Thursday, April 27, 2006

last night's public meeting on 1640-42 Fargo

Last night's public meeting concerning the proposed zoning change/condo project at 1640-42 Fargo was well attended. I'd estimate that there were 60+ people from the community.

The proposed new building for the Rogers side of the property is to be 3 units with a 3-car garage in the ground floor. The design is a reasonably attractive masonry building - red face brick with limestone window headers and sills and limestone accents on the corners. The driveway to access parking between this building and the existing Fargo building (6 spaces for the existing building) would run between the new building and the repo shop (Equitable Services). The driveway for the new 3-car garage would be next to the new driveway.

The current configuration has the entire width of the Rogers side paved in concrete. The new configuration would have a strip of green space and trees along the curb, and green space between the west side of the new building and the existing apartment building on the corner. This makes up for part of the green space lost by replacing the existing grassy yard with parking, and puts all the green space in public view along the street. Narrowing the driveway area would create one or two additional on-street parking spaces on Rogers.

All units would be 2 bedrooms, with slightly more square footage (approx. 1100) in new building, with expected sale prices around $250K. The footprint of the existing building would remain the same, and unit size would be approx. 900-1000 sq. ft., with expected sale prices around $225K. The developer, George Samutin, said that he was trying to offer units that are more affordable than many 2 bedroom units in recent condo offerings. He has done a few recent projects on Pratt between Clark and the lake.

NOTE: At 9 units, this project is smaller than the minimum development size requiring CPAN set-aside (10 units). Samutin will create an additional affordable unit in one of his buildings on Pratt.

Many people attending the meeting objected to the proposal because the neighborhood has lost so many rental units in recent years, and most of the new condos are not affordable (even under the CPAN program) to a large number of current renters.

When I moved to this block in 1997, most of the buildings were rental, some nicer than others. Last year the large courtyard building down the block (1617-1627, over 40 units) was vacated. The tenants were mostly Section 8, and many were families with small children. It has been converted to condos, and the first new owners are moving in. The building at 1626-30 (12 units) is emptying out in preparation for a condo conversion. 1610-20, 1633-41, and 1634-36 are still rental, as well as the buildings at the Paulina end of the block. Who knows what their status will be 5 years from now?

I can see both sides here. I hate to see people who can't afford to buy get booted from one place to the next as their apartment buildings go condo. On the other hand, the building at 1640-42 Fargo has not been fully occupied in a few years, and has not had the best tenants because the units are in poor condition. It's been vacant since 7/1/05. I'd rather see it occupied than standing vacant. In the spectrum of possible options for this property, this proposal is one of the better possibilities. It would add a reasonably attractive building in place of a dilapidated garage, and create additional parking where parking is scarce. While it might not be everyone's ideal solution, it's better than many of the new buildings I'm seeing in Chicago.


Julie said...

I agree with you. It's sad for the people who rent, especially those with children. It's hard for kids to keep moving all the time. These days they may have to change schools too the way the condo market is going.

However, you are also right that what presently occupies this space looks like crap. Nice of the guy to make another one of his condos affordable in another building. Why can't we have more developers like him?

Fargo said...

For almost a year, I've been concerned about what would happen to this vacant building and how it would affect the block. This proposal is encouraging.

I feel bad about the people with kids who were forced out of the courtyard building down the block. That piece of the picture is not a positive one.

Hugh said...

> At 9 units, this project is smaller than the minimum development size requiring CPAN set-aside (10 units).

The Chicago Partnership for Affordable neighborhoods (CPAN) program does not specify a minimum development size (which you state as 10), or a percentage to set-aside (often stated as 10%). CPAN is "voluntary." The program has no teeth, it has no requirements. It is entirely up to the Alderman and/or the City to ask for set-asides. This is commonly done in conjunction with a request for a zoning change, but even the zoning change as a trigger is not specified in the enabling ordinances for CPAN. Here on Fargo-Rogers a developer is requesting a significant zoning change but is not being asked to provide for affordability.

Who said this development was below the minimum size? Did the Moore say that?

Is the project 9 units or 10 units? The flyer described a conversion of a 6-flat plus 4 units of new construction.

Fargo said...

They presented it as 9 units in all: 6 in the existing Fargo building, and 3 in the new Rogers building (above street level garage).

Hugh said...

Thanks for the reply.

Did they drop a unit between printing the flyer and holding the meeting? The developer would rather build one less unit than build one unit that might actually be affordable to an area resident?

It is important to recognize that if there are no affordable set-asides in a project, it is because the Alderman is not asking for it, not because of some arbitrary legal cut-off.

It is also important to recognize that once the developer gets their zoning change, they can build many more than 3 units on the Rogers side, and there will be nothing we can do about it, they will be "within rights." We were not asked to approve a particular project, we were asked to support a 150% density increase.

WEB said...

"On the other hand, the building at 1640-42 Fargo has not been fully occupied in a few years, and has not had the best tenants because the units are in poor condition. It's been vacant since 7/1/05."

What do you mean "has not had the best tenants? I lived there for 20-years, I moved when they sold to samutin as all tenants were asked to vacate. The tenants were always good working people so please explain what you mean by your comment.
Also, After Samutin bought the building he put it on the market and it seems he could not get his $950,000 asking price. (he paid $800,000 for the property). So now he has hatched this scheme to build on the back lot. Fine with me but don't be fooled into thinking this guy cares about Rogers park. He is only in it for the money in my opinion.

I watched this building get sold five times during my time there.
at one time you could have bought the entire building for the price of one of the new condos. in 1997 it sold for $400,000 the price of two condos.

P.S. I recently sighed on to CPAN, so if Samutin does up a unit or two in to CPAN, maybe I will win the CPAN lottery and move back to 1640 W. Fargo

Anonymous said...

I agree with Web, don't believe anything Sumutin says...he's very shady.