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Opposition to Halsted development project continues
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

This article shared 2918 times since Tue May 15, 2012
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A broad and diverse coalition of 46th Ward residents and businesses is still at odds with freshman Ald. James Cappleman's office and JDL Development Corporation over the proposed 3750 N. Halsted St. development.

The development would replace the parking lot next to the IHOP on the corner of Halsted and Bradley in Boystown, just down the street from the Center on Halsted.

The proposed plan for 15- and 12-story towers would make this development, if approved and built, the largest building on Halsted north of the center of the city ( the Loop ) . The towers, based on the latest drawings, would include 270 apartments and 14,000 square feet of commercial space.

Currently the law in the 46th Ward states that no building can be more than five stories tall; however, the alderman's office wants approval for re-zoning so these towers can be built.

Opponents include at least 12 area condominium boards representing more than 800 residents; East Lakeview Neighbors ( ELVN ) , a member-driven group of local residents; the Northalsted Business Alliance, a local business organization comprising more than 800 businesses along Halsted Street; and Halsted Neighbors, a grassroots organization formed specifically to opposed the proposed development.

A five-person subcommittee ( chosen by the alderman ) made up of representatives from 828 W. Grace St., the Northalsted Business Alliance and East Lakeview Neighbors, along with an architect from the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee and another neighbor who lives on the northern edge of the ward voted four to one ( the representative from Grace Street, Patrick Nagle, voted against the measure ) April 4 to send the development through the city's zoning process.

The approval process, the design of the buildings, the impact on the community and the precedent it sets for future high-density developments are the biggest concerns that opponents have to the planned development. They are not opposed to developing the site; however, they want more transparency so all stakeholders are heard according to Halsted Neighbors.

Jim Ludwig, a 25-year owner of the nightspot Roscoe's and community leader, said, "This process was broken from the start, when so much of the information was being carefully managed and many half-truths were allowed to go unchecked. Northalsted has simply pleaded with the alderman to respect the current deliberate zoning and were disappointed when he refused.

"Our letter asked him to refer the proposal back for constructive negotiations before rushing it downtown to the city Planning Commission and we've been disappointed that he has refused to take this approach for a better outcome. We need to step back and look more closely at the impact of this proposed structure. I was only recently asked to represent Northalsted at the 46th Ward Zoning Committee meetings when I learned that a majority of their own sub-committee felt they had been ambushed by the process.

"My recommendation was the alderman shouldn't position himself to be an advocate for the developer. Let the developer answer to these controversial issues and let the alderman refrain from unwarranted advocacy. My many years of participation in these matters has led me to tread gently until more of the impact can be assessed and we have not reached that point yet for certain."

Justin Westcott, Halsted Neighbors spokesperson and resident and member of his Homeowners Association Board at West Bradley Place said, "I was personally in attendance for the last 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee meeting on April 30th at Weiss Hospital during which this development was discussed.

"Simply put, I was very disappointed and upset by the comments and actions of the alderman's office during this meeting. It is clear to me that the alderman thinks he has built an ironclad process that is working well. I don't doubt that he had the best intentions when he designed the process, but it is my strong opinion that the process is not working and that the 46th Ward is on the verge of suffering as a result of this."

"The process I have used to involve the community is one of the most inclusive and transparent processes that any alderman has ever used to make a zoning decision," Cappleman said. "I remain committed to fulfilling my campaign promise of involving the community and the Zoning and Development Committee to make major zoning decisions that affect the lives of all residents living in the ward.

"In the end, after the developer changed plans based on community feedback and suggestions by the committee who worked very hard on this development throughout the past eight months, I chose to honor the hard work of the 30-plus community members of the committee. Their decision to go ahead with this project is supported by best practices and is in line with the community's 46th Ward master plan.

"Because this is a $100 million-plus project, I was adamant that this decision would reflect the input of the entire ward and not solely a small group of neighbors living near the project. In the end, the Zoning and Development committee, including neighbors and businesses from the area surrounding the development, were 100 percent in agreement that they wanted a planned development rather than have something built there that fit the current zoning. They did so because they did not want a big-box development with increased traffic on Bradley Street."

James Letchinger, president of JDL Development Corporation, said, "Since September of last year, the alderman has directed us through an extensive community process. We have had more than 15 meetings, with large and small groups, as well as a number of meetings with the alderman's zoning committee and the City of Chicago's Department of Housing and Economic Development. The alderman's open and transparent process resulted in changes to the height, density, orientation, and use of our building. Our plan is to move forward and deliver a very high quality project that will be a tremendous addition to the neighborhood."

On May 24, the project moves to the Chicago Planning Commission for review and potential approval. Residents and business owners say the development would greatly conflict with the character of the community and the wishes of a majority of area residents who have felt left out of the process. They plan on making their own presentation at the May 24 city planning commission meeting and will be canvassing to increase awareness about the proposed project prior to the meeting.

See for more information. Also refer to .

This article shared 2918 times since Tue May 15, 2012
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