Thursday, May 22, 2008

7315 N. Sheridan Meeting

The community meeting about the 7315 N. Sheridan parcel, while reasonably civil, nevertheless displayed the local community's deep concerns about the proposal, and its lack of trust in the developer. The meeting began at 7:20 PM and ended at 10:35 PM. 42 people spoke up, but twice that number appeared to be in attendance. Of the speakers, 24 were from the Sherwin/Chase/Sheridan block, the rest were from all over, including a couple of folks with business interests in RP, but not residents. At the end of the meeting Joe advised that the ZALUAC will be meeting 6/11 and his decision will come after the meeting.

The proposal - upzone from R-T-4 to B-3-5 and restore the site to its historical zoning classification. Build a 7 story, 44 unit rental building, including a 3080 sq ft retail space and incorporate 50-52 parking spaces in a multi-level garage. Become the first mixed use building to achieve LEED certification in RP. Andy McGhee's Morse Theater is a commercial venture seeking LEED certification.

Key Aronson Messages -
Building as designed has parking for tenants, is less dense (smaller, fewer units) than nearby contextual buildings, and is pursuing green technology.

Building would provide 1:1 parking for residents

Green Technology, to the extent economically feasible, would be incorporated (geothermal, recycling of water, insulation, and wind turbine are all under consideration)

Building would provide opportunity for new, high quality restaurant, with outdoor seasonal seating that could still be used for the annual pumpkin patch and Christmas Tree lot.

The building's height is consistent with, and actually less than, the height of other contextually located (nearby) buildings.

The building must include a retail component under the zoning being requested, he would not be able to build an all residential building.

There will be 4 affordable housing units; floors 3-7 will have 8 units per floor. Units will be 1-3 BRs ranging from 660-1255 square feet.

He is amenable to making changes based on the feedback, wants to work with the community.

Expect 3-3.5 years from now, if approved, before building is ready.

Key Community Messages -
Parking remains an issue as the current lot provides 20-22 spaces that will be removed from the inventory, and restaurant patrons will be competing for local parking spots, all of which is to the disadvantage of the community at large. Many families are 2-car families, so unlikely all tenants will be accommodated in garage, adding to competition for space.

Sheridan Road is a congested main thoroughfare, which will be exacerbated by the retail/restaurant and 44 new families at this location, especially with cars entering/exiting the garage.

A variance would create a precedent sure to be exploited by the owner of the site of the former North Shore School and would likely drive future development of the Shambhala parcel. Result: possible "canyonization" of this section of Sheridan, more congestion, and a change in character from residential to business district. The area was downzoned for a reason, leave it alone.

Retail development should be focused elsewhere; Morse, Howard, and down by Loyola.

Notable Comments -
Chase at the Lake sent a board representative who stated at least twice that they are opposed to the development and will actively oppose a decision to go forward. Aronson made it clear he would not be litigating the issues; he sees that as counterproductive to his long-term interests.

In response to claims that Shambhala is renting out parking (they didn't seem to know for sure) and concerns about what Aronson and Shambhala intend, Alice Dann (co-director) commented that Shambhala is outgrowing its space and is having internal discussions as to what to do. They are not satisfied with the "wall" on the N side of the proposed building, among other concerns. They would like to work out alternatives.

There is an easement to a private beach between Sherwin and Chase buildings that is fenced and has a padlocked gate. Aronson believes he has a right to access the easement and beach once the building is completed. A lot of discussion ensued as to why the padlock was in place and just who had rights to the easement. Very emotional for the property owners, who maintain the location and are not interested in letting just anyone in.

There was some back-and-forth over Sheridan Road's historic utilization and whether this proposal was consistent with that. Aronson believes it is, and pointed to the presence of retail across the street, the nursing homes, and that some current condominiums and rentals started life as hotels. The comeback was that the nursing homes provided residences to individuals who are not contributing to the congestion. The character of the neighborhood is not that of a business district, but this would move us down that path.

Applause Lines -
Parking concerns
Potential creation of a northern version of the Sheridan "tunnel" south - not here
If deal fails, parcel won't be worth as much, which could make a parking structure viable
Let's wait for responsible development consistent with existing zoning, no variance


Hugh said...

thanks for posting your notes

"The building must include a retail component under the zoning being requested, he would not be able to build an all residential building."

in the B3 zoning Aronson is purchasing, residential is permitted on the ground floor as a special use

sadly, we do not have a zoning that REQUIRES retail or PROHIBITS residential on the ground floor

we used to have a zoning to capture our desire for convenient retail but our real estate developers and the elected officials they sponsor took it away in the zoning rewrite in 2004

Hugh said...

"The proposal - upzone from R-T-4 to B-3-5

and restore the site to its historical zoning classification.

Build a 7 story, 44 unit rental building, including a 3080 sq ft retail space and incorporate 50-52 parking spaces ..."

the 1st part is an accurate & concise stmt of the propsed zoning change

the 3rd part is merely what one particular developer who may or may not purchase the property happens to be saying while asking for the zoning change

it is important to recognize that this is not a planned development - that is, the zoning change is not contingent on any particular plan

we need to be very aware of what the new zoning would make possible by rights

Hugh said...

" ... restore the site to its historical zoning classification."

this is particularly outrageous rhetoric even for Aronson

with this turn of phrase Aronson attempts to assert his god-given right to the most lucrative, most generous, most dense zoning that any piece of property in our neighborhood has ever had at any time in its history

the lot is currently zoned RT4, you can look it up on our zoning map on the City's website

RT4 has a certain meaning defined under law, you can look it up on our City's website, too - and that meaning is NOT "placeholder zoning used by aldermen to force community meanings"

It's RT4 - get used to it!

even moore outrageous is Moore, the local legislator, nominally the representative of his constituents, standing there like a statue while a campaign contributor completely mis-characterizes the law

Hugh said...

Moore let Aronson talk for him

Moore let Aronson explain what Moore was thinking when Moore zoned this property RT4 - Moore didn't really mean RT4, according to Aronson

Moore let Aronson explain that in this case RT4 does not mean RT4, it means what Aronson says Moore thinks it means

kind of makes you wonder how much of our zoning map does not mean what the map says it means

Hugh said...

"Aronson believes he has a right to access the easement and beach once the building is completed."

did he say that?

I might even agree, but it is a very, very STOOPID thing to say in meeting nominally to foster community support

It's needlessly confrontational - why go there?

the condo owners went to court to stake their claim and they will go to court to defend it

I can't believe Aronson's partners know he is creating issues like this

it is a measure of how much Aronson believes his zoning change is in the bag that he can afford to be confrontational

Kheris said...

Thanks Hugh for clarifying the statements I shared. Regarding the easement: you had to be there. The court case came up, the emotions were high and I was dumbfounded at the thought that he might not be aware of it. I have been in numerous presentations on sensitive, emotion-ladened issues and I haven't seen anyone take on the audience the way he did. Dale Carnegie would not have been proud.

Hugh said...

BEFORE the recent aldermanic elections, Moore bragged on his down-zonings, going so far as to post a long list on his campaign website

Community-Wide Process Comes to a Successful Close

AFTER the election we learn that low-density zoning is just a placeholder Moore uses to extort cash from developers