Alderman Danny Solis (25th Ward) hosted his first Near West Side community meeting last night at the Merit School of Music and he heard firsthand how protective the neighborhood’s residents are about green space, parking and density.
The subject of the gathering was a proposed residential building at 200 South Green Street between Jackson and Adams, on what is now a surface parking lot on the western border of Greektown.
The community meeting notice said the project would be a six-story, 40-unit development. But the specs outlined by architect Ron Vari, Jr., of R. Vari And Associates, and John A. Fritchey of F4 Consulting, was a larger, and denser project — nine stories and 60 units. The difference between the two designs drew criticism from many of the 40 residents in attendance, who questioned whether even the current design could be trusted.
Fritchey explained that the project was a work in progress and the increase in scope and size was made just 10 days earlier, after the meeting notice had already been sent out. He also said feedback from neighborhood groups like the West Loop Community Organization, was taken into consideration. To residents who expressed skepticism about the change, Fritchey offered a commitment to provide a restrictive covenant to verify F4 and its partners would deliver what they proposed.
Fritchey added that F4 was in no hurry to begin, saying that it’s more interested in doing the project the right way. The April 29th meeting was a preliminary one, he said, held to take the temperature of area residents. Several of those residents questioned the lack of green space, the impact on limited parking in the area and the potential strain on the already overcrowded Skinner West Elementary School.
Parking was one of the key areas in the redesign from the first plan, Fritchey said. Originally, the plan called for 40 parking spaces. The new design provides 200 parking spaces contained within the first three floors. Half of those would be reserved for residents.
Neighbors who voiced support at last night’s meeting said they welcomed the type of housing planned: large condominiums. The proposed units are nearly 1,800 square feet in size. Prices begin around $600,000.
“There aren’t a lot of three and four-bedroom units around here, and in River North, they’re practically nonexistent,” said Alderman Solis.
The next steps for the development, after another community meeting, will be a zoning variance request, from the current DS-3 to DX-7. If approval is granted, the construction could take up to three years to complete.