Former Max Gerber site: United Logan Square voices question Moreno's process for Buono development

Going door to door in the Logan Square area near the former Max Gerber location, at Milwaukee and California Avenues, representatives of the Logan Square Neighborhood AssociationLogan Square Preservation and SOMOS Logan Square are collecting signatures on petitions.

Directed at 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, they are asking him to "defer the April 16 Chicago Plan Commission hearing [of Rob Buono's proposed project] until the community has had the opportunity to give real input on the proposal." In addition to delivering petitions, people are planning to attend his Ward Night this Tuesday about the 2293 N. Milwaukee Ave. site. 

"Any community process needs to be transparent, open and accessible," says Daniel La Spata, a Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) Board of Directors member and Co-Chair of the Housing and Land Use Committee.  Moreno's Mar. 30 meeting did not meet those criteria, he pointed out.  

In a joint letter from John McDermott, LSNA, Housing and Land Use Director, and Andrew Schneider, Logan Square Preservation, to Moreno, on Mar. 31, they related what they

saw at the meeting and requested that there be one more public meeting. The reasons they gave were:

"When we learned the next day from an article in theChicago Sun-Times that the project was going to the Planning Commission on Apr. 16, we felt that the project was going forward no matter what our opinion was," said La Spata. 

Proposed Project 
The proposed transit oriented development (TOD) project is a two tower 
residential and retail complex at 2293 N.

Milwaukee Ave. The north tower on Belden is to be 12 stories with the height of 135' 8" and housing 135 units. The south tower along Washtenaw is to be 11 stories totaling 124' 11" in height with 78 units. There are to be 68 parking spaces. Retail is to occupy 5,767 sq. ft. in the Belden tower and 3,221 sq. ft. in the Washtenaw tower.

In addition they propose green roofs and a private green space, separated from Milwaukee Ave by a wall. 

Of the 235 units, they are saying that they will have 21 Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) units and 8 Workforce units.  

In November 2008 the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development adopted the North Milwaukee Avenue Corridor Plan for the 0.75 miles between N. Western Ave. and N. California Ave. A comparison primarily focuses on Vision and Development, Development Framework, and Development Concepts identified in the Corridor Plan. Buono and partner Paul Utigard along with Jamie McNally, who originally presented the project to the public in November 2014, point to the 2008 document as a "blueprint" for their proposal. 

In this current proposal they have reduced both height and density. However, residents say that the project is still too tall and too dense, among other things. 

Project concerns and opposition
Logan Square Preservation opposes this project as it is currently proposed and believes it is not yet ready to move forward, noting, at a bare minimum, the developer’s plan to build a very long brick wall at street level along Milwaukee Avenue, flies in the face of the ideas underlying pedestrian streetscape in a dynamic environment close to the Blue Line California Station. 

"The proposed 12-story and 11-story towers would set a dangerous precedent for out-of-scale development that would lead to more tear-downs, displacement and higher storefront rents in Logan Square," said La Spata. 

"The proposal does not provide sufficient community benefits, such as setting aside units that are truly affordable to local families, and in essence creates a 'gated community' with the walled in green space. " 

Jennie Fronczak says, "The 21 ARO units in the proposal aren't really affordable for many local families. The 'affordable' units being created through the ARO are not actually affordable for thousands of working class households in our community. 

"Under the ARO, developers building rental units need to make them affordable to families at or below 60% of an Area Median Income (AMI) that is based on the six-county metropolitan area. That's $43,440 for a family of four. 

"However, per the U.S Census data, the median income for Latino families in Logan Square is $34,346. While $9,094 is a formidable gap for local families trying to avoid displacement, given the ridiculous profit the developers stand to make, I would like to know what they will do to bridge the gap so that the ARO units will truly be accessible to local households." 

Along Talman on Sunday afternoon, several residents expressed their concerns regarding density because there will only be 68 parking spaces. 

Resident Bart Longacre said he has mixed feelings about the development. "If they can get people to pay that much for an apartment without parking that would be great. But, when their friends show up for parties and are looking for a place to park, I'm going to be upset because they will be parking here," he said indicating the street in front of his home. 

"I know that Logan Square's density is not high, but they are talking about putting a lot of density into an area that has never had density. Parking is my major concern because I live pretty far from the Congress Theatre, but not far enough. Any time something is going on there, I may have to park way north across Fullerton." 

Two of those knocking on doors were Bhaskar Manda and his neighbor Rafael. Manda is on the LSNA Board and Unity Park, 2636 N Kimball Ave., and Rafael was very involved in the multi-year project that resulted in obtaining land and adding to the size of Unity Park. 

Rafael, who has lived on the same block for 28 years says, "Change comes but the high rises of today do not want anyone with low income living there. Where are the people who live there now going to go? I'm for affordable housing, but these are not affordable." 

Manda says, "Once the home owners around here know what people are willing to pay, they will start raising their rents. Assessments will go up. I think we are all for development. We are just for balanced development." 

"I'm for development too," said Rafael. "But I'm more for them building homes, including affordable homes. They tore down Cabrini Green, what are they going to do, put another one over here? Sometime they expect a certain income from these buildings and then they don't get them. Then they wind up with a bunch of empty units, then you get tenants that go in and tear them up.

Michael Suess signs a petition

"As I was talking with people, I was surprised to hear so many talking about the wall on Milwaukee Ave. That is a very walkable street in many sections, having a wall sounds out of character for Milwaukee," said Manda. 

Christian Villarreal's concerns are "parking, traffic, chaos and taxes."  Michael Suess has similar concerns. 

As they urge Moreno to defer (postpone) the Apr. 16 hearing, the three organizations request 1st Ward residents to email the alderman or call his office at 773.278.0101. For those interested in receiving an update before the hearing, send an email to LSNAwith your name, address and phone number. For more information, contact John McDermott at 773.384.4370 or via email

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For those people who didn't think it important to attend the 3/30/2015 meeting re this project, but who now do, here's the recording: