Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zoning Change Requested At 4627 Beacon

A reader writes in:
I just got one of those zoning change notices in the mail since I live within 250 feet of the zoning change. I don't have a scanner but here is what the notice says:

"The undersigned will file an application for a change in zoning from RS3 to RT4 on behalf of 4627 North Beacon LLC for the property located at 4627 N Beacon. The applicant seeks to build an eight (8) residential unit building with eight (8) parking spaces. The owner of the property is 4627 North Beacon LLC whose business address is 4730 N Dover; Chicago, IL 60640. You can reach Christopher Byrne at 773-908-5546 if you have any questions."


  1. Should I stay or should I go?A house at 4627 N. Beacon St. was the oldest house in the Sheridan Park National Historic District until it was demolished a few weeks ago. In September Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) was caught between the owner's desire to change the zoning of the property to permit an eight-unit development and the community's desire to retain the charming landmark. Shiller did not change the zoning but the owner tore down the structure anyway; a single family mansion is likely to be erected there.

  2. Meeting about Sheridan Park house expected to air strong feelings4627 N. Beacon St. was bought by a developer who erroneously thought it was zoned R-4, which would permit him to erect an 8-story condo building. Now that he has discovered his error, which was due to an inaccurate map, he is asking Ald. Schiller to change the property's zoning to enable him to carry out his plans.

  3. The Voice: the Quarterly Journal of Preservation Chicago

    THE BATTLE OF DOVER STREET: A VICTORY HARD WON... it was the demolition in 2005 of the oldest home in the District – a beautiful, orange-rated Queen Anne-style house on adjacent Beacon Street – that convinced concerned Dover
    residents that a city landmark district was the only way to stop the out-of-control demolition.

  4. Byrne, Christopher
    4407 N Beacon
    Chicago, IL 60640

    $500.00 2/14/2007 to Citizens for Shiller

    Byrne, Christopher
    4730 N Dover
    Chicago, IL 60640
    Occupation: Developer
    Employer: Self

    $1,000.00 11/30/2006 to Citizens for Shiller

    Illinois State Board of Elections

  5. turns out Shiller didn't say "no" to Byrne, she said "wait til after the election"

  6. The owner tore down the oldest home in Sheridan Park among many protests from the community. He then wanted to put up a condo building. He took the risk hoping that Helen's non-existent zoning commitee would set the stage to allow him to do what he wanted in the first place. I'm not buying the attempt to blame it all on an inaccurate map.

    We're also hearing Chicago House wants yet another expansion on this lot.

    I'm wondering if Helen is in some contest to see how awful at community planning she could be? Let's give her a trophy now so that we can dispense with this crazy nonsence.

  7. Good find, Hugh. This sounds like another attempt by the same owner, since I believe the developer lives at the address mentioned on Dover.

  8. How ironic that the day this is uncovered coincides on the same day as Heather Steams' ethics discussion at Loyola. This is yet again pay-to-play politics in the 46th Ward. Good zoning be damned. Her interest is campaign contributions.

  9. While I agree that there are (were) some beautiful historic homes in Uptown- there does come a point where saving them is just not a cost effective option.
    Now before you all scream at me and send nasty comments answer me this- do you want the building to become a "landmark" so that it can just set and fall apart?
    This was a nice building- but it had become unsafe.

  10. I want a community process that abides by some agreed upon principles before rezoning occurs. I want transparency in the process. I DO NOT want pay to play politics influencing community planning.

    I don't expect all to agree, but I believe involvement of the community is paramount to a strong, inclusive, and diverse community.

  11. Give me $100 and I'll make sure all that changes. =]

  12. I would welcome it's development. However, the alderman feels she should help Chris out because she feels bad he didn't do his due diligence. Developers take risks and on this one he got burned. I don't understand why he should be made whole. Also, why not upzone to R3.5 and let him build a 6 unit building that is in keeping with the rest of the block? We have contacted Shiller's office requesting a meeting to discuss his request for the zoning change. I recommend others do the same, her number is 773-868-4646.
    Also, anyone else find it funny that the letter indicates he'll file his request on our about April 15th and that his letter is dated April 15th and arrives on the 16th. Any chance this was done to get it pushed through without the monumental dissent there was last time?

  13. Nash said:

    the building had become unsafe...

    I was in the house when it was put up for wasn't unsafe at all, not visually and nothing structurally.

    It didn't sell because all they did was put a stainless steel refrigerator in the kitchen to make it look modern.

    The house needed a lot of work for updating purposes, it was not in "unsafe" just was OLD looking on the inside.

    They shouldn't not have torn down a historic single family home...that's over 100 years old...that's what gives a neighborhood character....those homes are invaluable...

  14. "This was a nice building- but it had become unsafe."

    It became unsafe because demolition had been done without a demolition permit, in violation of the law.

    "there does come a point where saving them is just not a cost effective option."

    Do you mean that a developer can't make the normal huge profit by tearing down an historic property and throwing up a cheaply built, poorly designed, McCondo building?

    Alderman Shiller said in the community meeting that she would not allow a zoning change for this property. This would mean that the developer, Chris Byrne, would have to restore the single family home or replace it with a new single family home, which was clearly explained by Ald. Shiller to everyone at that meeting, including Chris Byrne.

    Instead, Chris Byrne chose to tear down the house anyway and hope that Ald. Shiller would go back on her word.

    I wonder if a Chris Byrne campaign donation to Alderman Shiller has anything to do with this most recent attempt to change the zoning.

    Ald. Shiller and/or Chris Byrne better hope this isn't an FBI sting. That would really be awkward.

  15. "Developers take risks ... "

    ok, but

    " ... and on this one he got burned."

    one of the risks developers embrace is not typically their own gross incompetence

  16. "I would welcome it's development."

    of course after 5 years the developer has "how do you like the vacant lot?" on their side

  17. Apparently there wasn't a huge demand for the home. I don't have a problem with demolishing the building if no one was willing to purchase and preserve it. Would you rather have the home sit there unoccupied, become dilapidated and unsafe?

  18. Well, the least he could have done is offer to sell the house for a dollar if someone was willing to move it. Yes, moving it would have been an expensive endeavor but a better alternative to destruction.

  19. I'd presume the developer/speculater paid a significant premium given his intention to expand. The lot house/lot became too expensive to realistically sell as a single-family.

  20. Look, we're all ignoring the obvious here. Tell me how he can possibly expect to get funding for and develop and sell an 8 unit condo building in this economic environment in this neighborhood. Isn't it more likely he's asked for the upzoning now so he can sell it to Chicago House so they can further expand? He get's the zoning for them and also recoups or even makes money on his initial investment without having to take anymore risk. Call the alderman and ask for a meeting.

  21. The developer trusted Helen would go back on her word after he gave her $1500 in campaign contributions. Well, not much of a risk there! You can't tell me that a developer from this neighborhood would give Helen a dime without expecting a return on his investment.

    Any realtor would tell you if a home doesn't sell, lower the price. The developer got greedy and wanted more. I will not accept any argument that the developer bought the property without knowing the real zoning. He saw a loophole and took it. Sweetening the request with $1500 sealed the deal.

    Shame on you, Helen.

  22. The same developer tried to get the same upzoning on Dover St and it was thrown out. I sincerely doubt he ever had any intention of trying to sell this as a single-family residence. And misreading a map? Who do you expect to believe that, if you're that dumb you deserve to lose your money on this one.

  23. This only proves my point. Helen does not really care about our best intereests at heart. She only cares to have her pockets filled. You do have the power to do someting specially when it`s time to vote. We need a new alderman that will make our uptown clean, healthy and safe like it once was years ago.

  24. As far as tearing down a historic's a shame. However, no one who could afford to buy it, restore it, and take care of it - even pay the heating bills - is going to move to Uptown. How many times in the past year has the one on the corner of Wilson and Malden been up for sale?

    Byrne came around last fall - maybe last spring - seeking signatures on a petition to rezone this property. If he received enough, could/would his request be denied?

  25. Jane, I'm always suspicious of first time posters who have no profile, but to take your quote at face value:

    "However, no one who could afford to buy it, restore it, and take care of it - even pay the heating bills - is going to move to Uptown."

    You obviously don't know your neighbors Jane. There are people who live in Uptown who have spent a sizeable amount, (some would call it a small fortune) just so they could live in a nice single family home AND live in a diverse neighborhood.

    Many have bought those large single family homes because they are much more affordable in Uptown than most other areas of the city.

    Are others out there who would do the same?

    The odds say that if some did, others would too. Maybe you wouldn't Jane, but good news: You don't have to.

  26. Zesty, I'm not a first time poster.

    I think it's great that you - and others in the neighborhood - have been willing and able to make that kind of investment.

    However, we should be able to agree that the house sat there a long time, was in horrible shape, and if it hadn't been bought before it was demolished, it certainly wouldn't be in our present economy.

    Abandoned structures are a huge safety issue and have other negative impacts on a neighborhood, regardless of their historical value.

  27. "Byrne came around last fall - maybe last spring - seeking signatures on a petition to rezone this property. If he received enough, could/would his request be denied?"if you are asking if a petition process has any kind of formal or legal role in a rezoning - no it does not, but a petition for or against could certainly be introduced into evidence at a public hearing or otherwise cc'ed to aldermen

  28. Jane, perhaps we can also agree that there's more to this than an unsafe house left on the market.

    It sat there for a long time because after it was stripped of its interior, it was overpriced (Realty 101). The developer is crying victim for actions he did purposely in order to get the excuse to tear it down and have it rezoned.

    He then slips Helen $1500 and, I'll go out on a lark here, hoped the contribution would get Helen to salivate. His actions were shady and unethical and his behavior should never be excused or even tolerated. But it gets worse. Helen now is rewarding him for it. If this ain't play-to-play politics, what is?

  29. Byrne came around last fall - maybe last spring - seeking signatures on a petition to rezone this property. If he received enough, could/would his request be denied?The above action would not be defined as a community process in the surrounding wards. I think the residents of the 46th Ward deserve better.

    We need a zoning committee that encourages community input and decisions about all zoning changes. Other wards do it. We also need more information so that informed decisions could be made. A petition for a zoning change scratches the surface of community input.