Friday, February 22, 2008

Dover Street Historical District, With Schulter's Help

From Today's Chicago Sun-Times:

"There are some who aren't happy about the new label, a designation that prevents tearing down any buildings on the street that are historically or architecturally significant. It also prevents development that is out of character with the history of the existing buildings and precludes alterations of the historic facades of the homes.

And those who aren't happy would be?

"Developers," according to Dover Street resident and owner of a Dover Street two-flat John Holden, who took the lead in getting his neighbors interested in applying for the city designation.

Dover Street is represented in the city council by two aldermen: Gene Schulter on the west and Helen Schiller on the east. Schulter was more supportive of the idea of landmark designation.

"If Alderman Schulter hadn't enthusiastically supported the district, the application would have languished," Holden says. "He emphatically stressed to the Landmarks Commission that his ward did not have a single landmark district and that it was overdue."

Developers in recent years had been tearing down all kinds of houses in Sheridan Park with Schiller's blessing -- and Holden and his neighbors were frightened after they lost a number of structures, including a Queen Anne on Beacon Street, which was the oldest building in Sheridan Park. It was torn down to make way for an eight-unit condominium building."

Read the rest of the story here.


  1. Press wise, this has simply been a bad week for Ms. Helen.

  2. Kudos to those neighbors who worked hard to make this happen.

  3. Golly the Sun-Times couldn't even get "Shiller's" name right. Ouch.

  4. Just for reference, here is a related Tribune article from November 3, 2006 (page 9) written by John Briggs.

    "Swayed by an appeal from Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday postponed a vote on a proposed landmark district in the Uptown neighborhood until January.

    The delay angered proponents who said the community is "under siege" by developers.

    "This is a blatant example of what's wrong with aldermanic privilege," said Jonathan Fine, president of the Preservation Chicago advocacy group.

    For about a year, residents in the Uptown community of Sheridan Park have advocated landmarking a proposed Dover Street District, a handsome collection of single-family houses, flats and apartment buildings that date to 1893 and exemplify a distinctly suburban character in an urban setting.

    The district, part of which is in Shiller's ward, would protect about 90 buildings constructed between 1893 and 1927 in an area roughly from the 4500 to 4700 blocks of North Dover Street, as well as the 1400 blocks of West Lawrence and West Leland Avenues. It also includes properties in the 4700 block of North Beacon Street and the 1300 and 1400 blocks of West Sunnyside and West Wilson Avenues.

    But in what proponents described as an 11th-hour move, Shiller asked the commission to delay its vote on preliminary landmarking until Jan. 4 to allow homeowners at 4619 and 4625 N. Dover St. time to build additions to their properties.

    Shiller said she had talked with the owners as the landmarking effort moved forward but did not realize until Oct. 27 that if the commission granted preliminary landmark status, it would complicate the building process. Both owners are seeking to expand top-floor apartments, she said, which requires a temporary change in zoning to allow for more development.

    "I had never considered that these two things had any conflict with each other," Shiller said.

    She added that the proposed district would not be affected by the additions to the two properties on Dover Street.

    But resident Michael Barnicle said, "It's disappointing. It's being held up for what seems to be the very thing we're trying to protect against."

    The commission voted 4 to 1 in favor of the postponement, with three commissioners abstaining. Commissioner Phyllis Ellin, who cast the dissenting vote, said she was troubled by the timing of Shiller's request and concerned about the precedent it would set."

  5. Was this really an example of Shiller being a helpful advocate for these two residences or was there something else going on here? I really don't understand the woman although I do try.

  6. Yes, Helen was simply being a helpful advocate. I know both of the residents. Neither has any clout generally, nor any pull with Helen. One campaigned for her opponent. Helen helped them because they were each thoughtful residents, who had undertaken considerable effort and expense to make reasonable and modest additions to their homes. They were very public and forthright about their plans, attempted to get input, and then faced a street meeting transparently packed with hostile opponents (It was quite a close vote, with numerous recounts). It was rather depressing and embarassing to witness. If their additions were exactly what the designation was trying to protect against, it's a poor reflection on the designation or the vision of some of its proponents. Faced the ongoing delay and clear cost of making the modest addition to allow their family to grow there, one of the fmailies chose to move on. It was loss for the street.