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March 8, 2005

Volume II††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† News and Commentary†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Issue II

February 10th Zoning Meeting Update

by Robert Bank

On February 10th 2005, the Mayfair Civic Association held a meeting at the Irish American Heritage Center, concerning two proposed projects on West Lawrence Avenue. Ron Duplack, longtime president of the Mayfair Civic Association was the moderator. Mr. Duplack set the ground rules for the meeting which primarily were that each projectís representative would be given 25 minutes to make their presentation and answer questions from the audience and that each member of the audience would be allowed one question per project. Iím happy to report that the crowd of approximately 60 abided by these rules and almost no-one spoke out of turn. Ron Duplack made sure that anyone that had a question or comment was given the chance to speak.

The first project up to bat was developer Stan Bielís condo project at 4507 W. Lawrence Ave where currently a church, parsonage and another building sit on a 29,800 sq ft. lot. Mr. Bielís plans call for four identical looking 37 foot tall buildings housing a total of 30 condominium units. Each condo unit would have approximately 2,500 sq. ft.. The project would also have 22 garage spaces and 22 outside car spaces. The condos would sell for between $250,000 to $300,000. Mr. Bielís attorney, Jim Banks, nephew of 36th Ward Alderman William Banks, fielded most of the questions.

More than one resident pointed out the fact that this property has no alley or access to side streets (it sits in the middle of the block), cars could only enter and exit the project by way of Lawrence Avenue. Another resident also suggested this could cause traffic congestion especially when vehicles have to cross oncoming traffic in order to turn in or out of the complex. The same resident also asked if a traffic study has been done. Another resident voiced his concern that the area will end up like Lakeview, with traffic congestion and nowhere to park.

Mr. Banks answered that no traffic study has been done nor is it required, but suggested that CDOT (Chicago Dept. ofTransportation) handles traffic flow issues.

Attorney Jim Banks told the audience that under the proposed zoning change Mr. Biel could build 38 condos! After a couple of residents took Mr. Banks to task for approaching the density issue as if he already had the up-zoning, Mr. Banks had to admit that they could not build 38 or even 30 units on the site under itís current zoning of B3-1. Was Mr. Banks suggesting that the Mayfair residents should be thankful that his client Mr. Biel doesnít ram even more units down their throats? That sounds a bit disingenuous to me.

Hereís a thought, How Ďbout if the Mayfair residents tell Mr. Biel and his attorney that under the existing zoning you would be able to build approximately 11 units and also under the existing zoning, would be required to have stores on the first floor. I think Mr. Banks and his client should be thankful that the residents are kind enough to even listen to his 30 condo proposal.

Unlike the first proposal, the developer for the second project, Bob Tubic does not yet own the land at 4483 W. Lawrence Ave., more commonly known as the LawrEl Liquorsí parking lot, but has an offer to buy the property contingent on getting the up-zoning, according to Dan Osberg, lawyer for the property owners. Mr. Tubicís project is a 12 condo, 2 store, 18 parking space project at the corner of Lawrence and Kilbourn Avenues. This project received less criticism, that of which was mostly over the height, a towering 52 ft. that one resident feared would dwarf the neighboring buildings. Hear again the lawyer for the developer told the audience that under the proposed up-zoning the developer could build 24 units! The fact of the matter is that under current zoning they can probably build only 4 condos over 2 storefronts. Proposed zoning and current zoning are two different things.

However it is worth considering that unless a restrictive covenant is signed with the City, restricting the height and or density, such as Alderman Doherty of the 41st Ward has frequently required, then once the developer gets the up-zoning there is nothing to stop the developer or future owner to go to the highest allowable use!



Alderman Levar Boasts He Always Insists On 1.5 Parking Spaces Per Condo Unit: At Best Heís Mistaken

by Robert Bank

At the above mentioned Mayfair Civic Association meeting, Alderman Levar boasted that he always insists on one and a half parking spaces per condo unit. The fact of the matter is Alderman Levar seldom requires 1.5 parking spaces per unit.

Case in point, The 25 condo unit development at Pensacola and Milwaukee Avenues just south of Montrose has 27 car spaces for residents. There are 11 more spaces outside but these are reserved for the storefronts that occupy the first floor. Just a little over a year ago, at 5533 W. Higgins Ave.,where a 100 year old Victorian home, turret and all once stood, Sobie Builders built a 14 unit condominium with only 18 parking spaces, thatís only 1.2 spaces per unit. In another instance, a plan to build 132 condo units with only 145 parking spaces right across from the Copernicus Center (old Gateway Theater) was fully endorsed by the Aldermanís office.



The next meeting, and possibly the last chance for neighborhood residentís to tell Alderman Levar how they feel concerning these two projects will be

March 10, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. at the Irish American Heritage Center (formerly Mayfair College) at 4626 N. Knox.

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