City Council signs off on North Avenue Sears zoning changes

The full council voted July 24 in favor of changes, developer makes concessions

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

The Chicago City Council signed off on zoning changes that will allow the redevelopment of the former Sears location at the southeast corner of North and Harlem Avenues and the adjacent parking lot.

As Austin Weekly News previously reported, Highland Park-based Tucker Development is looking to turn the store into a mixed-use building with an unnamed "national grocery store" chain and "national health club" chain occupying the first floor, apartments on the existing second and third floors, and two more floors of apartments above those. The parking lot would have apartments and townhomes wrap around a resident parking lot.

The application cleared the City Council's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on July 9. The full City Council approved the application on July 24. Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), whose ward includes the development, held multiple community meetings on both the Tucker Development's initial proposal and several revisions. 

Supporters have argued that the development would revitalize a currently vacant corner and bring more customers to North Avenue businesses. Opponents, meanwhile, expressed concerns about density, a potential increase in traffic and the fact that all units would be rentals. Residents who lived along Nordica Avenue, directly east of the parking lot site, complained about having the structure towering over their back yards.

The application cleared the Chicago Plan Commission on June 20. On the day of the meeting, Taliaferro announced on his ward Facebook page that Tucker agreed to reduce the number of units on the Nordica side of the lot from 18 to 16 and install 90 feet of green space roughly in the middle of the block. Taliaferro also said that the developer agreed to "contribute $100,000.00 toward improvements to the playlot at Sayre Language Academy."

During the July 9 meeting, Dailha Acevedo was among several Nordica Avenue residents who argued that the concession weren't enough.

"We really don't want a four-story building where I look up and that's all I see," she said. "Density is really crazy. We're asking that 6 percent of those units not be there."

"The grocery is something the community has wanted for a long time and that Alderman Taliaferro has worked hard to bring to Galewood," said Judith Alexander, chair of the North Avenue District. "We hope and believe that this is only the first new residential project to be developed on the Chicago side of our district. Together with the four smaller projects already under development on the Oak Park side, we expect new multi-family housing to catalyze the revitalization of North Avenue, from Austin to Harlem."


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