Other than a lengthy discussion over opening a daycare center across the street from a manufacturing company in Ald. Scott Waguespack’s 32nd Ward, it was a fairly uneventful Zoning Committee Meeting, with an abnormal number of applications for the construction of single family or multi-flat homes. According to testimony given at yesterday’s meeting, there is a “huge demand” for single family homes in the 11th, 35th, and 33rd Wards.

All items on the agenda that had previously been approved by the Plan Commission, including a new restaurant space for Pullman, a 138-unit apartment building for Logan Square, a new 190-room hotel for Old Town, and a new 190-unit residential apartment building for River West were approved at yesterday’s meeting. 

Attendance: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Joe Moreno (1), Brian Hopkins (2), Pat Dowell (3), Raymond Lopez (15), Marty Quinn (13), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), David Moore (17), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Brendan Reilly (43) Tom Tunney (44), Ameya Pawar (47).

Yesterday was the second time the committee heard testimony on a proposed two-story daycare center for 2611 N. Western Avenue, after the item was held at the May 17th meeting, because Ald. Waguespack wasn’t in attendance. Last month, aldermen present were very concerned about having tractor trailers coming in and out of Illinois Mechanical Sales, a heating equipment appliance parts supplier, at the same time parents would be dropping off their kids.

Red Cedar Partners, the applicant, sought a zoning change to build a two-story day care facility with a rooftop playground. Only five drop-off and five on-site parking spots are included in the plan, due to a rezone that would eliminate the parking requirement. Nick Ftikas, the attorney for the applicant, said the Windy City Fieldhouse would share its parking lot with the daycare facility to be operated by the Learning Experience.

Officials with the manufacturer, which is located across the street from the proposed daycare center, testified against the plan and brought in a traffic expert, Steve Corcoran, to explain the logistical issues at the May 17th meeting. At yesterday’s meeting, Corcoran and other planning experts hired by the company again testified against the zoning change, calling the triangle-sized subject site too small for a daycare center. Jack Foley, a representative with the manufacturing company, called the plan to put a daycare center at such a congested site “foolhardy, reckless, and dangerous.”  

“All we can do is put everyone on notice of the hazards, whether it be children run over by trucks, or first responders blocked from responding by traffic jams, or some other horrible event beyond our imagination,” said Foley.

Responding to those issues, Ald. Waguespack said a day care center near the proposed site has even less parking than proposed under this plan, and it has worked without issue. He also added that the nearby Target would pay for a new traffic light along Logan Blvd. to help with the traffic issue, and that he has been trying for more than a year to get the parking issue addressed. The item eventually passed unanimously by voice vote.  

Aldermanic Applications: 
All aldermanic applications, save for Ald. Proco Joe Moreno’s (1), were approved in committee. Moreno’s proposed rezone of a section of North Milwaukee Avenue by the Damen Avenue stop on the CTA’s Blue Line was deferred at Ald. Moreno’s request: 

  • Ald. Pat Dowell (3) sought a rezone of a vacant lot at 3911-3915 S. Calumet from a M1-3 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District to a RM-5 Multi-Unit District, which is predominantly for three-to-four flat homes. Dowell told the committee that she’s working with the city to help construct a “parade of homes” on the block, and that this lot, which she said was zoned inappropriately, was key to that plan.
  • Ald. Gilbert Villegas’ (36) chief of staff, Magdalena Fudalewicz, testified on behalf of the alderman’s request to rezone a CVS and adjacent parcel of land at 3633-59 North Central Avenue from a B3-1 Community Shopping District to an RS2 Residential Single-Unit district. She said the application was intended to make sure that any large project planned for the site goes through a community approval process.
  • Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) explained that he was sunsetting an old planned development (PD #709) at 330 North Clark Street and reverting the parcel to its underlying zoning: DC-16. A project by Freedman Development for the site, which would involve an addition to the existing Britannica building, is currently under review, said Ald. Reilly. He said that once complete, it’s likely that project would amount to a downzoning to a DC-12.
  • Ald. Marty Quinn (13) explained that his request, to make a fairly modest zoning change for 5652-54 West 64th Place, is in response to concerns from neighbors. The site is currently home to a vacant tavern “serving as a nuisance to neighbors”, said Ald. Quinn. He sought a change from an RS3 Residential Single-Unit (Detached House) District to an RS2 Residential Single-Unit (Detached House) to make the lot “consistent” with the surrounding area.

Other Highlights

  • Public Building Commission Appointment: The Zoning Committee approved the appointment of David T. Whittley, a pastor of the Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ in Garfield Park, to the Public Building Commission. The 11-member board maintains, acquires and facilitates the construction of city-owned buildings. Whittley replaces Albert Tyson III on the board, who transferred to serve on the Plan Commission. During his brief testimony to the committee, Whittley said he has served as a pastor in the West Garfield community for about 12 years. He replaced his grandfather, who served as the head pastor for 50 years. Ald. David Moore (17) had the most questions for Whittley, as no copies of Whitley’s resume were provided to committee members.
  • Six Business ID Signs Failed to Pass: Four business ID signs for 8312 South Chicago Avenue and two for 3402 North Kedzie Avenue failed to pass, according to Chairman Danny Solis (25), because the applications didn’t have the proper documentation. Ozco Sign and Lighting Company of Schaumburg was listed as the applicant for the permits.
  • Withdrawal: One application was withdrawn at yesterday’s meeting: an amended planned development application of 155 North Wacker Drive in order to “re-stripe the existing parking garage” in order to reduce the required parking from 163 spots to 144.
  • 8301-8333 S. Vincennes Ave (21st Ward): A rezone application from Chatham 8700, LLC to build a truck parking facility with 400 parking spaces. No buildings are planned for the approximately 16.5 acre site. Interestingly, no traffic study was conducted.
  • 5501-5525 S. Harlem Ave (23rd Ward): This rezone, from a C1-1 Neighborhood Commercial District and an RS2 Residential Single-Unit Detached House District to a C1-1 Neighborhood Commercial District, would facilitate the construction of a new Aldi’s with a parking lot for 67 cars and a neighboring single family home. The 18,707-square-foot grocery store will be located at the southeast corner of Harlem and Archer.
  • 2244 W. 23rd Place & 1902 W. Cullerton Street (25th Ward): These two items from Cloud Property Management are related. The first application for 23rd Place would facilitate the rehab and transformation of a vacant dance hall into a seven-unit apartment building. The hall has been empty for decades, according to Chairman Solis. “Right now it has pigeons living in it,” said the applicant’s attorney, Thomas Moore. The other application, for Cullerton Street, is considered a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) because of its proximity to the Damen Avenue stop on the CTA’s Pink Line. Cloud Property Management wants to renovate one of the two existing buildings on the lot by transforming the three-story, three-unit building into a six-unit building. The rear one-story building will remain as is for a total of seven dwelling units.  
  • 3142 N. Racine Ave (32nd Ward): An application from Gibbons Construction proposes to rehab the existing Christ Apostolic Church into apartments. No commercial space is planned, and six units and one-for-one parking would be provided. The change request was from a C1-1 Neighborhood Commercial District to a B2-3 Neighborhood Mixed-Use District.