Friday, April 27, 2012

Problem Buildings Update

920 Cullom
Ald. Cappleman's latest newsletter gives updates on some 46th Ward problem buildings and what's going on them. It's really good to see some action being taken; fingers crossed that most or all disappear from the list within the year.
  • 920 W Cullom: This long-vacant building is currently in housing court and a potential buyer has been identified. The interested party had an attorney present at the last court hearing and a sale could be completed by the next court hearing, which is June 14th. Plans for the building would be to return it to a six- or seven- unit rental.
  • 4639 N Broadway: This mixed-use building was already in housing court for code violations and criminal conduct when it became the site of a high-profile standoff with police last December. More recently, the lending bank obtained full ownership rights to the property through foreclosure. The tenant involved in the standoff was evicted and Cedar Realty, acting as property manager and broker, is marketing the property for sale. Interested parties should contact Cedar Realty at 312-929-1840. The building will next be in housing court on August 2nd for case management and update on the sale of the property. 
  • 1001 N Leland: This troubled mixed-use property, previously owned by Sam Alexander, was recently foreclosed on by United Central Bank. The bank is currently cleaning up the property, while securing and maintaining the vacant spaces, with plans to market the building for sale in the near future.
  • 3927 N Clarendon: The owners of this building recently obtained a permit to convert the property from an SRO building into a 6-unit rental. Approval for this project was obtained by the former Alderman, but work is just beginning now. Improvements to the adjacent properties may come in the future.  [UU Note:  This is the long-empty vintage greystone on Clarendon just south of Irving Park, where Broadway and Clarendon diverge.]
  • Lawrence House and 4526 N Sheridan: Both properties are named in a federal foreclosure lawsuit that was filed at the end of January. The foreclosure case will be in federal court later this month for a hearing on the appointment of a receiver. The Lawrence House was also recently in Housing Court where the owners stated that an offer had been made on both buildings and a sale was possible. The next hearing for Lawrence House will be June 7th for case management and an update on the foreclosure and potential sale. 4526 N Sheridan will again be in housing court on July 26th.
More information can be found here on Alderman Cappleman's website.  If you would like to participate in being a court advocate for one or more of these cases (downtown at the Daley Center), please contact the alderman's office.


  1. Too bad for such a beautiful building:
    1001 N Leland, "bank is currently cleaning up the property, while securing and maintaining the vacant spaces, with plans to market the building for sale."
    I highly doubt anything in those words. Why would a bank clean up the property with no plans to sell? What would a bank have to do with clean up anyways? Oh well, at least there appears to be positive movement for some of the other neighborhood properties in that post.

  2. Nice update, sounds like progress across the board. Would love to hear the LH details and wonder if it's possible to get the zoning changed to prevent reopening with a similar purpose...similar to what was done with somerset.

  3. Alexander, I don't get what you're saying.

    The bank is the owner now. They foreclosed on the slumlord Sam Alexander (no connection to you, I take it!)

    The way the Alexander Family left the building was disgusting. The new owner, the bank, needs to clean it up and bring it up to code so it can be sold. Just one example of the way the former owners treated it -- for an entire year, including the winter of 2010-2011, the owners (the Alexanders) left windows wide open on the second floor. You and I can only imagine what that did to the interior after a blizzard, 54 inches of snow and torrential rains.

    As I understand the blurb from the alderman's office, the owner (the bank) will market the building for sale after it is rehabbed. I don't see anything that implies that the bank has no plans to sell it, as you say. Where do you get that information?

    That building was in housing court for more than five years. The bank foreclosing on it is probably the best thing that could have happened. I went to court as a court advocate several times and watched members of the Alexander Family and their various attorneys boldly lie about the "improvements" they had made. When I passed the building on my way home from court, I could see that absolutely none of it had been done.

    Just a few examples:

    - the pool hall that used to be in one of the downstairs retail spaces had a huge tarp hanging from the ceiling because the pipes leaked so badly that water streamed down onto the pool tables.

    - When the building was closed by the city, the Alexanders left the front doors wide open and the apartments became "party rooms" for the gangs.

    - When the only tenant left was the Thai restaurant, the owners stopped paying the water bill, so the restaurant's owner had to pay the entire building's outstanding bill to get water for her restaurant turned on.

    - The most egregious thing was when the Alexanders had new windows installed, but used cheap labor who glued them into place. The first windy day, giant sheets of glass came crashing down onto the sidewalk on Sheridan. It's a miracle no one was hurt or killed. The police treated it as a crime scene.

    I am so happy to know that the Alexander family has nothing more to do with that building. I hope the bank is able to find a good custodian and owner for the building, which is, as you say, beautiful.

  4. Good to see this problem building update. Buildings are what make up neighborhoods at its core. Making the bad buildings good help everyone.

  5. TrumanSquareNabr, I certainly understand that the renovations on behalf of the prior owner were either not performed, or those which were done were inadequate (and/or not up to code). I also agree that getting the prior owners out of there was essential towards any progress. What I'm doubting is the bank, investing their money, into an already sunken cost, only to take another risk insofar as a sale or rental out to a retail tenant which would provide tremendous risk (ie the odds for the neighborhood do not cast much hope on that being a positive/easy venture)....would be a top or even near future priority for them. Or even in the next 10+ years.

    I hope I'm wrong and I do appreciate the involvement people such as yourself have had with rectifying ugly standing situations such as this, through the courts, local support, etc.

  6. Alexander said
    "What I'm doubting is the bank, ...... another risk insofar as a sale or rental out to a retail tenant which would provide tremendous risk (ie the odds for the neighborhood do not cast much hope on that being a positive/easy venture)....would be a top or even near future priority for them. Or even in the next 10+ years."

    I think this opinion is extremely misinformed. Uptown is a hot neighborhood and is really improving. Its finally got a decent alderman. That 1001 Leland building is extremely Key. There is pent up demand for decent retail in that area. Have you been to big chicks/tweet for breakfast? Its jammed packed! That building is near the lake and inbetween two el stops and not far from argyle's stop either.

    Its buildings like 1001 Leland that are holding Uptown back and if managed correctly buildings like 1001 Leland will help Uptown overcome its past problems. Getting positive cool businesses in that building will draw positive foot traffic and even draw people there from outside the neighborhood.

    BTW That cullom buiding is cool looking, nice fire escapes.

  7. Alexander, banks want as much return as they can get ... Sometimes they decide that involves further investment in a property, especially if otherwise the property would come with a lawsuit from the city for the buyer. This is not uncommon.