|Rendering of Theater Lofts
promised for the Chase Bank
parking lot on Winthrop
Jimmy Gouskos, the owner of the building where the Kinetic Playground is located, was sentenced last week to 18 years in jail for fraud -- three years more than the prosecution asked for. This is despite a letter of support from former 46th alderman Helen Shiller.
Many Uptowners first got to know Jimmy when he presented his plans to the community for two empty lots at on Winthrop and Lawrence in 2007. One, just south of Lawrence (the Chase Bank parking lot), was to be a condo tower called "Theater District Lofts." The other lot (the Aragon parking lot) was slated to become a building housing a 500-car parking structure, a multiplex to replace the movie theaters that somehow never materialized in Wilson Yard, and lots and lots of retail space.
Neither of those projects ever got built, and according to the convictions against Mr. Gouskos and his business partner, they became a black hole that ate up over $500,000 in earnest money deposits that people had placed to reserve homes in the Theater Lofts building. There was also a defaulted loan with Broadway Bank (the closing of which pretty much sank the career of Alexi Giannoulias). The Sun-Times also makes references to connections to the Mob, and deposit money going to internet poker and a drug habit rather than back to the people who had trusted Mr. Gouskos and his associates to build them new homes.
It's all a terribly sad story, with no winners. Everyone lost something, and our hearts go out to the regular citizens who lost thousands of their hard-earned dollars and have no way of getting recompensated. Perhaps they can take some comfort in knowing that Mr. Gouskos lost his own home to creditors -- located just south of the lot where the Theater Lofts were going to stand.
UU has been following this story since 2007. To see more articles about it, click here. The Sun-Times story is here.