New Plan Released For Former Heartland Cafe Site

Bushra Ghaniwala | The PhoenixThe developers of the apartment building set to be constructed in place of Rogers Park’s demolished Heartland Cafe have changed their plans for the property due to zoning issues, officials said.

Developers of the apartment building slated to be built on the grounds of Rogers Park’s demolished Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood Ave.) have downsized the plans for the property, officials said. 

The cafe served as a community hub in Rogers Park with poetry readings, live music, vegan food options and political events. The land was purchased by the Goldman family in January 2019 and the cafe was demolished in May 2019, The Phoenix  reported

The initial proposal for the site was shared in June 2019. The revised plan has cut the residential units to half the original amount and doesn’t provide any affordable housing units, according to the website of the 49th Ward, which serves most of Rogers Park and some parts of West Ridge.

The change in plans is partly because the 49th Ward decided not to change the site’s zoning designation, according to Torrence Gardner, director of economic and community development for the 49th Ward. 

Bushra Ghaniwala | The Phoenix The 49th Ward office chose not to change zoning laws for the development because the plans didn’t have enough affordable housing units and the building would’ve been taller than others nearby.

Gardner said the developer’s initial plan didn’t include enough affordable housing units and could make the area around West Lunt Avenue and North Glenwood Avenue more densely populated. 

 The initial plan for the site consisted of 60 dwelling units across five floors and one floor for parking and utilities, according to the 49th Ward website. The new plan will have 30 residential units across three floors, the website said. 

The ground floor will house retail space and the fifth floor will have a 467-square foot party room and a 568-square foot deck overlooking North Glenwood Avenue. The plan also includes a parking lot for 15 cars and storage space for 30 bicycles, according to the Ward website.

Developer Sam Goldman said the plan was revised because 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden and the community decided not to approve a zoning change. He said he’s now building what’s possible without the zoning change. He said the building will be about ten feet shorter than initially planned due to the current zoning laws. 

Goldman said construction might start as early as March 2020 when his team receives approvals from various city departments to begin work.

Gardner said the developer has the right to build anything within the bounds of the current zoning designation. Gardner said Goldman doesn’t need to present his redevelopment plans to the community like he did in June 2019 because he isn’t seeking a zoning change this time. 

When asked about the previous plan, Goldman said the increased dwelling units would’ve satisfied community needs. 

Bushra Ghaniwala | The Phoenix

“We were making some concessions to try to put together a project we thought would suit the community well as well as provide much needed density on transit which we are looking for throughout the city,” Goldman said. “People want to live near the train and we were trying to deliver to that need.”

Rent prices haven’t officially been released. Goldman estimates that it would range between $1.85 and $2.30 per square foot. According to a US Neighborhood Price Index on, on average, family apartments cost $1.31 per square foot and single person apartments cost $1.91 per square foot in Rogers Park. 

Gardner said experiences from the Heartland site’s redevelopment has persuaded the Ward to increase and improve community planning processes in future development projects.

Gardner said he hopes new local laws will require each residential building to have a higher percentage of affordable housing units. He said Hadden is looking to work on such legislation. 

The Ward communicates any community recommendations about the ground-floor retail space to Goldman and his team, who welcome such suggestions, Gardner said. 

“I would love to see the retail component go to some kind of use that includes a community gathering space … within the constraints of economics,” Goldman said. 

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