Around Rogers Park - 1710 West Lunt Avenue Zoning Change Request Denied

RPBG Director Dave Gassman, DLG Properties, requested a change in zoning for a 7-unit property at 1710 West Lunt Avenue to allow a 13-unit addition at the rear of the building, increasing the total unit count to 20. The zoning change would have triggered the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) which mandates the inclusion of 20% affordable units in Rogers Park. For the Lunt building, this would have required four affordable units out of the 20 proposed. The structure has been vacant since 2016 and was formerly operated as a half-way house by Lutheran Social Services. Mr. Gassman purchased the building in 2017 and has been trying to put together a plan to redevelop the property since that time.

Citing objections from the owners of the adjacent Hare Krishna Temple, the zoning change request was denied by Alderwoman Hadden. These objections included the “egregious” increase in building density and potential for violence between the vegetarian members of Hare Krishna and possible meat-eating tenants who might want to barbecue on the premises of Mr. Gassman’s property during the summer months.

As a compromise position, the Alderwoman asked Mr. Gassman to explore an expansion of the building upward instead of outward to allow more light into the sanctuary. According to Mr. Gassman, this option proved to be economically unfeasible due to higher construction costs, smaller average unit sizes with lower bedroom counts, and the burden of the ARO requirement.

In light of his inability to procure the requested zoning change, Mr. Gassman reports that he will now restore the building as an 8-unit property under current zoning. Because the redevelopment will be “as-of-right,” the building will be completely market-rate with no ARO units. Notably, current zoning regulations still allow the developer to extend the building footprint by approximately 20 feet into the back yard which Mr. Gassman intends to do. This is something the Hare Krishna Temple fought in their zoning-change objections but is powerless to stop under current zoning. At the same time, without the zoning change, the Rogers Park neighborhood will forfeit four affordable units and Mr. Gassman will ultimately own a smaller, less productive building. In other words, the inability of Mr. Gassman to obtain his requested zoning change creates a “worst option” outcome for all involved.