Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Twilight Zone

Update: From the comments:
"According the the Department of Zoning, this application was withdrawn. The applicant told Zoning that they needed to make changes to the application.
They told Zoning that they expect to refile at the next Zoning meeting October 8th."

Code 17-13-0107-C Posted Notice.
When the provisions of this Zoning Ordinance require that “Posted Notice” be provided, the applicant must post a notice sign on the subject property in accordance with the following requirements:

1. The notice sign must be installed within 5 days of application filing and remain in place until the date of the hearing. ...
3. The sign must be posted in such a way as to be plainly visible from each roadway or right-of-way abutting the property.

We took a stroll by the McJunkin Building Wednesday to take a look at the required-by-city-code Zoning Notice about the shrouded-in-mystery "commercial housing" that Brendan Shiller, Attorney Of Choice For The 46th Ward, mentioned in his letter to residents.

The McJunkin is a huge building, so we may have missed seeing it, but we really looked and came up empty. Check out the photos above, taken Wednesday. We just know it's got to be there someplace! And "plainly visible from each roadway abutting the property."

Or is it possible Brendan's just claiming to be "lazy" and ignorant about this requirement, as well as saying he doesn't know the entity he represents or what they want to do with the property? Why are the details of this allegedly "beneficial retail plan" so difficult for residents to ascertain?

Hugh adds in the comments: "We should expect posted notice on or about tomorrow, Tuesday 9/9/08 (five business days minus the Monday 9/1 holiday). This is the applicant's responsibility. Please keep an eye out for the sign."

The longer the details remain hidden from the community, the fishier this zoning request appears to be.


  1. My mind is playing tricks on me. I swear there must be a notice about a request for a zoning change. Afterall, Helen's office is located in this very same building so even she would remind the attorney who shares her last name of this requirement.

  2. ever think about going in and asking one of those businesses. I'm sure they would know what is going on with that property.

  3. What is a B3 zoned property?

    17-3-0104 B3, Community Shopping District.

    17-3-0104-A The primary purpose of the B3, Community Shopping district is to accommodate a very broad range of retail and service uses, often in the physical form of shopping centers or larger buildings than found in the B1 and B2 districts. In addition to accommodating development with a different physical form than found in B1 and B2 districts, the B3 district is also intended to accommodate some types of uses that are not allowed in B1 and B2 districts.

    17-3-0104-B Development in B3 districts will generally be destination-oriented, with a large percentage of customers arriving by automobile. Therefore, the supply of off-street parking will tend to be higher in B3 districts than in B1 and B2 districts.

    17-3-0104-C The B3 district permits residential dwelling units above the ground floor.

    17-3-0104-D The B3 district is intended to be applied to large sites that have primary access to major streets. It may also be used along streets to accommodate retail and service use types that are not allowed in B1 and B2 districts.

    17-3-0104-E The B3 district can be combined with the dash 1, dash 1.5, dash 2, dash 3 or dash 5 bulk and density designations.

    Where oh where is there parking for all these automobiles that will arrive at this new B3 zoned property? All the parking that was available is now walled off for construction.

    This is a zoning change being made by someone that knows more than most people about changes in the neighborhood.

  4. But what about those "dash" regulations at the end of the B3 zoning regulations? What do they allow?

    17-3-0401 General. Bulk and density standards in the “B” and “C” districts vary according to the applicable bulk and density designation. Bulk and density designations are indicated by the numeral following the dash (–) in the district name, as in “B1-2” (B1 dash 2).

    17-3-0402 Lot Area per Unit (Density). Where allowed, all residential development in B and C districts is subject to the following minimum lot-area-per-unit standards:

    Minimum Lot Area per Unit
    (square feet)
    A) Per Dwelling Unit
    B) Per Efficiency Unit
    C) Per SRO Unit

    Dash 1
    A) 2,500
    B) 2,500
    C) Not Allowed

    Dash 1.5
    A) 1,350
    B) 1,350
    C) Not Allowed

    Dash 2
    A) 1,000
    B) 700
    C) 700

    Dash 3
    A) 400
    B) 300
    C) 200

    Dash 5
    A) 200
    B) 135
    C) 100

    With all you know about Uptown and the La Costra Shiller, does anyone here think this zoning change is for anything other than yet another SRO dwelling in the 46th Ward?

    This is a "move in the vote" operation. Your 46th Ward special interests that don't live here but mysteriously have a strong interest in retaining an alderman that is to the left of Trotsky are already implementing their strategy for the ward campaign in 2011.

  5. What is a B3 zoned property?

    more specifically, the most important thing to neighbors is often what kinds of business could go in there?


    scroll down to 17-3-0207 Use Table

    or as PDF

    rows in this table are usages

    columns are zoning

    note the columns B1 and B3

    scroll down the table looking for differences between the B1 and B3 columns

    a dash means no way, no how

    an P means permitted by rights, no hearing, no process

    an S means allowed as a special use which requires a quick visit to Uptown's pals at the Zoning Board of Appeals

  6. I would like to direct my good friends in Uptown to a website:

    Citizens for Responsible Development

    this website is by citizen Greg Brewer

    it is an example about what is possible when you make a commitment to track zoning changes and development

    Greg routinely requests & if necessary FOIA's documents and posts them as a community service

    it's a lot of work

    In particular, you will find on this website numerous examples of the application for a zoning change, which is the key document that apparently no one thinks this McJunkin issues is important enough to retrieve. It may answer our questions about what's going on here.

    Also on this website you will find numerous examples of the "economic disclosure statement" (EDS). An EDS is required to be filed by everyone with business before the City including zoning changes. It may answer our questions about who owns the McJunkin.

  7. Hugh: Thanks for the link to Greg Brewer. His work in the 50th Ward should be replicated in the 46th Ward.

  8. I'm new. Is the McJunkin building the real name? Or is it something that the UU folks made up as a nick name for the building?


  9. Hi wdl. McJunkin is the name of the building. The name "McJunkin" used to appear on the SW corner of the building at the top, but has since been covered. Architect Arthur Gerber designed this building as well as the Wilson El station - both of which were beautiful in their day - and still could be.

  10. As of 11:06AM today, there is still no sign of any zoning notice change to be found on the McJunkin Building.

    Do we have any confirmation that the application has been filed? If so, on what date was the application filed?

  11. "But what about those "dash" regulations ... "

    the number after the dash indicates density, it regulates the number of residential housing units that can be built, relative to the land size

    looking back at a boy's 1st zoning change notification letter, I see it states B-1 to B-3

    I read this to mean the proposal is to go from B1-x to B3-x, in other words a change in permitted usage but no change in density, but it could very well mean Bx-1 to Bx-3, that is, a major increase in density w/o a change in allowable uses

    or both

    who knows? it's ambiguous. Like "commercial housing" it could be a rookie blunder or deliberate obscurity

  12. "Do we have any confirmation that the application has been filed?"

    the filing is with the Zoning Dept.

    their # is on the City website

    if you call, here's a tip - do it before 2:30 - 3

  13. Again Hugh, good tip. Best to call the city before "closing time".

  14. Connect all the dots.

    This zoning change.

    Bomberg cleaning up the Wilson Mens Hotel.

    Salvation Army closing.

    The list of Low Income Tax Credit housing funds expiring.

    Speculation about Target not being too thrilled with Helen and the city trying to pull a fast one on them with the "mix of incomes" vs. "mixed income" slight of hand.

    For all you Target people reading this who aren't up to speed, Helen and the city have been feeding you quite load of bull crap on the type of housing that will be attached to your store - it's 100% low income and section 8 housing. Go to www.FixWilsonYard.orgfor the details.

    While we're talking about Fix Wilson Yard, that group also fits into the bigger picture. The FWY people are suing the city, thanks to that new ruling from downstate that says individuals can sue over TIF matters.

    So if Helen's big Robin Hood Adventure of making profit from Target to fund the low income housing is in jeopardy, she has to have a Plan B to fall back on. Recall that the WY TIF is pretty much tapped out already. So without the $20,000,000 contribution from Target, she finds herself in quite a pickle.

    Add in the fact that Helen has point blank told people in the past that she's a one trick pony, with that trick being more and more high density warehousing of the poor.
    Everything else is a low priority.

    Finally, consider that everyone with real information on this matter has completely clammed up, and prying the truth out has been met with every possible hurdle you can imagine.

    Finally, what happened to the Maggie Marystone led 46th Ward Zoning Committee? Maybe they have the answers. Perhaps they are on hiatus until, say, September or October of 2010, just a few months prior to the 2011 election.

    This is better than a soap opera.

    I like to call it "Guiding Blight".

  15. According to the Dept of Zoning, this building is currently Zone B1-5. That means currently:
    17-3-0102-B B1 zoning is intended to be applied in compact nodes at the intersection of two or more major streets or in a cohesive linear fashion along relatively narrow streets that have low traffic speeds and volumes (compared to multi-lane, major streets).

    17-3-0102-C The B1 district is intended to exhibit the physical characteristics of storefront-style shopping streets that are oriented to pedestrians.

    17-3-0102-D The B1 district permits residential dwelling units above the ground floor.

    With -5 meaning the lot area needs 100 sq ft per SRO unit. So under the current zoning, SRO's are admitted and have the smallest sqft allowed.

    Trust me, I want this to be completely transparent, but the changes that some people are worried about are not changes at all. We already have dwellings allowed to be in the McJunkin building and they are allowed to be the smallest size possible.

    I want to know exactly why this zoning change has been brought up and agree with a lot of the opinions on the site, but make sure we all have our facts straight.

  16. One change between B1 and B3 is the fact that B1 is pedestrian based businesses where B3 says it is mostly car based businesses and should have extra parking. We should have pedestrian based businesses, not car based. So the zoning change is bad so far in my eyes for that reason.

  17. A hotel, a.k.a. a Transient hotel or a clinic a.k.a a methodone clinic...would both be considered car based businesses under a B-3. Just because people do not drive to those specific types of businesses does not mean they do not have to have the appropriate zoning... just some food for thought

  18. "According to the Dept of Zoning, this building is currently Zone B1-5."

    confirming, the current zoning is B1-5

    this suggests the proposed change is B1-5 to B3-5, it is a proposed change in allowed uses but not in density

    B3-X is our most permissive B zoning

    Bx-5 is our most dense B zoning

  19. 4564 N Broadway
    PIN: 14-17-217-024
    from the Assessor
    31,882 sq. ft. of land
    that's 318 rooms of SRO housing, but I don't think that's what's going on here because it's already possible under the current zoning

  20. I wonder if the Salvation Army is moving into this space.

  21. You guys love to freak out over nothing. I love to sit back and laugh. I work at agency that has an office here in the McJunkin Building (Which by the way, to help your future sluething has been officially renamed 4554 N. Broadway). They're rezoning so that Inspiration, a pretty awesome social service agency, can expand to fill in the rest of the offices here. Calm down. Yeesh.

  22. megan, this is the kind of freaking out you get when your alderman treats you like an enemy rather than a constituent.

  23. That's true. I'm not really sure why everyone's being so secretive. I asked my boss and he's like yeah, nothing complicated or anything. It's not like a big hush hush thing here in the building.

  24. It would be nice to hear about the plans for this building from the alderman, a tenant, or the rezoning attorney, another tenant, rather than on a blog.

    So call us paranoid, but that's what happens when no one will tell the "simple truth."

    I'm still furious that Brendan thinks we're all so stupid to believe his "duh, I'm lazy and I didn't sign the letter and I don't know what 'commercial housing' means and I don't know what goes out under my signature and I don't know who the client is and I don't know what they're planning to do with the building and my dog ate the zoning notice" act.

    Arrogant little pet attorney.

  25. 1. How does Inspiration expanding jibe with the "commercial housing" verbage? It doesn't.

    2. The "stop freaking out" and "I want to wait to have all the facts" ways of thinking is music to Helen's ears. By not being aggressive and demanding answers, they run out the clock. Then, it's too late, and a done deal.

    Learn from the past as to not let history repeat itself.

  26. Though the City Clerk's website typically doesn't publish the Zoning Committee agenda typically until a few days prior to the meeting, public notices are put in the Sun-Times classifieds typically two-three weeks prior to the meeting. Those notices were published a few days ago (Monday or Tuesday). The two locations that are nearby, but not this building (I don't think) are:

    "a line 50 feet north of and parallel to West Lawrence Ave; a line 100 feet east of and parallel to North Broadway; West Lawrence Ave; North Broadway Ave"

    That one is an application to go from B3-5 to C1-5

    The other is "West Winona Street; the west boundary line of the CTA right-of-way line; the south line of the public alley extended that is next north of and parallel to West Argyle Street; North Broadway Street" -- from C2-3 to B1-2

    Both of these sites appear to be in the 48th Ward

  27. Might this be the 'McJerkin' building, as in the Shiller duo is jerkin' us around?

  28. According the the Department of Zoning, this application was withdrawn. The applicant told Zoning that they needed to make changes to the application.

    They told Zoning that they expect to refile at the next Zoning meeting October 8th.

  29. "this application was withdrawn"

    thanks for calling

    kicked out is probably more like it

    a 5th grader could be a zoning lobbyist in their mommy's ward in Chicago

    of all the branches of law, why zoning atty? it's curious

    it will be interesting to see if when they resubmit if they re-notify

  30. "They're rezoning so that Inspiration ... can expand to fill in the rest of the offices here."

    if so why didn't the app say that?

    doesn't pass the smell test, Inspiration is already there, so presumably it is permitted under current zoning

    unless either:

    1. Inspiration is "expanding" into a new unspecified line of business

    2. the whole lot is 31K ft2, and under the current zoning one business can take up to 25K ft2 of floor area, so are some or all of Inspiration's neighbors leaving so Inspiration can take over most or all of the ground floor?

    did Target target the bong shop? just wondering

  31. we have been told Target is "in discussion" with Holsten

    I wonder if "you mean you want us to move in next to a bong shop?" might have come up

  32. Hugh: Have you been able to identify if Vincent-Vince-Vincenzo D'Agostino actually lives at 4170 N. Marine Drive?

    I know a very well connected person that does live in this building.

    Email me. curlyssoul - at -

  33. may I be permitted to suggest an action item with regard to this zoning change?

    FOIA sonny-boy's disclosures if any w the Chicago Board of Ethics

    City law requires lobbyists which includes so-called "zoning attorneys" to register and declare their clients

    in my experience the Board of Ethics
    folks are not friendlies, they are not on the side of citizens or taxpayers, and requests for public documents are not honored without a formal FOIA

    contact info is on the City website under depts.

  34. you mean, did I ring his doorbell? no

  35. why seek the lobbyist disclosure?

    1. confirm registration

    2. confirm client name, compare w/ notice letter