By: Matthew Muench
It has been one year since a fire destroyed beloved local businesses Twisted Hippo Brewing and Ultimate Ninjas, and forced several neighbors from their homes. The two commercial buildings and one residential building were removed entirely. Now, the City is about to make decisions about what will occupy the vacant lots formerly occupied by the businesses, and the window for community input is closing for those who want to weigh in on the current plan to build four six-flats.
Real estate developer Alan Candea is proposing to build a total of 24 condominium units across four 3.5-story buildings at 4343-4357 Richmond, at the corner of Montrose and Richmond. The units would be a mix of four-bedroom and three-bedroom, with projected sale prices of $525,000 – $700.000. Each six-unit building would have a six-car garage. Candea also owns the white-brick development across the street at 2924 W. Montrose.
Candea’s initial plan included only residential units. And he was quoted in real estate publication The Real Deal saying “no one wants commercial on the first floor…to have commercial on the first floor there would be a disaster.”
But extensive community input from residents, local businesses, and community organizations showed otherwise. The Alderman’s office and the developer received numerous objections to the lack of commercial activity at the street level on Montrose. Existing zoning regulations require commercial space for the Montrose-facing portion of the development, but the developers originally intended to request a Special Use permit to allow the all-residential plan.
A revised plan includes one commercial space in the ground level of the northernmost building, at the corner of Richmond and Montrose. This revision was welcomed by the community members who participated in the March 29th community hearing. However, the initial concept raised a few concerns from residents:
One concern was that the proposed commercial space is a significant reduction in commercial square footage from the pre-fire site. Barring a dramatic intervention in the process, this reduction appears unavoidable.
A related concern was raised over what type of business would operate out of the commercial space. Montrose Saloon co-owner David Putnam was one of several community members who highlighted the importance of securing a tenant that generates foot traffic, and ideally one that serves food, given the relative lack of food options in the neighborhood.
Last modified: May 6, 2023