The Jefferson Park Free Press

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October 25, 2005

Do not look for July/Aug./Sept. issues; we took the summer off !

Volume II                          News and Commentary                       Issue VI Volume II                          News and Commentary                           Issue IV

      by Robert Bank       by Robert Bank News and Commentary 

 

Copernicus Center/Gateway Theater Targeted for Redevelopment

The Jefferson Park Free Press has uncovered not one but two plans for redevelopment of the property known as the Copernicus Center/ Gateway Theater. The fate of the historic building is now in question considering the propensity of developer, Demetrios “Jimmy” Kozonis’ desire to build condominiums in the Jefferson Park area. The shocking revelation came when the City’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) responded to the Jefferson Park Free Press’ Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIR), asking for “any and all proposals for development, formal or informal, approved or un-approved or otherwise for the following address and associated PINs, 5216-5226 W. Lawrence Avenue, PIN (Property Identification Number) 13-09-332-005-0000, 13-09-332-006-0000, 13-09-332-007-0000, 13-09-332-008-0000” The written response from the DPD states that both plans were submitted by Kozonis’ Delko Construction and are currently being reviewed by the DPD. The DPD response also states, “these site plans are in draft form and subject to revision and may or may not result in a formal application.” The DPD’s letter continues, “These site plans are in draft form and are exempt under Freedom of Information until final”

The Jefferson Park Free Press placed a call to the Copernicus Center offices and was told by a staff worker that they certainly were not aware of any plans. Minutes later, Gregg Kobelinski, the Copernicus Center president himself called us, inquiring what we were asking about.  In further conversation Mr. Kobelinski stated that he knows nothing of any plans by Delko or any other developer and insists that the Copernicus Center is not for sale. ___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

No, I think it’s far more likely that the DPD accidentally let the cat out of the bag.

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I contacted Denise Roman of the DPD for an explanation. Ms. Roman claims that our FOIR request was misinterpreted and the DPD’s response was concerning a project at the old Cowhey Material and Fuel Co. at 5310 W. Ainslie Avenue, not the Copernicus Center/Gateway Theater, and that there is no plan at all for the Copernicus Center. Its hard to believe the DPD’s Ms. Roman, considering she continues to claim “there is no plan” to those who inquire about the DPD’s controversial plan to have the City declare “eminent domain” against Sportif Bike Importers and give the bike store property over to developer Jim Kozonis, so he can build his proposed 7-story 132 unit condo. This, even after Ms. Roman had testified for the plan at a Community Development Commission (CDC) hearing in 2003. No, I think it’s far more likely that the DPD accidentally let the cat out of the bag. I can just imagine that our Freedom of information request (FOIR) got put in a pile of dozens of other FOIRs and put on some underling’s desk, and the underling, not knowing that this project was top secret, gave up the dirt on this one.

(CONTINUED ON OTHER SIDE)

Nick Black, president of Jim Kozonis’ Delko Construction Company said he is unaware of any plans for the Copernicus Center but that his involvement is with managing the company and not with individual construction projects.

Meanwhile Alderman Levar (45th) stated “there is no such plans for Copernicus what so ever.” The Alderman also stated that when the DPD was reviewing our Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIR), they were also looking at another less specific FOIR that the Jefferson Park Free Press submitted, and the DPD was looking at different plans across the street from the Copernicus Center, at Jefferson Village, (apparently this is the name of proposed 7-story condo plan across the street from the Copernicus). The Alderman reiterated that the Copernicus Center is not for sale and that nothing has ever been on the table for the Copernicus to be for sale. He also stated that the Copernicus Center had their biggest festival in their history and hope to be here another 25 years.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I felt better…,

but then I remembered a letter Ald. Levar sent out two years ago concerning the proposed 7-story condo; “there is no formal plan and no plan is pending approval” the Alderman’s letter boldly stated, I suppose the word “formal” technically made that statement true, but to most citizens that received that letter, its conveyed meaning was that there was no plan to worry about at all.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I felt better…,

but then I remembered a letter Ald. Levar sent out two years ago concerning the proposed 7-story condo across the street from the Copernicus; “there is no formal plan and no plan is pending approval” the Alderman’s letter boldly stated, I suppose the word “formal” technically made that statement true, but to most citizens that received this letter, its conveyed meaning was that there was no plan to worry about at all. As we all know now, there has been a plan for the proposed and controversial 7-story condo across the street from the Copernicus since 1999.

 

So whom do you believe? Do you believe the formal response letter from the DPD that says there is a plan in draft form, or the wiggling response over the telephone from the DPD’s Ms. Roman, that, oops its a mistake, the DPD was looking at the Cowhey property? Do you believe the Copernicus’s president, Mr. Kobelinski who also happens to sit on the Parkway Bank Board of Directors with developer Jim Kozonis? Or do you believe Alderman Levar who makes fine distinctions between “plans” and “formal plans”?

I believe the cat is out of the bag and some people are not too happy about it.

 

View Property by PIN Number or Address on the web: http://www.cookcountyassessor.com/filings/SearchFlat/search.asp

Click on the camera icon for a picture of the property too!

 

The Jefferson Park Free Press’s Magnifying Glass on Wilson Park Gets Results

Finally, since our June story about the crumbling condition of the pathways around Wilson Park came out, we can now report that Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) steamroller and asphalt truck crews were hard at work at the park last week and they did a smooooth job on the Park’s pathway, it looks great and is a pleasure to walk on. Nice job all!

(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

 

Mayfair House with Side Yard Vanishes!

Have you ever noticed the nice neat home with the side yard on the east side of Kenneth Avenue at Sunnyside? Or how about the large home directly across the street, the one on the double lot? Well they’ve disappeared, gone, vanished!  Now two homes sit where the nice neat home with the side yard that ran along Sunnyside Ave. once stood, and directly across the street, the house on the double lot, is being replaced by FIVE town-homes, with hardly a blade of grass on the property.                                                             

This scenario is being played out, not just in Mayfair, but all over the 45th ward, and Alderman Levar has done nothing to stop it. Ald. Levar may occasionally cry crocodile tears and make a token gesture such as deferring the subject property from the Zoning Committee’s agenda for a month or two, with promises to hold future meetings with the residents (When and where those future meetings are held always seems sketchy), but in the end the project will sail right on through unless area residents are able to get enough bodies and make enough noise to keep the pressure on.

Alderman Levar has left the gate wide open for any and all developers to build whatever they want, and the local residents are kept in the dark. Clandestine neighborhood meetings take place, but not all are invited, and if the scales can’t be tipped with the ringers sent into these “community” meetings, then the Alderman will promise to hold a follow-up meeting that never seems to come about. Next thing you know the City Council approves the plan and the neighbors are left to grumble. Other Alderman have down-zoned entire areas of their wards, its time for Alderman Levar to do the same and protect the character of our Northwest-side neighborhoods.

 

The Next City Council Zoning Committee Meeting is scheduled for October 27th 2005, 10:00am in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall. The online Zoning Committee Agenda was not available at press time. Please visit the web site below and check for items in your ward, which will be listed numerically by ward number. Deferred items will appear at the end of the regular agenda also in numerical order.

 

VIEW WHEN THE ZONING COMMITTEE WILL MEET: http://www.chicityclerk.com/citycouncil/calendar.html

(You still must call the Zoning Committee chair Ald. Banks’ office at (312) 744-6857 to find out what is on the agenda until a week before the meeting when it is available online)

 

VIEW THE NEW ZONING ORDINANCE, GO TO:

http://w28.cityofchicago.org/website/zoning/

 

‘Round the Old Oak Tree

The bronze plaque commemorating the planting of a handsome oak tree about 25 paces north of the park house at Wilson Park, 4630 N. Milwaukee Avenue is missing.  Collective memory suggests the tree was planted by one of our area’s Girl Scout troops.  If anyone has information as to what was inscribed on the plaque and which troop or what year the tree was planted, please “e”mail the Jefferson Park Free Press at:   admin@jeffersonparkfreepress.com

 

The Cheat Sheet

It’s All About The Dash (-)  (edited from our February’05 issue)

As the number following the dash goes up so does the density. For example a “- 1” requires a minimum of 2,500 square ft. of lot area for every unit, a “-1.5” allows 1,350 square feet of lot area per unit,  “- 2” allows only 1000 sq. ft. of lot area per unit and a  “-3” allows for even greater density requiring only 400 square feet per unit. So for example if you had 29,800 sq. ft. of land and you were zoned B2-3 you could build 74 condos! If the property was zoned B2-2 you would be allowed 29 condos, B2-1.5 would allow for 22 condos and if zoned B2-1, you could only build 11 condos.

That number after the dash makes a big difference. Now imagine that you bought a property zoned B3-1 but you were able to get it rezoned to B2-3, that “dash three” could make your property worth a lot lot more. Why should the Alderman and the City give away that zoning? What is the community getting in return for this extreme density? What about the impact on the schools, traffic congestion, flooding and quality of life in general? Why would Alderman Levar want to diminish the quality of life just to increase a developer’s profits? If a developer bought the property as zoned let him build as zoned. Once the zoning change is allowed, a precedent will have been set and the City will have a very difficult time refusing, if it can refuse at all, future requests for up-zoning on the remaining parcels of that block.

 

Example:         Zoning classification for B2-__                          Example: 29,800 sq. ft lot

 

Dash  1     :    2,500 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 11 condos

Dash  1.5  :    1,350 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 22 condos

Dash  2     :    1,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 29 condos

Dash  3     :       400 sq. ft. minimum lot area   per unit               allows approx. 74 condos 

 

The same applies for residential zoning. The density issue especially comes into play with older homes on double lots (50 x 125), which have 6,250 square feet or more. This type property has become attractive to developers because they can be torn down and replaced with two homes. The increased density affects not just the character of the neighborhood but also parking, school overcrowding and flooding (as green space that acted as a watershed is reduced).

Leaving a home on a double lot under R3 zoning or greater is like leaving a freshly baked pie on the window sill with the aroma wafting under the noses of developers. Down-zoning to “current use” such as R2 would stop the destruction of homes existing on double-lots. Note the chart below.

 

RS 1     :         6,250 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit             allows   1  unit    on a double lot

RS 2     :         5,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit             allows   1  unit    on a double lot

RS 3     :         2,500 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit           *allows 2.5 units  on a double lot

RS 3.5  :         2,500 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit           *allows 2.5 units  on a double lot

RS 4     :         1,650 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit           *allows 3.7 units  on a double lot

           * A variance, or a slightly larger lot may allow for an extra unit.

 

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