At a virtual community meeting on Tuesday evening, the owners of Lincoln Park's aging Lakeshore Sport & Fitness club presented plans to modernize their property at 1320 W. Fullerton Avenue and construct a new 14-story residential addition containing 154 apartments.

Lakeshore's business has suffered during the COVID pandemic and the club faces increasing competitive pressures from the new Equinox at the Lincoln Common to the east and the renovated Midtown Athletic Club to the west.

The existing building at 1320 W. Fullerton won't win any beauty awards. It was originally built as a World War II armament factory and was converted into a fitness club in the 1970s. Google Street View

"[The club] suffers from not being purpose-built," explained Peter Goldman, who spoke on behalf of the club's ownership at the meeting. "It's over 80 years old and it's a challenge to manage and maintain."

Goldman said he and the other owners have been approached by real estate developers looking to demolish the existing structure and build housing on the narrow but deep site. "Our real estate value outweighs our value as a club," said Goldman. "So we need to do something."

Instead of selling to developers, the property owners have decided that renovating the club and adding apartments would be the best way to keep Lakeshore operating. The team has been working on their proposal since 2018 and has held meetings with Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and leaders of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association.

Designed by Hammersley Architecture, the mixed-use proposal is traditional in appearance and features a "Beaux-Arts style" brick and limestone facade. Goldman said his team explored more contemporary designs with a glassy facade but received early pushback from the neighborhood groups.

A massing diagram of the proposed development for the long, narrow site. The plan pushes density along Fullerton Avenue while preserving the low-rise athletic courts to the north.

The plan will concentrate the majority of its height and density along Fullerton on the south side of the property to mitigate shadow impacts on the single-family homes to the east, north, and west. Perched above renovated amenity levels for Lakeshore Sport & Fitness, the 158-foot-tall tower will feature seven residential floors with 22 units each. The team intends to locate the required 10 percent affordable housing on-site.

The apartment levels are topped by an unoccupied mechanical space on the 13th floor and a 14th-floor penthouse that will contain elevator equipment and changing rooms for the proposed building's two rooftop pools. Renters in the building will have access to the club's amenities and on-site parking will increase from 207 to 237 spaces. The project would be built in phases to allow the health club to continue operating as it's renovated.

The proposed redevelopment of 1320 W. Fullerton will require a zoning change from M1-2 to B3-3 as part of a Planned Development application. The project will require the blessing of Ald. Hopkins as well as the Plan Commission and full City Council to move forward. 

Ald. Hopkins stressed the point that he has not made a decision on supporting the proposal. In the meantime, the alderman's office will continue to collect feedback from Lincoln Park residents (many of whom don't take kindly to tall buildings invading their auto-centric slice of urban suburbia).

"This is only the beginning of what I expect will be a lengthy process," Hopkins said.