Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Community Meeting

Alderman Vi Daley
Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Association &
Mid-North Association
will host a community meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Lincoln Park High School Auditorium
The new owners of the hospital property will present their modified proposal for the re-use and redevelopment of the buildings and property. They are proposing using and up-grading the existing buildings for a mixed-use development to include residential, senior living and retail.

Minutes from 12/09/2009 Meeting

Alderman Daley opened the meeting with introductions.

Before the developer’s presentation, Alderman Daley raised the issue of past litigation and the resulting judgments, community agreements and consent decrees.

Andy Robertson gave a brief overview of three legal settlements and how they shaped the development of the hospital. The hospital had been allowed to expand and/or build new buildings while providing neighbors with relief such as the open space and service drive on the north side of Webster, no parking on the garage roof and other considerations. Mr. Robertson stated that these settlements may or may not be currently binding on the property but represent the spirit of the negotiations between the hospital and neighbors over its growth and development. If the new owners seek to utilize the “grandfathering” of the bulk and height of the hospital structures for new use, then they should also respect these considerations that the neighbors had earned.

The development team responded that there are currently no deed restrictions or covenants on the property reflecting these settlements. The only existing easements pertain to a turn-around area at the end of the Grant Place/Webster alley resulting from a property swap with the City.

Following the meeting Mr. Robertson provided copies of the legal settlements to the development team and the alderman’s office.

Alderman Daley then moved the meeting to the development team. Ted Novak, attorney for the development team introduced Larry Okrent of Okrent Associates who has been hired by the development team. From Mr. Okrent’s website:


Lawrence Okrent has been accepted as a planning and zoning expert in the circuit courts of metropolitan Chicago and by numerous plan commissions and zoning boards in the region. Formerly associated with the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (1970-1979), he founded Okrent Associates in 1979. He is responsible for the firm's administration, written documentation, public presentations, and architectural and aerial photography.
(B.A., Michigan, 1966; M.A., Northwestern, 1968)

Mr. Okrent gave a comprehensive presentation on the zoning and land use history of the site, and his analysis of the developer’s proposal. He sought to show compatibility with land use patterns currently and historically in the neighborhood.

Okrent’s Key Points:
  • History of the growth and development on the hospital property since 1906 when it was the German-American Hospital;
  • The current proposal represents the first time that the bulk on the property has decreased; and
  • Historically there was a significant amount of commercial space on this site and on adjacent blocks of Larrabee and Lincoln Avenue.

Okrent also claims that the proposed mix of retail/office/residential uses is a decrease in intensity of use compared to a functioning hospital. There is also an increase in the amount of open space on the property.

According to the Institute of Traffic Engineers, traffic associated with hospitals is less intense than the proposed mix. A hospital of this size is expected to generate 4020 car trips/day compared to 2716 car trips/day they would expect with a mixed-use development of size proposed.

There are many neighborhood examples of commercial uses at intersections along Lincoln Avenue adjacent to residential uses.

The proposed mix of uses: 10-12% retail, 16% office, 20% senior living, 52% basic residential (for sale condos). Approximately 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Senior housing points:

  • Low levels of auto ownership
  • Parking is typically underused in senior housing developments
  • Social life for seniors generally occurs within the building
  • Average age is 75, nearly all retired
  • Car trips are rarely during peak times
  • Residential units are smaller than standard units
  • Residents are mostly single

Overview of the urban design perspective of the Mid-North Landmark District and how the proposed development would be more compatible than the existing aesthetic of the hospital buildings.

Points raised by neighbors during Mr. Okrent’s presentation:

Debate over reality of increased open space assertion — Neighborhood would lose open space on lot and service drive next door to 516 W Webster to be developed as single family homes. Most of the open space is in the center of the property mostly for the benefit of the residents of the proposed development. Green space vs. open space, and accuracy of using these terms if the subject space is not accessible to the public.

Developers respond that proposal represents a decrease in building bulk and resulting open space. Open space/green space is such regardless of who can physically access it. The immediate adjacent neighbor on Grant Place will have better view and more light from demolition of building and resulting interior open space. New building on Grant Place will have a 14’ front yard setback where there is no setback now. This results in over 4000 sq. ft. of new yard visible to anyone on Grant Place.

All of the open space is at grade. The interior-located open space is on top of underground parking. Previous versions of the proposal indicated that this would a green roof 8’ above grade over parking.

Garage may be ugly but it’s terracing minimizes shadowing impact on pedestrian.

The examples of neighborhood retail on corners next to residential is not comparable to the size of the retail in the proposal.

The examples of neighborhood retail adjacent to residential are smaller stores adjacent to multi-unit residential buildings not single family homes.

Richard Zisook, the developer, presented the proposal as modified since the last meeting:

The site plan includes 5 buildings: A, B, C, D, & E

Building A — New construction on Grant Place, 14’ front yard setback where there is no setback now, 40 residential units, no taller than current building (5 stories).

Building B — Existing building on NE corner of Geneva/Webster — New skin/façade with more traditional brick/stone/windows. Building façade will have same treatment on all four sides. 170 senior living residential units. Ground floor retail use —“neighborhood retail like dry cleaners, stationery store, florist, etc.”

Building C — Existing Hospital Tower on north side of Webster — New skin/façade with more traditional brick/stone/windows. Building façade will have same treatment on all four sides. 120 market rate residential condos for sale. Loading area and entrance to internalized basement parking will be at the east end of the building.

Building D — Two single family residences with height and setbacks compliant with RM5 zoning classification on site of existing service drive and open lot.

Building E — Existing parking garage — two story retail at the corner of Lincoln/Webster, all retail space west of current driveways. 1st floor retail, 13,500 square ft, pharmacy (possible Walgreens). 2nd floor retail, 18,500, boutique grocery store (possibly Fox & Obel). Loading bays for retail stores will be off Webster approximately where current driveway located. Driveways for parking garage will be immediately east of loading bay. Entrance to the 2nd story retail will be on Lincoln just south of corner where there is currently the round wall of the driving ramp. Entrance to 1st Floor retail right on corner of Lincoln/Webster. Retail section of building proposed to increase in height by 5’ from current 26’ to 31’. New façade and partial reconstruction of building with traditional brick/stone. Façade east of driveways will be recessed with “greenbelt” planter along sidewalk. Façade elevation east of driveway will appear as a residential townhome-like façade.

Parking layout — 98 spaces in basement, 53 parking spaces at grade on 1st floor, 2nd & 3rd floor each have 38 parking spaces, east end of roof top holds 38 parking spaces.

Roof top parking will have a 5’ parapet wall with a landscape edge on east and south outsides of parapet. Above the 5’ parapet will be a clear panel to let light through but keep people out.

Ted Novak reported on meeting with their traffic engineers and the Chicago Dept of Tranportation (CDOT):

CDOT gave some preliminary recommendations but will study further as plans refine. CDOT recommended:

  • Loading — Should use Cleveland/Lincoln alley for loading. Developer explained that would incite objections from neighbors. Consequently CDOT recommended loading off Webster instead of the previously proposed Lincoln Ave loading.
  • Truck deliveries should be scheduled outside of peak traffic hours on Webster i.e. mid-day.
  • Hospital is more intense traffic use than proposed retail/residential mix.
  • May have future recommendations on traffic improvements.

Questions/Issues raised during presentation:

Alderman Daley raised the issue that developing service drive will block egress from the Grant/Webster alley, making it a dead end. Neighbor concurred that residents and city sanitation trucks use service drive to access alley.

Developer team response (DTR): Service was once public alley. Now it is private property. Anyone using it is trespassing. There is turn-around area at west end of Grant/Webster alley that is public property. Developer’s original proposal was to use service drive/alley to access internalized parking. Neighbors objected at first community meeting, so they redesigned the project to move the entrance and loading into the east end of the Webster elevation so as not to use any part of existing alley. This creates no need for them to use existing service drive for traffic.

Robert Buday raised issue of parking access on north side building being at east end of property. Past negotiations/settlement resulted in entrance to south side garage being as far west as possible. That should be guide for how to locate driveways on north side of street as well. Perhaps they should look at moving some of the traffic and access to Geneva Terrace.

DTR: Didn’t believe there would be community or city support for new driveway on Geneva. Geneva is smaller street and more complicated traffic-wise with limited area between Grant Place and Webster intersection.

Melissa Macek asked if there would be balconies on the tower and would the tower get wider.

DTR: Yes, the balconies recessed into building, not hanging off of it. The tower building is not growing over the four-story portion. The tower currently has an undulating façade with large bay-like sections. The proposed building will not have this effect. The area will be filled in between the bays to create a flat façade. In the rear, sections of the bays may be removed to create a consistent flat façade.

Fred Shapiro questioned if the all elevations of the towers look the same.

DTR: Yes all elevations will be consistent. There will be no “backside” of tower. Windows will be added on current “backside” of tower.

Fred Shapiro felt that additional windows in the tower would affect his privacy.

Robert Buday said that historically, rooftop parking on the garage has been a major objection from the community and the source of litigation.

DTR: Vehicles and lighting will be shielded from view with a green landscaped area and parapet wall. Developer could also execute a deed restriction or used the planned development ordinance to insure no parking on the roof after a certain hour of the evening.

Melissa Macek asked if there had been any reduction in retail since the previous meeting as requested or was it just a relocation.

DTR: In Building E, the amount of retail is the same, just reoriented to the corner of Lincoln. The amount of commercial space has been reduced in Buildings B & C. In Building B, the north edge of retail will end in line with the 7-11 building across the street. On Webster, the eastern edge of retail will end west of the existing canopied hospital entrance. The developer could execute a deed restriction or use the planned development ordinance to restrict the total amount or retail, the size of any particular retail space, commercial uses, hours, etc.

Fred Shapiro asked what/where is the office space, and will that have an impact on traffic.

DTR: Office is one of the potential uses in the overall mix. Most likely it would be located in the “Bussle” area above the ground floor around the base of the tower. But that could be residential instead of office. That area seems the least marketable for residential. There is no proposed office tenant or plan at this time. Could be medical offices or some other kind of office.

Marty Oberman, attorney for Fred Shapiro, recounted the days when he was alderman and how many hospitals were located in the ward. Now they’re all soon to be gone. All of the hospitals were building parking garages over community objections. Now they’re gone. While Mr. Okrent may be correct in the historic commercial uses in the area, the trend has been to go residential. He questioned if they have considered replacing the parking garage with residential.

DTR: The current economics do not support residential development. The parking in the garage is needed for the property and for the community. They have put together this package of senior living and retail that can finance the development of the property. The residential component can occur later. They didn’t think the community would want a mid-rise residential building on the site of the parking garage.

Josh Glazier said that he did not object to the old hospital. It provided a round-the-clock presence on the street that increased safety. There were police officers often at the hospital which increased safety.

Richard Price relayed his perspective and that of other Walpole Point residents — the reuse of the hospital building for residential was okay. Even the density was maybe okay. The move of the loading dock off Lincoln was a positive modification. Walpole Point residents have always been concerned about increasing height on the parking garage and parking on the roof. Their main concern was the size of retail. Many of his neighbors don’t want the retail at all. He didn’t know if Mr. Okrent’s information about all the commercial uses that had historically been on and near the site weakened his side’s argument. They’re very concerned about commercial and its impact on the neighbors and traffic.

DTR: The property is zoned as a planned development for a hospital. That is a commercial use and has been back to 1906. They’re trying to improve the property with residential, senior residential and neighborhood retail. When the PD was adopted in the early 70’s there was no underlying zoning. Their residential density is equivalent to RM5 zoning.

Josh Glazier recommended that the developers package their proposal in a communicable format so people could discuss and consider it with their neighbors and families.

Nada Riley recommended that there should be more sharing of information. She didn’t like that individual neighbors were meeting with the development team to lobby for their interests. She recommended that we incorporate Alderman Daley’s approach to the Children’s redevelopment discussion with a website, etc.

Todd Main spoke about being a longtime resident on Webster and architect who supports the project. The active hospital was very intrusive and disruptive in the residential neighborhood with ambulances and traffic. He likes urban living with a diverse mix of uses near residential so you don’t have to drive to the grocery store or other stores. He believed this was a good practice of using and improving existing structures.

Alderman Daley closed the meeting, saying that she would produce and distribute meeting minutes, put information regarding the proposal on a website, and would organize another full community meeting in January.