44-Unit TOD Building Proposed at an Abandoned Drive-Through in Bucktown

A rendering of the proposed building at 1920 N Milwaukee Ave. Image: Vequity/YouTube
A rendering of the proposed building at 1920 N Milwaukee Ave. Image: Vequity

A proposal for a transit-oriented development in Bucktown is going before the Chicago Plan Commission for approval this Thursday. River North-based developer Vequity wants to build a six-story residential tower with minimal parking at the southeast corner of Milwaukee and Western avenues in Bucktown, right next door to the Western stop on the Blue Line’s O’Hare branch.

Vequity needs the Plan Commission to approve a zoning change from the current manufacturing and low-density business designation to slightly higher-density mixed-use zoning. A shuttered title loan store has occupied the property for a few years. Before that it was a Checkers drive-through burger joint.

The proposal calls for 44 apartments but only ten car parking spaces, plus 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, or about three shops. The revised TOD ordinance passed last year eliminated the minimum parking requirement for residential buildings within two blocks of rapid transit stations.

Street view of 1920 N Milwaukee Ave
An abandoned title loan store, formerly a drive-through fast food restaurant, occupies a site that may become a mixed-use TOD building. Image: Google Street View

Vequity’s sales video (below) points out the fact that a Bloomingdale Trail access point is a block away. It also highlights how busy the intersection is, noting that over 6,000 people use the Blue Line station daily, while over 43,000 motorists and 6,000 bicyclists pass by each day.

By restoring the urban street wall at the corner and adding over 50 new residents, the new building would help make the intersection more vibrant. At six stories, it would be one level higher than the tallest nearby building, located across the street. Adding housing and retail density, without adding a lot of new parking, will make the neighborhood less car-dependent. Hopefully, pressure from neighbors won’t result in a shorter building with more parking spots.

  • Chicagoan

    This would be great! Unfortunately, I suspect we’ll the NIMBY’s will want a story chopped off and at least a parking spot for every two people. Doesn’t mean the developers have to comply, though.

  • JacobEPeters

    It’s already at the plan commission, so it may have survived the NIMBY threat. It is in Waguespack’s ward, so I would expect there have been some community meetings.

  • Chicagoan

    Ah, good point. You’ve given me hope!

  • Neil Clingerman

    I’m not a real big fan of the whole “staggered windows” architectural trend a lot of infill here is starting to get – I have a feeling it will age very poorly.

    However, I’m very happy to see something besides an abandoned auto oriented business at such a prominent intersection. Looking forward to how this improves things for this part of town’s vibrancy.

  • Cameron Puetz

    All of the immediate neighbors are primarily commercial buildings. This project is at the intersection of two commercial streets, and the El tracks further separate it from other residential buildings. None of the streets it fronts have residential parking. Since there all no immediate neighbors trying to protect “their” parking, this project doesn’t have the built in opposition that many TOD projects have to overcome.

  • JacobEPeters

    I’m less worried about the staggered windows aging poorly as much as how the metal paneling will age. The staggered windows may date a building, but no more than the window placement on an italianate structure dates it.

  • I couldn’t find any evidence of a past or future meeting about this building. I don’t think anyone else reported on it either.

  • JacobEPeters

    I guess it is time to ask the alderman. Who lives in the 32nd ward & wants to ask Waguespack?

  • Neil Clingerman

    Yeah that’s probably what I’m thinking of, its just that the staggered windows is the most visible feature of this architectural style to the untrained eye.

  • Bernard Finucane

    The sidewalks at this intersection all need extensions at the corners. It’s really in sad shape.

  • Dan

    DNAinfo put out an article in September.

  • planetshwoop

    When I complained about the big box stores on Elston in the 32nd, I got a thoughtful reply in a few hours. I don’t think you have to be a resident to ask, if it’s important to you. (Can’t say the same about the good ol’ 39th, where political time stopped in 1972.)

  • Weird. I looked for other articles and I couldn’t find any about this building.

  • JC

    I would’ve thought that this was a commercial space and not residential because people wouldn’t want to live 6 inches away from a train line that runs 24 hrs a day… but what do I know

  • Plenty of people already live with bedroom windows backing up to elevated lines, it’s not really a big deal. My childhood bedroom was like that.

    Some people will find it to be a downer; those people won’t rent the units.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Depends on how loud the trains are.

    When my daughter was 12, she went from Germany to visit her cousins in San Francisco. They took a train ride and she had a panic attack. The train was so slow and so loud she thought it was a train wreck.

    Trains in good repair are actually pretty quiet.

  • disgruntled
  • disgruntled

    Just search “1920 N. Milwaukee” or “wicker park milwaukee”….. multiple stories come up about this project dating back to September of 2014. Its been in the works with the community organization and the neighborhood for 18 months.

  • Thanks. I’m at the Plan Commission meeting right now so we’ll see if gets approved and if anyone speaks out for or against it.

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