Why North Ave. District supports Sears redevelopment

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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North Avenue District Inc. has been working since 2013 to revitalize North Avenue from Austin to Harlem. We support the projects proposed for the former North/Harlem Sears site and the Wabansia/Neva parking lot to its east. We also believe plans can continue to be improved in response to community input. 

We support the projects because:

 Community members are in favor of more multi-family housing on North Avenue. 

We worked hard with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to survey Galewood residents for the North Avenue revitalization plan. Altogether, 800+ of these residents took a survey in 2018. (Everyone living between Armitage and North Avenue, Austin to Harlem, got a postcard asking them to do so.)  

More than half favored new multifamily housing on North Avenue. Only 17% opposed it.

 A team of real estate professionals from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently assessed North Avenue (Austin to Harlem) as an excellent location for multifamily development. They wrote in their report: "The panel expects new, well-designed residential development to lead North Avenue's revitalization." They said it's an ideal location for such projects, citing service by multiple bus lines, as well as proximity to Metra and a variety of shops and services, at lower prices than downtown.

 Today's market-rate renters are tomorrow's potential homebuyers in our community, per ULI. Others are downsizing seniors who wish to remain in the neighborhood.

 Renters already occupy many of the units along North Avenue, including a number of condominiums owned by investors, and have generally proven to be good neighbors.

 Multifamily development is needed for North Avenue to thrive — to replace vacant properties, to provide more customers for our many fine businesses, and to add vitality. There are now numerous commercial vacancies because the supply of retail and office space exceeds demand, due to the Internet and other factors. (As of December 2018, the estimated vacancy rate was almost 20% for retail and at least 12% for offices.)

 Tucker Development is an experienced organization with a good reputation and solid track record.

Judith Alexander chairs the North Avenue District Inc., an independent 501c3 corporation. Its board includes business/property owners and concerned residents from Chicago and Oak Park. Learn more about it on Facebook and join the conversation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/107435609823334/

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