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 -
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