Vacant land on the eastern edge of Bucktown could see new life with 370 new residences and retail shops proposed by the developers behind “Triangle Square.”

Named “triangle” for the shape of the 4.5 acres it will sit on at the intersection of Elston and Webster avenues and “square” as a nod to a town square gathering spot, the mixed-used development from Belgravia Group and Bond Cos. would have 300 apartments and 70 condos.

The housing will be in two seven-story midrise buildings, one anchored by retail and the other by a parking garage, according to renderings by Lamar Johnson Collective architect Tod Desmarais.

David Goldman, chief operating officer of Belgravia Group, and Rob Bond, president of Bond Cos., say their firms plan to buy the land in 2018 contingent upon getting a zoning change to allow for the mixed-use development.

If the zoning change is approved, construction could begin in summer 2018 and Triangle Square could be ready in 2020. Goldman and Bond discussed the project with about 20 residents during a Bucktown Community Organization meeting Tuesday at Lottie’s, 1925 W. Cortland St.

Belgravia declined to discuss the land cost or the overall project cost.

The property is bordered by Elston on the west, Webster on the north and Metra Union Pacific North tracks on the east. The land has long been owned by a venture of Fred Eychaner’s printing and broadcasting company, Newsweb Corp. A company representative did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who was not at the meeting Tuesday, has not decided whether he supports the project. Paul Sajovec, a spokesman for Waguespack, said the alderman wants feedback from community groups in Bucktown and Lincoln Park as well as North Elston Avenue business owners.

Scaled down from a first pitch of 600 homes in buildings as tall as 12 stories, the latest iteration features a trio of aluminum, glass and masonry buildings. Two of the buildings would have residences and a third structure would be a two-story building with retail and offices.

Steve Jensen, a Bucktown resident and president of the Bucktown Community Organization, was not opposed to the modern look of the buildings.

“It’s an area open to architectural experimentation because it lost its identity 60 years ago,” Jensen said, eliciting chuckles from the crowd.

The Triangle Square project would bring 370 new residences and retail shops to vacant land at Elston and Webster avenues.

The Triangle Square project would bring 370 new residences and retail shops to vacant land at Elston and Webster avenues. | Alisa Hauser/For the Sun-Times

Philip Edison, chairman of the neighborhood group’s zoning committee, pointed out that “all of Elston has been under-utilized for a long time.”

Zoned for industrial use only, the site is across the street from a Kohl’s and a Best Buy and behind a Mariano’s grocery store.

“This is the first residential development we’ve seen pitched for land along Webster Avenue that connects Lincoln Park and Bucktown,” Edison said.

Bond billed the project as “an incredible opportunity” in a corridor that will see big changes now that the nearby A. Finkl & Sons steel plant has relocated. The city in May approved a plan to allow for new types of development besides manufacturing along the Chicago River.

The 70 condos will have two or three bedrooms and are expected to list for between $500,000 and $1 million. Studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments are planned. Each condo will have one parking space, while the 300 apartments will offer just 97 spaces.

Since the proposed development is within 1,300 feet of the Clybourn Metra station, Bond said it would qualify as a transit-oriented development and not be required to provide as much parking for residents.

“Elston is becoming a major bike corridor in the city,” Bond said.

Residents on Tuesday were mostly concerned that Triangle Square could create more car traffic, especially along Webster Street, a main route to get across the Chicago River.

Traffic consultant Michael Worthman said “all of the primary access” to Triangle Square will be along Elston Avenue and access to Triangle Square going east on Webster Street from Bucktown will be “right-turns only,” with no way for car drivers to turn out of the development and onto Webster.

“We know westbound Webster can be backed up all the way to railroad tracks at rush hour,” said Worthman, of Kenig Lindgren O’Hara Aboona.

“The focus is trying to push everything to Elston Avenue and minimize the impact on Webster.”

No retail tenants have been signed. Goldman said that “needs-based retail” such as a pharmacy, a family restaurant or a smaller grocer could occupy the storefronts.

Edison said the Bucktown Community Organization has not decided whether to support the zoning change.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen it; this is a process. From a community standpoint, we have to think, ‘What is it that we want in East Bucktown, what’s appropriate? Is it right? Is the size of it right, the mix of it right?” Edison said.