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CHICAGO-The $56-million redevelopment of a former Florsheim Shoe factory on the Northwest Side is another step closer to reality with a recent plan commission endorsement. Dubin Residential Communities Inc.’s request for $8.5 million in tax increment financing was endorsed by the community development commission in June.

Dubin plans to convert the vacant six-story, 250,000-sf industrial loft building at 3963 W. Belmont Ave., owned by Boston-based Iron Mountain Information Management Inc., to 175 condominiums, with 35 going to buyers under the city’s Chicago Partnership for Affordable Neighborhoods program. In addition, a four-story building at 3927 W. Belmont Ave. would be demolished and replaced by two buildings with 31,300 sf of retail space.

In addition to closing on the purchase of the two parcels totaling 2.9 acres, Dubin Residential Communities’ mixed-use planned development needs city council approval. Not only are the parcels now zoned M1-1 and RS-3, the condominium conversion will create 75 more units than allowed under the proposed B3-5 zoning. Also, the current building’s 81-foot height is six feet taller than allowed. However, the project’s density is 17% less than what would be allowed under the new zoning.

The only opposition to the project came at the plan commission last week, when a member of Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.’s affordable housing committee questioned the need for city financial assistance. “We don’t feel there’s a need for city resources,” says Maria Romero, adding Dubin Residential should be required to keep 15% of its units affordable without tax increment financing assistance. “These are developers who build high-end developments, and we shouldn’t put our money in that.”

The argument was unanimously rejected by the plan commission, whose members note Dubin Residential is keeping 20% of the units affordable to those earning the area’s median income or less. “The development of this white elephant, which has been a blight on the community for many years, would raise taxes,” 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone concedes. “But it also would raise the quality of life.”

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