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Alderman collects feedback on proposed new development for site of Belmont Avenue Ann Sather

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CHICAGO (CBS) -- Ald. Bennett Lawson (44th) has been collecting community feedback on a proposed development that would replace two older brick buildings on Belmont Avenue – one of which houses the flagship Ann Sather restaurant – with a new residential and commercial development.

The new development at 925 W. Belmont Ave. would be taller than most of the buildings around it – with a brick, steel, and concrete structure on the lower floors and mostly glass above. It would stand 11 stories and 120 feet tall and would contain 210 residential units – of which 42 would be set aside for affordable housing. There would be 36 parking spaces.

The design also calls for 9,913 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Eckenhoff Saunders

Currently, a pair of two-story vintage buildings occupy the space. To the south stands the flagship location of Ann Sather – the iconic Chicago Swedish restaurant chain owned by former Ald. Tom Tunney (44th).

Ann Sather has been located on the south side of Belmont Avenue between the Chicago Transit Authority 'L' tracks and Clark Street since Ann Sather herself first took over an eatery on the block in 1945 – but has moved several times. The restaurant moved to the current location at 909 W. Belmont Ave. in 2007 – most recently before that, it had been located at 929 W. Belmont Ave., the current home of Reckless Records and the Clarity Clinic.

Ann Sather also has locations at 3415 N. Broadway in East Lakeview, and 1147 W. Granville Ave. in Edgewater. Other locations have also come and gone over the years – including one each in Andersonville, Hyde Park, and Wicker Park.

The building to the north – on the other side of the entrance to a parking lot – houses the American Vapor vape shop, Strings Ramen, BopNgrill Korean fast food restaurant, The Gallery Bookstore, and the current location of Belmont Army Vintage. The southernmost storefront in the building most recently housed Buzzed Bakery, but is now vacant.

A 44th Ward survey on the proposed new development asked residents their overall opinions about the development – and what they were most excited and concerned about. The survey noted the development would be located 200 feet from the CTA Belmont Red, Brown, and Purple Line station, and would be made up primarily of studio and one-bedroom apartments.

On the Chicago subreddit last month, some participants in a discussion about the proposal were enthusiastic about the prospect of high-density housing – particularly near a major mass transit station. But others expressed concern about the amount of glass in the design, and worried that the small businesses located in the existing buildings would give way to large-scale national tenants in the new one.

The 44th Ward website notes the proposal is still in its initial stage – and is to undergo "a thorough process of community engagement and feedback to ensure it meets the needs and expectations of the Lakeview residents."

In the ward newsletter issued Friday, Lawson wrote that his office had already received 300 responses to the survey.

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