Florida company looking to redevelop former White Cap Bottle Company headquarters in North Austin

According to its zoning application, Lionheart acquired the property in December 2017

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

The former White Cap Bottle Company factory and warehouse complex in North Austin, at 1819 N. Major Ave., one of the neighborhood's largest vacant industrial properties, may be poised for redevelopment as its current owners applied for a zoning change that will allow for commercial uses.

In August, the property's current owner, Miami based Lionheart Capital, is looking to rezone the property from purely industrial to a zoning area that would allow a wide variety of industrial and commercial uses. 

The application doesn't delve into any details, except that the company doesn't plan to make many changes to the building and that the shorter, two-story warehouse building will get an indoor parking garage on the first floor. 

Although the zoning application was originally scheduled to go before the Chicago City Council's Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on Oct. 7, it was deferred and it's not clear when it might be up for a vote.  

The roughly L-shaped complex is located in the industrial area around the Milwaukee District West line railroad tracks, towering over all of the surrounding buildings. It is made up of the seven-story manufacturing building at 1819-1833 N. Major Ave., and a warehouse at 1812 N. Central Ave. that was added later as part of the company's expansion. 

White Cap Bottle Company was best known for inventing the vacuum-sealed bottle lids and twist-off bottle caps. Originally based in Goose Island, it moved to North Austin in 1930 and the factory stayed open until 2002. 

According to its zoning application, Lionheart acquired the property in December 2017. It didn't elaborate on what it plans to do with the property, writing only that they are "seeking to permit the location and establishment of a commercial uses within the existing building, as part of its general rehabilitation." 

The company mentioned that it aims to create "approximately 282,050 square feet of commercial space," out of the total 359,374 square feet, and it specified that it doesn't intend to make any substantial changes to the exteriors. The application notes that parking will be provided on site and the plans submitted show indoor parking spaces on the smaller warehouse's first floor.  

Lionheart owns a number of hotels, shopping plazas and retail buildings, but the White Cap complex is its only property in the Chicagoland area. Out of the Box Ventures, the company's retail and commercial properties subsidiary, is advertising the building as the "White Cap Lofts," touting its proximity to Oak Park and downtown Chicago, as well as the fact that the building is "surrounded by 1.3 million residences in a 5-mile radius." 

Neither Lionheart nor Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), whose ward includes the buildings, did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment by deadline. 

Email: igorst3@hotmail.com

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