New Land Enterprises’ Kenilworth Apartment Development Informational Meeting
This meeting was held to discuss New Land Enterprises proposed apartment building for the corner of Kenilworth and Farwell. Although this proposal appeared to have strong support by the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee it was held at the request of Alderman Nik Kovac to allow for this “informational” meeting. Alderman Kovac explained the purpose for holding this meeting and said that “I wanted to make sure everyone had the chance to see plan, and comment on the plan.” The turnout for the meeting was somewhat surprising in that fifteen to twenty people were in attendance, many of whom are regulars at East Side development meetings, even though it was an “informational” meeting.
The building will have 20 studio and 70 one-bedroom units ranging in size from 630-850 square feet and costing from $800 to $1400 a month to rent. Boris Gokhman explained that “the rental market is the best in the past 10 to 15 years,” and that New Land Enterprises’ rental units are “97% full across the board.” The construction would begin in late March and would complete in 12 to 14 months with the hope of renting the building before the summer was over because as Boris Gokhman said “we can’t afford them to be vacant going into winter.” It won’t include a green roof but will have numerous green features, including an ENERGY STAR white roof, ENERGY STAR appliances, and all materials will be sourced from less than 500 miles. Scott Kindness added that it will also have indoor bike storage facilities and that they are exploring other green features. Alderman Kovac explained that the current zoning would allow about 30 residential units which if the developer wished could all have been built as three bedroom apartments. He was encouraged that project didn’t attempt to stay within zoning because this configuration could of essentially been designed as a “private dorm” much like The Park at 1824 project.
The conversation turned to New Land Enterprises’ project on Downer Avenue when a resident spoke out saying all you’ve done is torn stuff down and put restaurants out of business. Boris Gokhman explained that he had demolished four buildings that were closed for ten years and that previous landlord had let them fall apart. Then he explained that both Einstein Bagels and The Chancery had decided to close before he bought property. Further he added that New Land Enterprises offered Einstein Bagels a year of free rent but they turned him down as Einstein Bagels was losing too much money.
He also spoke about the Harry W. Schwartz building’s vacant upper floors saying that “when I came to this country (nineteen years ago) it was already vacant,” and that New Land Enterprise’s had spent $1 million to fix and build out the upper floors for office use. He went on to explain that you couldn’t rent those office spaces without parking and that New Land Enterprises had spent $6 million on the garage to support the office uses.
Despite the meeting being held to discuss New Land Enterprises’ apartment proposal it was apparent that many of the concerns, issues, and even motives were related to the Downer Avenue project.