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CHICAGO-Multifamily developers got a wet blanket thrown at them by 40th Ward Alderman Patrick L. O’Connor, whose turf covers six North Side communities. The City Council’s committee on zoning endorsed O’Connor’s effort to downzone stretches of properties in Edgewater, Lincoln Square, North Park, Rogers Park and West Ridge from R-4 to R-3, effectively cutting the maximum size of any new buildings by 25%.

In addition, an area along Lincoln Avenue near Catalpa Street will be downzoned from B4-3 to B4-2. Instead of a 30,000 sf building on a 10,000-sf site, a developer would be limited to 22,000 sf. Also, property in the 5400 block on North Western Avenue is being rezoned in an attempt to stop what O’Connor believes is a proliferation of car repair shops.

O’Connor’s motivation for downzoning residential property, which directly or indirectly affected 6,000 property owners, is to stem the trend of teardowns throughout the city. Single-family homes, two- and three-flats have made way for larger condominium buildings throughout the city, which proponents of downzoning say creates parking and traffic problems as well as pricing out long-time homeowners.

However, not everyone is in favor of O’Connor’s efforts. Mark Ridge, who owns a two-flat in the Edgewater neighborhood, figures downzoning could cost property owners $100,000 in market value, while property taxes will likely increase.

“I’m one block off Clark (Street),” Ridge says. “Everything around me is an apartment building. It’s already happened there.”

In Ridge’s case, the zoning change means a 5,670-sf multifamily building would be allowed on his property, rather than a 7,560-sf building previously allowed.

Meanwhile, other aldermen blessed zoning changes paving the way for small multifamily redevelopments that include:

• An $8-million, 20-unit townhouse project at 4137-47 N. Narragansett Ave.

• A 12-unit, $3-million retail and condominium building at 5643-53 N. Clark St., replacing a one-story retail building.

• A 10-unit condominium building on 6,200 sf at 1506-08 N. Sedgwick St., replacing a three-flat and small commercial building.

• A 10-unit condominium building at 2749-51 W. 18th St., replacing a 15,300-sf industrial building.

• An eight-unit retail and condominium building on a vacant lot at 2156-58 N. Damen Ave.

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