The Chicago Plan Commission approved all items on yesterday’s agenda, including a proposed boutique hotel in the Gold Coast, a glass skyscraper in the downtown Loop, a new brewery and beer garden for Half Acre in Bowmanville, and another Whole Foods in Lakeview. The projects now advance to the City Council’s Zoning Committee for approval.
The meeting lasted for nearly four hours, with most of the public opposition directed toward the planned Viceroy Hotel in the Gold Coast. Developers are interested in demolishing the old four-story Cedar Hotel, and replacing it with an 18-story, 180 room hotel that would incorporate parts of Cedar’s historic, brick facade. Newly elected Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) testified in support, noting the “numerous” reductions the developer made to the original site plan. After several community meetings over two years, the developer cut 40 rooms and 53 ft. from the original plan, Hopkins said.
But those residents who testified against the project demanded more concessions. Nearly a dozen residents, most of whom were affiliated with the group Preserve our Dearborn, created specifically to oppose this hotel plan, demanded a shorter building and more parking.
“I think of [State St.] like a circulatory system,” concerned resident Jerry Silverman said. “That’s how things circulate in our neighborhood. When your circulatory system gets blocked up, you have a heart attack. And all I am suggesting is, that plan, as it’s laid out now, is going to give our community a heart attack.”
Nevertheless, the project received unanimous support from the Plan Commission, while another contentious development proposal, Half Acre’s proposed brewery for Bowmanville, did not.
Commissioner Linda Searl cast the lone vote against the beer company’s application to build a new brewery, taproom and beer garden in a predominantly residential neighborhood south of the Rosehill Cemetery.
Half Acre bought the subject site, 2050 W. Balmoral Ave., currently zoned as a manufacturing district, so they could expand operations outside their current location on Lincoln Ave., less than two miles away. Since the location is zoned as a manufacturing district, brewing is already permitted as right of way, but their proposed taproom with adjoining restaurant is not allowed under the current designation.
A handful of residents spoke in opposition to the project over concerns that the outdoor beer garden would bring additional car traffic and noise. “I dont want to raise my kids across the street from a liquor store,” local resident Ashley Katsia said, adding that the plans did not fit with the “tenor” of the neighborhood.
“The growth of Half Acre Brewery is requiring them to move, which is a wonderful thing for the city of Chicago,” Commissioner Patricia Scudiero said. The project architect, Angel Valtierra with Space Architects, added the company was interested in creating a “family-style” atmosphere. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Half Acre Brewery, said they wouldn’t be a nuisance to the surrounding residents.
Half Acre wasn’t the only application to receive a divided roll call vote. Vice Chairman Smita Shah voted against a proposed four-story, 18 dwelling unit at 3418-3420 North Lincoln Avenue in the 47th Ward. Since the project is adjacent to the Paulina station on the CTA’s Brown Line, it qualifies as Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which means the applicant, Lincoln & Roscoe, LLC, was allowed to reduce on-site parking by 50%, increase the number of residential units by a third, and add an additional five feet to the building’s height.
Resident Roberta Stevens testified against, telling the commission “I think the city should slow down on the TODs. Make sure you want to build it. It’s like watering a plant, and it grows, and grows, and grows and then it dies.”