Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ald. Cappleman Gives Details About Lawrence House Sale & Tenant Transitions

Alderman Cappleman's statement on the Lawrence House sale:

Yesterday afternoon, FLATS Chicago finalized the purchase of Lawrence House, located at 1020 W. Lawrence. For many years, this building has been in and out of housing court for over a hundred code violations. Frequently, the previous owners wouldn't pay their utility bills and residents would come to our office to plead for help to stay warm and to cook food.

I have had discussions with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, State Sen. Heather Steans, the City's Dept. of Housing & Economic Development, and affordable housing developers to see if we could find a way to turn Lawrence House into well-run affordable housing. Due to the many years of neglect, in the end, we were unable to find a developer who could purchase this building and renovate it to create affordable units. Had FLATS Chicago not made this purchase, Lawrence House would likely have headed toward demolition court.

FLATS Chicago will be providing a hands-on approach to transitioning the current tenants to safe permanent housing. Director of Transitions, Sherri Kranz, who has over 3 decades of community experience, will be leading the team as they work with each individual tenant, family member, and social worker to carefully craft a relocation plan. Their past experience with transitioning residents to other affordable apartments has been phenomenal and far exceeded what is required of new owners of apartment buildings. The residents at Lawrence House have deserved better housing for many years.

FLATS Chicago has already secured a commercial tenant, Heritage Outpost, which will offer a cafe service and bicycle share program with custom Heritage for FLATS bicycles. To read more about FLATS Chicago's plans for this historic building, click here. Leasing is set to begin in the fall of 2015.

While the sale of the Lawrence House will reduce the number of market-rate rental units within the $500 per month range, Uptown still outranks the rest of Chicago with having the highest number of government subsidized units in the City; an amount that is 15 times higher than the median average of the 77 Chicago community areas.* To learn more about the challenges and the steps I'm taking to build more affordable housing in Chicago, visit our recently revised 46th Ward Master Plan.

Please feel free to stop by during open office hours with any questions, concerns, or ideas you might have about housing. Open office hours are every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning.

* Data Availability: DHED - 2Q 2010, HUD - 4Q 2010, IHDA - 3Q 2011


  1. This worries me. FLATS has no proven track record, so why are we handing them the keys to Uptown. They seem incapable of handing/completing/starting the buildings it already has on its books and now they're taking on another massive project...?

    1. Agree. I signed up at their site for "open house" alerts and haven't been invited to one yet. I see a lot of FLATS signs... have they actually completed a building? It also worries me that housing will go sky-high. I heard today on the radio that the Lawrence House rehabs will go for $2000-$3000 a month. That's ridiculous. You may as well buy for that amount.

    2. I third that sentiment. However, when I see the throngs of loiterers near that area I think, "could it get any worse?"

      As for expensive apartments--*meh* welcome to the free market.

  2. Handed them the keys? No one handed them anything. They bought all of their properties without city assistance, so they can develop at their own pace.

    In any case, I think the permit process is bogging them down a bit.

  3. I can't say that am worried about FLATS. Anything that they would do is far and away better than what the Lawrence house has been given in the last ten years.

    Personally, I like that FLATS are focusing so much on uptown as it forces them to have a more holistic interest in the community. They moved their HQ here from the near north; a move that shouts commitment. They may be less experienced than other developers but they have an impressive portfolio so-far and seem to be have a creative approach. In my opinion, they see Uptown as what it is, the last bastion of north-side lake front neighborhood that has not come of age (so to speak). I think it is clear they aren't trying to gentrify. Gentrification would not be good for Uptown as the well-to-do are not part of the modus operandi around here.

  4. I think the guy's running FLATS are in over their heads. I know the permitting process can be a lengthy one, but I don't think that's what's happening here. If it is, then that speaks to their inexperience. Smoothly run projects aren't subject to this much stop-start. I do hope I'm wrong, although I suspect it's only a matter of time before FLATS abandoned projects litter our neighborhoods.

  5. And P.S. Don't paint this building battleship gray. Please and thank you.

  6. Name *one* project that opened when it was supposed to. Just *one*.....City's a hard place to get permits and start construction or open a business. I can name ten off the top of my head that got delayed because of permitting issues. Flats is no different. The owner's cousin redeveloped the Sheridan Plaza and the Uptown Regency, so it's not like he's going into it blind. Some people just can't be happy, I guess. How much money did you invest in Flats? Let the guys who have skin in the game worry about their properties. Unless you prefer the way the Mennetties ran Lawrence House???????

  7. Uptown may have the highest number of govt assisted living units, but isn't that because we have so many elderly housing buildings in this area? I don't think its mostly family at all.

  8. This is great news.

    Now, if we can only find a good buyer and developer for another Menetti-owned cesspool, the Astor at 1246 W Pratt.

  9. "Uptown still outranks the rest of Chicago with having the highest number of government subsidized units in the City; an amount that is 15 times higher than the median average of the 77 Chicago community areas."

    Gee, Paul. 15 times higher than what's found in other community areas. That does seem like a lot. I'm wondering if you're thinking 20 times higher is okay as long as it's family housing? And here I was thinking 5 or 6 times higher was quite a lot.

  10. I work in the Architectural/Construction industry (on the professional side) and I agree with Boohoo. Schedules are rarely kept and while it is often the permitting process that cause delays, there are a seemingly infinite type of events that can throw off even the most conservative of schedules. Addition to that, there is the endless ambition of most developers which (apparently) must be necessary for the job. We have been experiencing quite a shift in the A/E industry since 2008. Everything is now expected to be done faster and cheaper but the economies to accomplish this are not any more apparent than they were pre-Great-Recession bubble.

    Moral is: don't get too caught up in your perceptions. They may be everyone's reality but often, reality is far from perception.


  11. I don't know whether the Menettis appreciate what the Government has done for them, but I'm sure they're laughing all the way to the bank. The least they could do is publish a thank you letter. The Menettis and the Chicago politicians have proven to possess far greater cunning than most UU commenters.


  12. I have a challenge for UU readers. The Menettis bought LH in 2000. The received wisdom is that they have a long track record of mismanagement of LH. I challenge the UU readers to find any "news," which was published prior to 2010, which reveals the Menettis in a negative light. It might be possible to find such "news" somewhere, but it'll be hard. They apparently had one decade with a clean track record. Suddenly, in 2010, the claim became that they have had a long history of such mismanagement. Please!

  13. Joey, you're obsessed with the Menettis. Here's a clue for you. Most of us don't give a damn if they made money, if they wanted LH to close, if they go on to win gold medals in Sochi. Here's what most neighbors of Lawrence House feel: They ran the place into the ground. We don't like what they've done to our community. We want them out of Uptown. Where they go and what they own and the state of their bank account is immaterial. We just want them gone. When they lose or sell 4526 Sheridan, we will have our wish, because their application for a liquor license has been removed from the property they hoped to open at Irving Park and Broadway.

    Want to hear something "official" that portrays them in a negative light?

    - How about decisions reached at a hearing in 2008 finding that the Green Dolphin Club, owned and managed by the Menettis, exceeded the legal limit of patrons (they seem to have problems with the Fire Department, based on the many fires at Lawrence House) and that a bouncer stomped on a female patron's arm and broke it. Not really a clean track record and stellar management, right?

    - How about the Green Dolphin Club having its liquor license revoked in 2012, based on Liquor Commission violations going back to 2004? Not great management and a pretty harsh penalty.

    - Specific to Lawrence House: "The building has had 137 violations logged against it, a few dating back to 1989. As of Thursday, 39 of those violations were still open, according to documents provided by the Chicago Department of Buildings." (Medill Reports.)

    You are obviously an intelligent person, but you're rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic here with your quixotic quest to defend the Menettis. Who cares, really? They're no longer involved. They're back in Park Ridge. Whatever they did in Uptown is in the past, and who cares what they do in the future, as long as it's far far away.

  14. Actually, Caring Neighbor, given the context of my comment, I intended, specifically, negative "news" about the Menettis with regard to LH. Use of any other such negative "news" would constitute reasoning along the lines of "poisoning the well." The Medill report was, predictably, dated May 27, 2010.

    My concern extends far beyond LH, the Menettis, Uptown, or even Chicago. According to a very small part of my world view, each of us is severely limited in his or her ability to learn based on first hand experience. People seem to habitually employ anything that calls itself "news," which they have in the past learned to trust, as a surrogate for personal experience. When forming their opinions, people seem to habitually conflate reports by complete strangers, "news" presented on boob tubes or over the Internet, and reports by people they perceive as members of their own political groups with information they acquire through first hand experience.

    To enhance my ability to reliably form opinions, I must supplement my first hand experience with reading, listening, and plenty of reason. As Hume might express it, I take into consideration the testimony of other people. But I must also take into consideration the extent to which any such testimony is reliable. When a person takes great umbrage to an opinion or argument, which the person believes leads to a conclusion with which the person disagrees (e.g., the false conclusion that I have ever tried to "defend the Menettis"), I tend to discount that person's testimony because it is likely that, when that person encounters evidence that is inconsistent with that person's current conclusion, that person is inclined to reject that evidence. My experience as a resident of LH, and the responses to my attempts to relay my personal experiences and my thoughts, I simply chalk up as one of the experiences I use to formulate my view of the world and, indeed, of humanity.

    I submitted a FOIA request to the Chicago Fire Department for information dating from 2007 to the present. The response, which was about 60 pages long, contradicted many of the "news" reports. The CPD and OEM simply balked. At least I tried to obtain objective information from reliable sources.

    I think that accusing innocent people of wrongdoing by painting them with a broad brush, thereby avoiding the possibility that such accusations might be falsified, is reprehensible. But there is no amount of reason that can stop people from heading wherever their collective desires take them.

    I tend to agree with John Nash who attributed his recovery to the realization that politics is a waste of intellectual effort. I would be happier to stick with mathematical subjects, where reason is an asset rather than a liability.

    Thank you for the information. People are rarely so accommodating.

  15. Joey, you can talk theory all you want. But the facts, and the reality, and the actions resulting from that reality are (1) the Menettis did not take care of building violations first noted in 1989; (2) the building was sold; (3) current tenants will be assisted in finding new places to live; and (4) Lawrence House will become a different entity sometime in the new few years. Anything else is simply word salad.