Update, 5/10: A reader tipped LoganSquarist to plans for a development at 2501 Armitage Ave. It has been added below.
Various Logan Square development projects have gotten a lot of press in the past few months—so much so that even we at LoganSquarist have gotten a little lost. If you’re wondering just how many new developments there are, where they are, how far along they are and what you can do to make your voice heard, we’ve dug up the answers.
Calling outspoken residents “opponents” or “supporters” of new developments is simplistic, as most residents’ viewpoints are more nuanced. In this story, we use “opponents” as a broad term that encompasses residents who flat-out oppose development as well as residents who have a few particular objections to or specific expectations for new construction.
In general, opponents of new residential development say they set a precedent for large, out-of-scale development in the future; drive up rents; and lead to displacement of residents. Proponents say that new development increases housing options; keeps rent low; provides smart, efficient housing; and brings in new residents and businesses.
One key term in these debates is transit-oriented development. TOD projects are built within a 10-minute walk of an L station and are high-density mixed-use buildings. TODs do not have to provide as many parking spaces as other types of development, since they are walking distance from mass transit. First Ward Ald. Joe Moreno sponsored one of the city’s TOD ordinances.
The Twin Towers
Location: 2293 N. Milwaukee Ave., directly across from Family Dollar
Developer: Rob Buono, former co-CEO of Intelligentsia
Architect: Wheeler Kearns
Two towers between Talman and Washtenaw avenues along Milwaukee Avenue; one 12-story and one 11-story tower; 213 units and 68 parking spaces
The Twin Towers project has been the source of much heated debate in Logan Square. Resident protests led developer Rob Buono to reduce the height of the north tower from 15 to 12 stories, as DNAinfo reported. Opponents to the plan say it is “out of scale” with the neighborhood.
However, residents opposed to the plan were dealt a blow when 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno moved the plan through the Chicago City Council’s Zoning Committee, where it passed without opposition. It passed City Council without opposition on May 6.
The towers were approved by the full City Council, but there is no available schedule for construction to begin.
Big Glowing L
Location: 2211 N. Milwaukee Ave., across from Madison Public House
Developer: Property Markets Group
A LEED-certified six-story building with 120 units, 67 parking spots and 198 bicycle parking spots
Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association, which petitioned to lower the building from seven to six stories; We Are/Somos Logan Square, which has organized events to discuss gentrification in the neighborhood
The 22-foot glowing capital L that appeared in January in the empty lot at Milwaukee and Talman avenues announced a new development project from national residential development company Property Markets Group.
Currently called “What The L” or just L, the new building is expected to contain 120 rental units and a large open space area. The apartments are described as luxury units, and Property Markets Group Senior Managing Director Noah Gottlieb has said that rents will fall between $1,500 and $3,200 or more per month.
Gottlieb has framed his interactions with concerned residents as “collaboration,” not conflict, but some residents have continued to battle against the What The L development. Some residents argue that the building’s 12 affordable housing apartments (which will cost $800-$1,100 monthly to rent) are not enough.
Location: 2328 N. California Ave., across from the post office at Medill Avenue
Developer: Enrico Plati of Savoy Development
Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association opposed the SRO plan as too dense, but worked with the developer in a closed-door meeting to make changes to the plan
The previous two projects have gotten lots of attention from Logan Square residents. Much less digital column space has been filled with news about this California development, which underwent a complete makeover in August.
Prior to that, the plan was for a six-story, 66-unit building full of studio apartments. The current plan mixes 16 studios with 25 one-bedroom apartments and 11 two-bedroom apartments, Curbed Chicago reported in March. Those numbers have fluctuated as the project has changed. A previous incarnation had about 60 units and six affordable housing units; there is no estimate on the affordable housing units in the current plan.
Moreno joined developer Enrico Plati in presenting one of the revised plans in August, and the alderman used the opportunity to reiterate his support for TODs. Plati has experience with new developments, as he previously constructed similar residential projects in the West Loop.
The Chicago Plan Commission approved the project in March. It will now move to the Zoning Committee of the City Council.
Logan’s Crossing, The MegaMall Redevelopment
An eight-floor mixed-use building with a fitness center, up to 110,000 square feet of retail, 387 parking spots and more than 200 apartments
Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which is calling on developers to treat the Chicago requirement that 10 percent of rental units be affordable housing units “as a floor, not a ceiling”; We Are/Somos Logan Square, which at a May 7 meeting said it would only support the project if 50 percent of the housing was affordable housing
One of Logan Square’s most visible buildings, the long and rambling MegaMall has been more or less vacant for a long time, housing only a few independent shops and a flea market. But change is coming soon. It’s now situated in the 32nd Ward after the redrawn ward map went into effect, and 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack has wasted no time in releasing a plan to redevelop the MegaMall.
Waguespack sent out an email that included a 13-page PDF of the developer’s plans for the site. They include a large covered parking area, a grocery store, a fitness club and well over 100 residential units. The entire current MegaMall would be demolished and replaced with a series of connected buildings. The working name for the new building appears to be “Logan’s Crossing.”
The first public meeting to discuss the plan took place May 7 inside the MegaMall, where Waguespack and representatives of developer Terraco Inc. spoke to more than 200 residents. While Terraco founder and President Scott Gendell faced a few confrontational questions, the meeting was largely agreeable. The audience applauded a speech by Daniel LaSpata of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, who encouraged the developers to increase the affordable housing they planned to offer and make sure it wasn’t “unaffordable affordable housing.” LaSpata said the median income for Latino families in Logan Square is $34,000, compared to the overall median income of $45,600. He argued that even affordable housing can be unaffordable for some Latino families.
Waguespack told the audience at the May 7 public meeting that the conversation about the MegaMall’s future would continue and the presentation by Terraco was “not by any means the final product.” He told residents he would update them in his weekly newsletter.
Location: 2525 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Developer: Mark Fishman
Residents were evicted from the historic Milshire Hotel a year ago, and the building was sold to developer Mark Fishman in December, but no changes have occurred to the structure
Previously, the Milshire Tenants Union, a union of SRO residents, fought against evictions and sued a previous landlord for rat and bedbug infestations
The contentious closure of the Milshire Hotel drew public attention to the issue of gentrification. The hotel was previously one of Logan Square’s SROs and a convenient and affordable place for the previously homeless to live.
As the surrounding properties began to appreciate in value—restaurants like the Rocking Horse and Wasabi sprang up nearby—former owner and landlord Art Fischoff decided to sell the building to Fishman, first evicting all tenants.
Since then, the hotel has stood empty. Some residents feared Fishman, who owns about 25 other properties in Logan Square, would accelerate gentrification by building expensive or exclusive apartments. However, no development has occurred and no plan has become public for the future of the Milshire.
There are no apparent next steps for the Milshire Hotel.
Location: 2501 Armitage Ave., the intersection of Armitage Avenue with Bingham Street to the north and Campbell Avenue to the south
Developer: Spearhead Properties
A 78-unit TOD was announced in May 2014 consisting of two buildings with 6,500 square feet of retail, and 55 parking spaces, Curbed Chicago reported at the time
There are no apparent opponents; West Bucktown Neighborhood Association supports the project
New development in Logan Square hasn’t seen such support in a long while. Yet the positive reception that greeted Spearhead Properties and Antunovich Associates—the same architecture firm that is working on the redevelopment of the MegaMall—has faded by now, and no work has begun on the Armitage Residences, two connected buildings that would replace a warehouse on the south side of Armitage Avenue.
The building will be a TOD, since it will be within short walking distance of the Western Blue Line stop. Curbed Chicago reports that the residential units will largely be one- and two-bedroom apartments. However, it lists an estimated monthly rate for a studio apartment, and it’s not cheap: $1,300 per month. There is no mention of affordable housing units in the Armitage Residences.
Curbed Chicago says the developer hoped to demolish the warehouse currently standing at Armitage and Campbell avenues and begin construction early this year. However, construction has not started. Spearhead Properties had not responded to an email request for comment by press time.