The Jefferson Park Free Press

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November 30, 2005

Volume II                          News and Commentary                     Issue VII Volume II                          News and Commentary                           Issue IV

      by Robert Bank

Is this a Fraud, a Sham or a Concept?

At the Copernicus Center (old Gateway Theatre), 5218 W. Lawrence, on November 9th, 2005, the DPD held a community meeting, promoting a 10-story condo plan for the 5201 W. Lawrence block which is near Milwaukee Avenue. Over 300 Jefferson Park residents were in attendance, most of whom were notified by the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association’s flyers that were distributed throughout the neighborhood by their members.

Denise Roman, Project Manager, Department of Planning & Development (DPD) opened the meeting by saying, “there’s been several proposals of this site over the years.”  Hmmm, that’s interesting considering Denise Roman’s comment just this past April was that “there is no plan”, when she was asked about the condo proposal on the 5201 block of W. Lawrence.

After a PowerPoint presentation promoting the 10-story plan, residents that signed in, and put an “X” after their name, were permitted to ask questions.

After the second speaker, resident Diane Prosser asked, “what can we do to make fewer stories, like maybe three?”

Denise Roman retorted “I’ve noted that you would like the building lowered” and then she proceeded to call the next resident with a question. The crowd grew restless and finally,

someone shouted, “you haven’t answered...”

Denise Roman interrupted with: “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!”

Man in audience, “You have stated but you haven’t answered & have completely ignored the last few people who have asked questions but…”

Denise Roman, “What I stated at the beginning of the meeting was that....”

Crowd interrupts, “answer the questions!”

Denise Roman, “EXCUSE ME! Excuse me sir, RESPECT...”

Woman in audience, “You said you would answer questions”

Denise Roman: “If its something the developer can answer right now he can answer, if he can’t, he can’t”

Woman, “Can you ASK the developer?”

Denise Roman speaking to developer Jim Kozonis, “Jim, do you want to respond at how this can be lowered?”

Jim Kozonis gives a dumb look toward his architect, which draws laughter from the crowd

Denise Roman turns and states, “Its not something we can answer this evening.”

This draws HOWLS from the audience.

The rest of the evening was more of the same frustration with resident after resident including this writer, pointing out that they didn’t want this plan when it was presented nearly two-years ago as 7-stories, when residents that live adjacent to the proposed development met with the DPD and the developer. 98.7 percent of the residents that live within 250 feet of the development signed a petition against any up-zoning. A year later another petition was circulated amongst the residents within 500 feet, and again a resounding NO! to up-zoning was re-iterated. Without up-zoning the developer would be unable to build anything close to 7 let alone 10 stories.

At one point Denise Roman (DPD) gave us a glimpse into the DPD’s doublespeak psyche by answering neighborhood resident, Brian Perkinson’s pointed question, “this neighborhood is a throwback to what community means, why does the city seem to want to plan that away? ” and  “If the previous plan was for 7-stories, (and that was rejected by the community) then why do we have a proposal for 10-stories?”

Denise Roman answered in the typical DPD double-speak, “Its not a plan, it’s a concept; just like Ald. Levar’s letter from 10/24/04, “no formal plan has been submitted… ”. (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, I never said no plan, I said no formal plan).

Now I know how they sleep at night when they tell people there is no plan, they just tell themselves it’s not really a lie because we’re calling it a concept not a plan.


A high ranking DPD official was quoted as stating that the DPD takes its directive from the Alderman and that any request for up-zoning would have to come from Alderman Levar.

According to State law, any project that becomes a Planned Unit Development (PUD) must strictly adhere to the site’s previous zoning, in this case B3-2, which would allow for only 4, possibly 5 floors at best, and a total of 53 residences above storefronts.

So there you have it, this project/concept cannot take place without Alderman Levar signing off on the property to be up-zoned, before City Council even considers voting to make the property a PUD.


the best the Alderman could muster was that he wasn’t for 10 stories, that’s as reassuring as saying he’s against nuclear proliferation.



Even after the two and a half hour meeting, the best the Alderman could muster was that he wasn’t for 10 stories, that’s as reassuring as saying he’s isn’t for nuclear proliferation. This dog and pony show leads one to suspect that the entire 10-story proposal was a ruse, so that Ald. Levar could “mediate” the project down to 7-stories; hasn’t that been the real plan all along?

So you see its not the DPD or the Zoning Committee that allows or doesn’t allow this project to go forward its ALDERMAN LEVAR who has total control and total responsibility or TOTAL BLAME.

It’s ALDERMAN LEVAR who has total control and total responsibility or TOTAL BLAME.



Trying to Anticipate Doublespeak

This is why, when the Jefferson Park Free Press filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOIR) that revealed developer Jim Kozonis’Delko Construction’s plans for condos on where the Copernicus Center/Gateway Theatre now sits, we literally asked for “Any and all proposals for development. Formal or informal, approved, unapproved or otherwise...” I guess next time we’ll have to add concepts and formal concepts too.


View Property by PIN Number or Address on the web:

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


VIEW WHEN THE ZONING COMMITTEE WILL MEET: 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)






‘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:





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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 



We’ve corrected the “sq. ft minimum lot area required per unit” numbers in this issue

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

RT 3.5  :         1,250 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit           *allows   5  units  on a double lot

RT 4     :         1,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit           *allows   6  units  on a double lot

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