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Morse Avenue Getting Face-lift With Brewpub, New Housing Development

 Changes to the building's original design include a larger lobby, an Changes to the building’s original design include a larger lobby, an “enhanced pedestrian experience” like more windows and landscaping, and scrapping studio apartments for larger units — bringing the total number of apartments down to 45 from 50, according to developers. View Full Caption
Tawani Enterprises

ROGERS PARK — A stretch of Morse Avenue that lost its momentum in recent years is picking up steam again with construction set to start on an eight-story apartment building and the recent announcement of a neighboring brewpub.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) held a community meeting Tuesday night at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave., to discuss the Col. Jennifer Pritzker-backed residential and parking development across the street at 1323 W. Morse Ave. that has been in the works for the last two years.

“It’s an exciting time for the neighborhood. A lot is going on,” Moore said. 

The project is spearheaded by Pritzker’s Tawani Enterprises and includes three stories of parking topped with five floors of one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The units will range from about 620-square-foot one-bedrooms to 800- to 1,100-square-foot two-bedrooms with rent ranging from $1,100 to $2,000.

How This Project Would Change Rogers Park’s skyline:

As allowed under city law, Tawani opted to pay a fee to the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund instead of setting aside four of five of the building’s 45 apartments as affordable housing. 

Of the 73 on-site parking spaces, about 50 will be reserved for residents and the rest set aside for public use. 

Kimberlee Carr, a property manager for Tawani Enterprises, said if some residents choose not to use their parking spaces they could be opened up to monthly or daily parkers.

Work on the building is expected to begin soon, with construction wrapping up in late spring/early summer 2018, according to project managers at Pepper Construction, the general contractor on the project.

Pepper Construction’s Greg Leofanti assured community members his team was taking steps to ensure construction would not disturb the neighborhood. 

“We want to stay as separated as we can from everybody around us,” Leofanti said. “We’re not going to be disturbing the community. That’s our goal.”

Developers were given the zoning changes they needed from the city in September 2015, though there’s been little movement at the site since the former strip mall on the property was demolished in August that same year.

Nicole Kleidon, a real estate project manager with Tawani Enterprises, said the building was an exciting venture because it represented Tawani’s “first ground up” new residential property in the neighborhood. 

Kimberlee Carr of Tawani Enterprises talks to Rogers Park residents at a community meeting Tuesday. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

The building isn’t the only addition to that block of Morse. 

Bill Hurley, owner of Empirical Brewery in Ravenswood, confirmed Monday that he would be opening a second location and mini-brewery in the former Act One Pub and an empty adjacent storefront in the coming weeks. 

Hurley also met with community members during Moore’s meeting, providing more details about his venture — which will include  a five-barrel brewing operation, small retail area and brewpub.

The system will create five rotating beers that will be unique to the Roger Park location.

Hurley said he didn’t have business hours yet, but didn’t expect to stay open later than midnight or 1 a.m.

A serendipitous restaurant opening at the Act One Pub, combined with the input of employees of Hurley’s who live in Rogers Park and other staff members with strong restaurant experience, made the Morse Avenue location the perfect fit for Hurley, he said.

“We were lucky enough to come across Tawani; they were the right partner for us,” Hurley said. “They’re obviously not just in it to make a buck, they’re in it to actually improve this neighborhood.”

At the new location, slated to open later this spring, Hurley will start off as a restaurant and bar serving food specifically crafted to pair with beer and new beer cocktails meant to “explore further how food and beer play together.”

“How does your beer pair with J.B. Alberto’s Pizza?” Moore said.

While the brewery component goes through the steps of obtaining the permits needed for itsoperation (including at the federal, state and city levels) the taproom component will open first for dinner, then gradually add a “beer brunch” and lunch.

Hurley said he expects to be serving food and drinks in the upcoming months.

Bill Hurley of Empirical Brewery spoke about the new brewpub and mini-brewery he’s opening at the former Act One Pub location across from the development. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

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