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CHICAGO-Sharing the impatience of the Forest Glen-Sauganash neighborhood over a lack of development at a site next to the Peterson Avenue interchange at the Edens Expressway, the community development commission has given a city department authority to acquire an entire 3.3-acre site in the 6000 block of N. Cicero Avenue. Meanwhile, Alfred Klairmont of Imperial Realty Co. remains hopeful that one of his latest plans will pass muster with the city’s department of planning and development, resulting in a $35-million retail and condominium project on the site that once included a gasoline station at the northwest corner of the interssection and a banquet hall further north.

“It’s a terrific site,” Klairmont tells GlobeSt.com after the commission’s vote Tuesday. “We’ll go ahead if the city lets us do it.”

Klairmont says he is in negotiations with the Whole Foods grocery chain for first-floor retail space as part of a proposal that would include 173 condominiums above it. If negotiations with Whole Foods fail to result in a lease, Klairmont already has given the department of planning and development a second scheme that includes 24,000 sf of retail space that would be divvied up among smaller users, with 153 condominiums above.

The city already had acquisition authority for 2 acres, but got the additional power to acquire another 1.3 acres Klairmont recently acquired from the Polish National Alliance, which ran the banquet hall at 6038-40 N. Cicero Ave. A larger site would be more attractive to retail developers, says Denise Roman of the department of planning and development.

“It’s rare that we find a huge redevelopment site in the Northwest District, in an affluent area such as Forest Glen,” she says.

However, Klairmont believes the city’s move may thwart his latest plans. “We’ve submitted two very good plans for review,” he says. “The city’s action runs interference to the development of this site.”Also, neighbors have had a hand in rejecting two previous Imperial Realty Co. proposals in 2000, one that would have built class-A office space above retail space, and another that had 230 condominiums and senior housing units above retail space. The neighborhood nixed office space for the prime location, Klairmont notes, and the latter plan died because of objections to its density.

Meanwhile, a real estate broker and nearby property owner wonder if Klairmont’s company, which owns and manages four office assets in the Peterson-Cicero area, has the experience to pull off a development. “They’re not developers,” says Mary Quinn, who owns a 2,100-sf commercial building at 6023 N. Cicero Ave. “It’s terrible looking across at what could be a wonderful benefit to the community.”

Klairmont responds by noting his 42-year-old company was involved in redeveloping a former Goldblatt’s store on Lincoln Avenue and Belmont Avenue with 52 loft condominiums, as well as redeveloping the W.F. Hall printing plant in the 4600 block of W. Diversey Avenue for retail and industrial use. He adds a co-developer has been sought, without success.

“We were looking to put together a team to redevelop this site,” Klairmont says. “Very frankly, we haven’t found a co-developer as enthusiastic and optimistic about this site as we are.”

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