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CHICAGO-A Southwest Side chocolate warehouse will be demolished and replaced by a $70-million residential development that can hardly be called plain vanilla. Up to 250 units, most of them townhouses or units in two- to six-flats, will be built in the 4900 and 5000 blocks of South Lawndale Avenue during the next three years.

“It’ll be one of the largest residential developments on the Southwest Side in 50 years,” says John Molloy of the department of planning and development. Adds Alderman Bernard Stone, whose 50th Ward covers the far North Side, “This really reflects the old-Chicago neighborhood style. I’m glad to see a neighborhood on the Southwest Side coming back and be redeveloped.”

The developer, 5007 Lawndale Corp., includes New West Realty Inc.’s Theodore Mazola. “We’ll be starting as soon as we get permitted, which we hope is November,” he tells GlobeSt.com. His partnership is negotiating letters of intent with two potential lenders, he adds.

World’s Finest Chocolate sold its vacant 47-year-old warehouse and 14.8-acre site earlier this year for $5.6 million, according to property records. Current zoning of the property is M1-2 and RS-2, but the plan commission is recommending a planned development that would allow for about 600,000 sf to be built.

The partnership’s current plans call for 82 townhouses and 66 single-family homes ranging from $275,000 to $500,000, Mazola says. In addition, 5007 Lawndale Corp.’s proposal includes another 66 units in two-, three- and six-flat buildings. Mazola tells GlobeSt.com it remains to be seen whether the units will condominiums or if the 18 buildings would have single owners. “There hasn’t been a market there for a long time, so we need some flexibility,” Mazola says.

Although the property is in a tax increment financing district, 5007 Lawndale Corp. is not seeking city financial assistance, Molloy says. In addition, the density of the proposed development is slightly less than what would be allowed under the new RT-3.5 zoning.

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