I am pleased to report that the long-awaited development at the southeast corner of Howard Street and Ashland Avenue is underway with the demolition of the building that once housed the headquarters and printing site of Lerner Newspapers, the original publisher of the News-Star neighborhood newspaper. The site has remained vacant since Lerner left the location in the late 1980s.
Lerner sold the property in 1994, and over the years several development proposals for the site, including two strip mall proposals, were presented and ultimately rejected by the community and me.
In 2001, a residential developer proposed a condominium project for the site that won community approval. Unfortunately, the development proposal became mired in a dispute between the developer and the owner of the property, Single Site Solutions, which tied up the property for several years.
Finally, in 2004, Single Site Solutions decided to develop the property themselves and proposed constructing 33 townhomes, which would front on Ashland Avenue and Rogers Avenue, and 10 condominium units, which would front on Howard Street. After many changes to the plan as a result of community input, the community at a meeting in September 2004 overwhelmingly approved the plan, and the City Council later approved it as a planned development.
Since then, the project lay dormant. Although the delay was due in part to a lengthy remediation review by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), I also was concerned that the development team was dragging its feet.
Frustrated by the lack of progress, I asked the Chicago Department of Planning in February 2006 to begin the process of acquiring the property by eminent domain, and in November 2006 the City issued a request for proposals for other developers to develop the site.
This apparently motivated Single Site Solutions to move forward with their project, and earlier this year they applied for a demolition permit. The demolition of the existing building began late last month.
The development remains virtually identical to that which was presented to and approved by the community in 2004, with the exception of one less dwelling unit to allow for more green space. The development now consists of 32 townhomes and 10 condominium units, with four condominium units priced at a more affordable rate under the Chicago Partnership for Affordable Neighborhoods (CPAN) program.
The Planning Department is now reviewing the final construction documents. After Planning review, the developer will apply for permits with the City of Chicago Department of Construction and Permits. Jennifer LaSota, project manager for Single Site Solutions, says she hopes to have the first section of buildings completed by the end of next year.
Because it’s been three years since the community approval process, I have attached below the development site plan and renderings for two of the eight buildings. Building 1 is one of seven town-home buildings, which will front on Ashland and Rogers. All the town home buildings are nearly identical to Building 1. Building 8 is the condominium building, which will front on Howard Street.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my assistant, Michael Land, at my Ward Office either by e-mail or phone (773-338-5796).
Very truly yours,