Compared with the recent ruckus raised by a non-existent housing development in Northcenter, Alan Candea’s proposal for condos on a vacant lot at 4845 N. Damen Ave. met with little opposition during Tuesday night’s meeting of Winnemac Park Neighbors. Attendees’ muted reaction was more along the lines of “Great, more condos. There goes my dream of a community garden.”
If there were an even vaguely controversial aspect of the development that would be its three-year construction timeline. Candea, principal and co-founder of Candea Development, is planning three four-story buildings to be built on a string of contiguous lots — each consisting of seven residential units and two commercial spaces — one structure at a time. (The commercial spaces are dictated by the site’s zoning. “It’s not a great area for that but it’s a requirement.”) Work won’t begin on successive buildings until the units in its predecessor have sold.
“I’m giving you the worst-case scenario,” Candea said, noting that a recent development of his at California and Argyle sold out within 10 days; similar success would accelerate his timetable on Damen. “There is a huge demand for this area,” he said. “The city’s pushing north; all these neighborhoods are growing.” Still, Candea acknowledged that months and months of crews drilling and hammering aren’t likely to earn him any friends among residents who live adjacent to the property. “You’re not going to be happy with me while I’m here but you will be when I’m done.”
Candea is carving out an interesting niche for himself, specializing in large condos intended as an affordable alternative to single-family homes. “These units are designed for people with small children,” he said. The three-bedroom condos all feature outdoor space in excess of 700 square feet; one two-bedroom unit in each building (the seventh unit, situated in the rear) will have its own 1,500-square-foot deck.
For those concerned about stress on street parking, each building boasts eight heated, indoor spaces for the seven units, plus a bike room. For those concerned about architectural details, the buildings’ design is loosely based on the pump station at Lawrence Avenue and the Chicago River. “We use a little bit of the old and new and try to bring it together,” said Candea.