Andersonville Clock Tower Apartment Building Proposal Leads To Clash Over Affordable Housing

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ANDERSONVILLE — An apartment building that would bring 36 units and a clock tower to a prominent corner of Andersonville could be a “placemaker” for the neighborhood, according to its developer.

The project, however, lacks essentials like adequate affordable housing and parking, neighbors said.

Candea Development wants to build a four-story apartment building at 5457 N. Clark St., the site of a shuttered convenience store. The building would include 36 studio and one-bedrooms apartments with 13 parking spaces and ground floor retail space.

Four of the units would be earmarked as “affordable,” the minimum that is required under the city’s transit oriented development ordinance.

That’s not good enough, over a dozen neighbors said at a community meeting Tuesday.

“This is one of our only chances to address affordable housing in our area,” Olivia Stovicek said.

Candea, a prominent North Side developer of mostly condos, wants to change the zoning on the site to build a residential and retail building at the corner of Clark Street and Catalpa Avenue.

The former convenience store at Clark Street and Catalpa Avenue could be turned into a four-story apartment building. [Google Maps]

Its brick facade seeks to blend in with the rest of Andersonville’s historic commercial district on Clark Street. The clock tower was added as a request from Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), developer Armand Candea said.

“We see this as kind of an anchor to Andersonville,” said Candea, who grew up near Andersonville. “A placemaker if you will.”

Neighbors are not sold on the developer’s vision, however.

At a community meeting Tuesday to discuss the rezoning request, neighbors expressed concern about the scope of the project, its potential impact on side street parking and its lack of affordable housing.

Andersonville is in desperate need of affordable housing units, particularly those sized to house families, some neighbors said.

With unemployment and housing security a problem during the pandemic, a luxury apartment building could put upward pressure on Andersonville’s housing prices at the wrong time, said Brian Bennett.

“This is a morally bankrupt development,” he said.

Bennett and others from the leftist political group 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice showed out to the virtual meeting and campaigned for an all-affordable housing development at Clark and Catalpa. The group has already put fliers on the development site in opposition to the proposal.

Candea said he is not in the business of 100 percent affordable housing. Asked if he planned to give back to the neighborhood, Candea said “I don’t feel” he has to, and he also apologized for saying his company would dissuade people with cars from renting at this building.

“It sounds like what you guys are looking for is a publicly funded project,” Candea said. “Now you want all this free, affordable housing stuff. There’s just no money there.”

Osterman said the development’s scale would not ruin the character of Clark Street, since there aren’t many other development opportunities there and some of the buildings are protected by historical designations.

Some of the criticism about the building’s lack of affordable units was lobbed at Osterman, the chair of the City Council’s committee on housing. Osterman said the developer is open to adding more affordable units in the building, and said one project will not solve the community’s issues around housing.

“It’s important to keep this development in perspective,” he said. “There will be continued development in our community, and that development will have affordable housing on site.”

Osterman said he is taking neighbor comments about the development before he weighs in on Candea’s zoning request.

Neighbors who wish to comment on the proposed development can email the alderman at 5457clark@48thward.org between now and Oct. 14.

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October 7, 2020 at 09:41AM

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