5150 N Northwest Highway Project
Q: Why is Northwest Side Unite opposed to the project at 5150 N. Northwest Highway?
A: The proposed buildings are HUGE. If the zoning is changed, it could allow for buildings up to a 120 feet high and up to 186 residential units. To give you a comparison, your home is about 25 feet high.
Q: How do my neighborhood organizations feel about this plan?
A: All neighborhood groups that have taken a stance OPPOSE this development, including: Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association, Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce, and Northwest Side Unite.
We also have:
Even with this strong opposition, Alderman Arena has not agreed to or attempted to work towards a compromise.
Q: Where does the idea of 4 stories or less come from?
A: The Gladstone Park Corridor Plan for economic development recommends allowing new buildings up to 4 stories.
The Plan was developed with Alderman Arena, Alderman Laurino, State Representative Martwick, State Senator Mulroe, a City Planner, The Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce and the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association. There were also 4 public meetings held to gather community input. 5150 NW HWY is explicitly stated as being within the boundaries of the Gladstone Park Corridor Study. There are no exceptions listed.
Moreover, this section of land, with proximity to the Metra station and the Jefferson Park Transit Hub, was addressed specifically. At the October 2016 meeting it was agreed that new buildings within the corridor should be mixed use with businesses on the first floor and residents above. It was discussed and decided that it made sense to increase density nearer key transit areas like the Jefferson Park Blue Line UP TO 4 STORIES.
It is now clear that Alderman Arena had been working with developers on a proposal that specifically violates recommendations of the plan, while simultaneously working to create the Gladstone Park Corridor Plan and publicly supporting it. Neither he nor his representatives ever indicated another plan was in the works that would exceed the 4 story maximum.
Q: I thought this was going to be 3-story storage facility in 2015 when it was bought?
A: Yes, it was! LSC started working on that plan and Alderman Arena went behind their back to city hall and had their permits revoked. LSC sued them to regain their rights. A settlement was reached, that bargained away the 45th Ward residents' rights and required the support for this new plan of a 75 foot storage facility and up to a 120 foot residential building that will burden the area.
Q: What kind of lawsuit did Northwest Side Unite file and why?
A: We asked the courts to consider that the agreement with LSC violates our rights as residents to be heard through the planning and zoning commissions. The settlement prevents the commissioners from fairly considering our concerns or they risk LSC reinstating their lawsuit against the Alderman and the City.
Q: Are there other lawsuits pending against the Alderman?
A: Yes. There was a resident of the 45th Ward who believed the Alderman made a similar unilateral move against his rights and filed a similar lawsuit. That lawsuit was settled in favor of the resident.
Q: I read that this parcel was recently designated by Alderman Arena and the city as a key Industrial Corridor to bring high paying manufacturing jobs to the area. This project isn’t an Industrial Project is it?
A: No, this is not an industrial project and will not bring the high paying jobs the Industrial Corridor was intended to bring and which are needed in Jefferson Park.
In December 2012 Alderman Arena, Alderman O'Connor and the Chicago Plan Commission gave an official "Industrial Corridor"designation to the area Northwest Highway from Milwaukee north to Oliphant, in order to preserve the Industrial Corridors with the goal of attracting high-paying jobs to transit-served areas of the city.
Three years after giving the stretch the "Industrial Corridor" designation, Alderman Arena single-handedly and without community support down zoned the 5150 N. Northwest Highway parcel because he decided it should no longer be industrial. While he was busy changing land uses without input, Mayor Emanuel's Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative kicked off (in spring 2016). Northwest Highway is included in the list of Corridors for which plans will be created.
Q: What does B3-5 Zoning mean anyway?
A: It allows for high rises in a very small area that create congestion and crowding while increasing the strain on schools and infrastructure.
5150 NW HWY is seeking a zoning change to B3-5, the highest density zoning for Business and Commercial Districts outside of the Downtown Districts. A property zoned B3-5 is worth considerably more than a property worth M1-1 (the original zoning) or B3-2 (a typical compatible zoning) or B3-3 (the highest density zoning currently in the area).
No other property in Jefferson Park, including in the Jefferson Park Business District, is zoned B3-5. B3-5 zoning would allow for a Residential Building up to 120 feet tall and up to 186 apartments. 5150 NW HWY was originally zoned M1-1, which allows for residential storage facilities.
Zoning laws are quite confusing. But here is a chart that may help compare this proposal to other area existing and proposed developments. Notice that the lot sizes are among the smallest but the building square footages are the greatest. This means more floor space on a smaller lot - so a larger Floor-Area-Ratio, the measure of actual density allowed.