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Controversial Development Resurfaces in Ravenswood

A barren Ravenswood parking lot may soon be home to a grocery store, parking garage, condo complex and more — if the developer’s “plan B” manages to appease the community that gave a cold shoulder to his first attempt earlier this year.

The “Ravenswood Station” mixed-use development would be built on a now-vacant Sears parking lot at the corner of Lawrence and Ravenswood Avenues, between the department store and the Metra commuter rail line.

Wilmette-based Crossroads Development Partners is revising its plans for the project, and the new layout will be made public in “late 2009 or early 2010,” said Robert Rawls, communications director for Ald. Gene Schulter (47th).

Original plans called for a supermarket, fitness center and a parking garage to be shared with Metra passengers, as well as a series of townhouses and an 11-story condominium building, said Dan Luna, Schulter’s chief of staff.

That large residential component drew the ire of 150 neighbors who showed up to view the proposal at a community meeting last June. While the community did not vote at that meeting, Luna said, residents’ opinions were clear.

“The temperature of that meeting sent the developers and the property owner back to the drawing board,” he said.

Ravenswood resident and realtor Eric Rojas attended that meeting at McPherson Elementary School. While he supports transit-oriented development and approves of the stores and parking garage, he worries that the condo building is too large for today’s market.

“I think six or seven (stories) may be fine, but 11 is going to be weird,” Rojas said. “If they’re all market rate condos, they’re not going to sell unless they’re priced absurdly low… Some would have to be rentals.”

Rojas and other residents may get a second crack on the proposal at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 1, according to a Vivian King, a spokesperson for Roundy’s Supermarkets, which will likely lease a spot in the development.

Representatives of Crossroads Development referred questions to their partner, Chicago-based Sierra Realty Advisors, who did not return phone calls by press time. Planners in the Chicago Community Development Department said they had no new information on the project.

Luna declined to comment on how the alderman felt about the original proposal or how the plans may have changed, but said he “would hope” that the condominium complex has been scaled back.

Most important to the alderman is the presence of a grocery store and parking facility in this spot, Luna said.

“That’s really the driving force behind this,” he said.

Roundy’s Supermarkets, the Milwaukee-based owner of Pick ‘n Save, Copps, Rainbow Foods and Metro Market stores, is “moving forward toward getting approval” for a spot in Ravenswood Station, King said.

Planners are still considering several possible fitness centers, Luna said.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the rail corporation will continue talks about sharing the cost of the proposed parking garage.

“We’re always interested in cooperating with the community and developers to help out on the parking situation near our station,” Gillis said.

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