City greenlights scaled-back U.S. Bank site proposal

City Council unanimously approves zoning changes necessary for redevelopment of 6650 W. North Ave.

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

The Chicago City Council unanimously approved the zoning change necessary to allow a mixed-use redevelopment of the former U.S. Bank building at 6700 W. North Ave., along with the parking lot to the east of it, at 6650 W. North Ave. 

The proposal went through some notable changes since Five Thirty One Partners LLC introduced it during 29th Ward Ald. Chris Taliaferro's July 17 community meeting. They no longer plan to put a building west of Church of Christ the Redeemer's Galewood campus, at 6746 W North Ave. Instead of putting one building at the east parking lot, they will construct two smaller buildings. And, in response to concerns about tenants at the new building being able to look into the back yards of the houses to the north, the balconies were shifted to face the side streets. 

Together, the two parking lot buildings will have 59 units, while the renovated bank building will have 

The refurbished bank building would have 36 units, and the plans still call for the first floor to house a daycare center and a new Galewood branch library — assuming the Chicago Public Library system approves it. 

The proposal cleared Chicago City Council's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on Nov. 19, and it got full council approval on Nov. 20. According to Marko Djuric, a partner at Five Thirty One Partners LLC, they plan to finish construction by mid-2021. 

Out of the two lots, only the 6650 W. North Ave. one required a zoning change. Under the final version of the plans submitted to the city, both buildings will be four stories tall, with 45 interior parking spots and 23 interior bicycle parking stalls allocated for each building. The west building would have 30 units, while the east building would have 29. The plans show the units would have two bedrooms and two bathrooms each. 

During the committee meeting, Thomas Moore, the attorney for the project, told the aldermen that at least six of the units will be affordable and all of them will be on site. 

As Austin Weekly News previously reported, the developer initially planned to significantly refurbish the bank building, converting the second floor into apartments and adding another floor on top of it, building a total of 36 units. 

Djuric previously indicated that the developer had a letter of intent from Goddard School, a Pennsylvania-based chain of preschools and daycare centers that has locations in Lincoln Park and several Chicago area suburbs. And Galewood residents have been lobbying for years for a larger alternative to the current Galewood-Montclare branch library, which is crammed into a single room at Rutherford Sayre Park Fieldhouse, 6871 W. Belden Ave. This year's state capital bill allocates up to $160,000 for a new branch. 

In an interview following the full council vote, CPL spokesperson Patrick Molloy said that the new branch library still isn't a sure thing. He indicated that the library system is still weighing several options and emphasized that, while the state funding was "progress," there still needs to be a way to fully fund the library. 

"We're still looking at all the options," Molloy said. "Until the funding is freed up, we're just going to keep on looking. "

He noted that, unlike suburban libraries, CPL doesn't have its own capital budget; therefore, it has to rely on city and state funding to build or renovate branch libraries. When asked how much more funding the library needs to make the branch possible, Molloy said that it would depend on the location and the extent of the renovation. 

CONTACT: igorst3@hotmail.com  

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