, to upzone the property to manufacturing, preventing any residential development to be built on the site. Manufacturing is considered one of the most strict zoning designations, and in the past, aldermen have used it as a tool to restrict new development and affirm local control. Any rezone from a manufacturing district requires a community review process and, in some cases, the green light from the city’s Plan Commission.

The parcel received its current zoning designation of B3-2 back in 2013 when Ald. Solis sunsetted an existing planned development (No. 1012). The Midwest Jesuits, which bought the land in 2009, are still listed as property owners.

Ald. Solis’ change request would fit somewhat with the existing zoning of the surrounding area. Properties directly across the street of West 18th are currently zoned for manufacturing, as is a parallel section of land between Morgan and Peoria Streets. But a portion along Newbery Avenue, which is located on the same block as the vacant parcel of land Ald. Solis wants to upzone, is currently zoned for residential homes with under 20 units.

If Ald. Solis is successful in obtaining the zoning change, public, civic or commercial uses would be allowed as of right. Any residential uses would need a special use permit. Neither Chairman Solis nor Gottlieb responded to our request for comment by publication.

Other Items on the Agenda

  • 2847-2937 W. Lawrence Ave (33rd Ward): Ald. Deb Mell wants to downzone a strip of vacant land a block east of the North Branch Chicago River from a Neighborhood Commercial District (C1-2) to a Neighborhood Shopping District (B1-1). Both zoning designations allow for a broad range of small scale business, retail or service uses. But they diverge in the range of uses allowed: a C1 district permits taverns and liquor stores by-right.

  • Two Mayoral Appointments: The Zoning Committee will take up two mayoral appointments: one to the Public Buildings Commission (PBC), the other to the Plan Commission. The former is an 11-member board that maintains, acquires and facilitates the construction of city-owned buildings. The latter is a 22-member board that reviews applications for planned developments citywide and projects along the lakefront, like the recent controversial Lucas Museum plan. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is transferring Albert Tyson III from the Public Building Commission to the Plan Commission, and replacing his vacant seat on the PBC with David T. Whittley, a pastor of the Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ in Garfield Park.  

    Tyson has served Saint Stephen African Methodist Episcopal Church since 1985, in addition to holding a slew of city-run board positions, including a the Board of Trustees for City Colleges of Chicago. Tyson replaces another member of the cloth on the Plan Commission: Bishop John R. Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the city’s Grand Boulevard neighborhood. Bryant, who was appointed to the commission less than a year ago in the summer of 2015, was vocal advocate of affordable housing, opposing a handful of applications for its lack of on-site affordable units.

  • Two projects in Pullman (9th Ward): One project from neighborhood group Pullman Artspace will be an affordable artist live-work space, the other plan from non-profit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives will be a cluster of restaurants to serve the increased number of tourists visiting the recently designated Pullman national monument. A team of art and neighborhood organizations are behind a plan to transform a 18,500 square foot parcel of vacant land and the two adjacent historic, three-story apartment buildings on South Langley Avenue into affordable housing for artists. All of the units in the Pullman Artspace Lofts will be made affordable.

    Thirty-eight units are planned for the site, six will be located in each of the existing buildings and 26 units will be located in the newly constructed building which will be designed to fit in with the surrounding historic landmarked buildings. The apartments will range from studios to two-bedrooms, or 750-square-feet to 1,100-square feet. Rents will range from $295 to $863 a month.

    The other project, a proposed multi-tenant restaurant, will be located at 720 East 111th Street, right off the expressway to the neighborhood. DPD Commissioner David Reifman helped get this project off the ground when he was a zoning attorney at DLA Piper. When the item went before the Plan Commission in May, David Doig, President of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, said the development team is moving forward with lease agreements for a Potbelly and Chipotle. Doig is a veteran of the city’s Housing Department, DPD and the Park District under the Daley administration. The two will be the first fast casual restaurants to set up shop on the far South Side in over two decades, Doig said. The organization is saving an adjacent parcel for a “Chicago restaurant” they plan to open at a later date.

  • Three Proposed Historical Landmark Designations: The Stone Temple Baptist Church Building (3620-3624 W. Douglas Blvd.) in the 24th Ward; the Commercial National Bank Building (125 S. Clark St.) in the 42nd Ward; and a group of residential buildings in Old Town known as the Artists Colony (150-160 W. Burton Place) are up for landmark designation by the committee.

    Stone Temple Baptist in North Lawndale regularly hosted speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and served as a synagogue for Jewish immigrants fleeing anti-Semitism in Romania, according a release from the Mayor’s office. The Commercial National Bank Building, once CPS headquarters, is the city’s oldest high-rise commercial bank building. Blue Star Properties Inc., the building’s owner, is spending $21 million to rehab the building. If the bank is given landmark status, it would qualify for a Class L property tax break from Cook County. Total tax savings would be approximately $13.9 million over the next 12 years, the Mayor’s office says. The Old Town Artists Colony, a group of 12 buildings and five coach houses, were remodeled between roughly 1920 and 1940 by a group of artists including Edgar Miller and Sol Kogen. The landmark designation would protect the buildings’ exterior elevations, as well as select walls, fences, gates and sidewalks, from alteration or demolition.

  • Proposed Hyde Park Hotel (5th Ward): The 90-foot, 100-room boutique smart hotel the Olympia Companies have planned for Hyde Park will be the second of its kind along 53rd Street. It’ll be located at the corner of 53rd and Dorchester, just two blocks away from the recently opened Hyatt Hotel. The Hyatt will share its parking garage with the new hotel. The project received the green light from the Plan Commission in May (1401 E. 53rd Street).

  • Essex Inn Revamp (4th Ward): Already approved by the Chicago Plan Commission, Oxford Capital Group’s redevelopment plan for the Essex Hotel awaits consideration by the Council’s Zoning Committee. The developer plans to build a 57-story tower adjacent to the Inn at 800 S. Michigan Ave. It will replace the existing parking garage. The new building will include hotel rooms on floors two to six, a restaurant on the seventh floor, a pool on the eighth, and 476 residential units on the remaining floors. The Essex Inn will be rehabbed to include 290 hotel rooms. In May, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks recommended that the building be designated an official landmark. That designation has yet to advance to the Council. (800 S. Michigan Ave)

  • Uptown Housing Development & Theater Restoration (46th Ward): The Wilson Avenue Theater would be restored as part of a plan by Cedar Street to redevelop the neighboring vacant parcel into a seven-story apartment building. Since the project is located a block east of the CTA’s Wilson Avenue Red Line stop, the project is considered a Transit Oriented Development (TOD). That designation means that the developers have to provide only 16 parking spaces for the 102 unit building. (1050 W. Wilson Ave.)

  • Another South Loop Parking Lot Turned Residential High Rise (4th Ward): Developer Keith Giles is seeking to establish a planned development to build a 26-story mixed-use residential building with ground floor retail and 320 apartments. Ten of those units will be made affordable. Plans also call for a rooftop pool. The measure passed the Plan Commission in May. Giles has been involved in several other historic and high rise developments. (1136 S. Wabash Ave.)

  • New Parking Lot for North Park University (33rd & 39th Wards): North Park University filed an application with the city to incorporate land it already owns into an existing planned development (no. 707) for the construction of a surface parking lot. According to the Plan Commission agenda, the parking lot will hold up to 79 cars. The university is seeking a rezone of underlying zoning of the planned development to make that possible. (5001 N. Kedzie Avenue)