The Zoning Committee pushed through more than 50 agenda items in about three hours Wednesday morning, dedicating only a few minutes per agenda item and hearing little public opposition. The Committee approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of Judy Frydland as the new Commissioner for the Department of Buildings, approved an ordinance to create the Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission and approved several large scale development projects. With committee approval yesterday, projects like the proposed Nobu Hotel in Fulton Market, a residential complex off the Brown Line’s Southport stop and a new development next to the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park have one final hurdle: approval from the full City Council next week.

We have highlighted some of the items discussed at yesterday’s meeting and provide a list and brief synopsis of deferred items.

Committee Members Present: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman James Cappleman (46), Joe Moreno (1), Michelle Harris (8),  David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Carrie Austin (34), Margaret Laurino (39), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44)
Also present: Anthony Beale (9), Gilbert Villegas (36), Michelle Smith (43)
Start time: 10:00am

Approved Items – Highlights

Appointment of Judy Frydland as Commissioner of Buildings
The Committee swiftly approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s request to put Judy Frydland in charge of the Department of Buildings. Fryland is currently serving as Acting Commissioner. Her appointment requires City Council approval.

Frydland made a brief statement highlighting her 25 years with the City’s Law Department where she prosecuted landlords and revoked licenses from law-breaking business owners. Frydland highlighted some of her highest profile cases, including the E2 nightclub disaster in 2003. 21 patrons were crushed to death after a security guard used pepper spray to stop a fight, prompting more than a thousand patrons to flee down a narrow staircase. Frydland said she was also part of the prosecution that took on the owner responsible for the 2003 Lincoln Park porch collapse that killed 13 people and injured dozens, and the construction firm that abandoned a crane on top of the Waterview Tower in 2010.

Following her testimony, Ald. James Cappleman (46) made sure to mention additional accomplishments, like her work on the Hotel Chateau and the Uptown Theater. Ald. Margaret Laurino (39), Ald. Matt O’Shea (19), Ald. David Moore (17), and Ald. Michelle Harris (8) added to the praise, and Ald. Walter Burnett (27)joked Frydland is “cold, but fair,” warning developers that Frydland wouldn’t hesitate to, “put down the hammer,” to enforce the city’s building codes.

Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission
Ald. Anthony Beale (9), who represents the Pullman neighborhood, testified on behalf of an ordinance Mayor Emanuel introduced at the last City Council meeting to create a Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission. Since the official designation ceremony in February, Ald. Beale noted an increased interest in the area, and said he and the Mayor agree on the need for the commission to provide a point of contact for the surrounding community.

Pullman is the city’s first national monument. The ordinance passed without discussion. The seven member body would include a chairman and six members appointed by the mayor, “with input from Pullman community leaders, business owners, and residents”, according to the ordinance. The board would be responsible for coordinating projects to promote tourism and raise community awareness, maintaining the area, and reporting new developments with the City Council and Mayor’s Office. The board could also solicit and accept public and private contributions, but would have to coordinate spending with the National Park Service.

Lincoln Center Development Approved – 43rd Ward
Baker Development Corporation secured approval from the committee to tear down the old Lincoln Center Condos (2500 block of N. Lincoln Ave.) and build a mixed-use residential and commercial building next to the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park. Baker’s plans include a ten story building with 200 residential units, roughly 16,300 square feet of retail space, and at least 138 off-street parking spaces. The neighboring Apollo Theater would remain.

The Plan Commission approved the application last week, a required step since the developer seeks to rezone the area as a residential business planned development. Attorney Rolando Acosta’s presentation Wednesday highlighted the 18-month review process the developers went through, including nearly 50 community meetings. Three neighborhood residents and local Ald. Michele Smith (43) testified in support. They called the current building an “eyesore,” and said the new development will bring life and commerce to the neighborhood.

Nobu Hotel for West Randolph – 27th Ward 
The Nobu Hotel at 848-856 W. Randolph Street won committee approval Wednesday. The Nobu Hospitality Group, started by famed Japanese Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, operates hotels and restaurants across the country, and boasts actor Robert De Niro as an investor. The new, 7-story boutique hotel includes 83 hotel rooms and 35 off-site parking spots. Plans also include an amenity level, rooftop penthouse, and outdoor seating for the restaurant. Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. said the scaled-down project is a result of several meetings with five different community organizations over the past two years. “We love hotels,” Ald. Burnett joked. This is third new hotel to come to the 27th Ward.

The new Soho Club is down the block from the proposed Nobu site, and the Ace Hotel near the Google’s Fulton Market office is almost complete. Ald. Joe Moreno (1) called it a “boutique hotel row.” And while six people signed up to testify in support and against this project when it was brought before the Plan Commission, only one person from the public, George Blakemore, signed up to testify at Wednesday’s meeting.

90-Year-Old Tavern Seeking Full Service Kitchen – 47th Ward
Spyners Pub, 4623 N. Western Ave., has been around for almost a century. It’s so old, the building pre-dates the zoning code. It was grandfathered in as a community shopping district (B3-2), according to attorney Thomas Moore. He says his client, Maureen Sullivan, has owned the bar on 4619-23 N. Western Ave. for the last 25 years and is now seeking a zoning change to a neighborhood commercial district (C1-2), so she can add a commercial kitchen and restaurant. The Committee approved the request without discussion.

Ohio State Teachers Pension Fund-owned Building Gets Rezone – 47th Ward
Applicant STRS L3 ACQ3, LLC, received approval from the Zoning Committee to rezone the property on 3355-61 N. Lincoln Ave. to lease the first floor to Bareburger, an “upscale burger restaurant and bar.” Attorney Meg George with the law firm Neal and Leroy, says the current zoning doesn’t permit restaurants.

Ald. Tom Tunney asked about the building’s existing use. George said her clients already tore down the building and are in the middle of constructing a new one. Her client is applying for a special use permit to add a salon on the second floor. Ald. Carrie Austin (34) then asked what the acronym for the LLC stands for, to which George responded, that it is a joint fund of the Ohio State Teachers Pension Fundand L3 Realty. Ald. Austin and Chairman Solis seemed intrigued the pension fund invested in property in Chicago. George said that they own several pieces of property in the city.

Deferred Items

The committee deferred five items on the agenda because they require prior approval from the Plan Commission:

  • NO. 18413-T1 (32nd Ward): Jarla LLC submitted an application to rezone an existing sports and recreation facility property on 1819 W. Webster and its two off site parking lots (1823-1855 W. Webster; 2134 N. Wood St.). The three lots are currently designated as a heavy industry district (MS-3), but the applicant wants the site redesignated as a neighborhood commercial district (C1-3) to build a second story outdoor dining area that would serve liquor.
  • NO. 18410 (42nd Ward): Jupiter Realty Company LLC wants to amend Residential Business Planned Development No. 368 to construct a 45 story, 513 ft. tall residential building with 444 units and 181 parking spaces near the new Loews Hotel and North Water ApartmentsAld. Brendan Reilly (42)and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) got a look at development plans in mid-June (slideshow here).
  • NO. 18402 (43rd Ward): The owners of the Inn at Lincoln Park, L.V.M Corporation, want to tear down the existing building to construct a nine story building with a penthouse, 150 hotel rooms, and 7,700 sq. ft. of retail space with an adjoining restaurant that would serve food and liquor outside. Plans also include 83 parking spaces. The applicant needs to rezone the site, 601-09 W. Diversey Pkwy./2726-36 N. Lehmann Ct., from a neighborhood shopping district (B1-2) to a community shopping district (B3-5) and then eventually to a Planned Development. While the plans are over a year old and a public hearing was held in December, the ordinance was referred to the zoning committee in June.
  • NO. 1840 T1 (40th Ward): Half Acre will need approval from the Plan Commission to build a 35,000 sq. ft. brewery that will include a full service kitchen, tasting room and beer garden. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Chicago’s Half Acre Brewery, is managing member of GMB Partners LLC, which manages Bastion of Balmoral, LLC, the applicant on file for this zoning request. The company seeks to rezone 2050 E. Balmoral Ave from a manufacturing zoned district (M1-2) to a commercial district (C3-3).
  • NO. 18415 (2nd & 27th Ward): The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago would like to amend Institutional Planned Development No. 447 to allow for residential use so it can build a senior residence building. The Institute’s PD has been in place since 1989, and currently allows for public ministry, publication, broadcasting, worship, assembly, academic, office, residential and recreational and special uses primarily to support physical education and recreation.

Deferred at Request of The Attorney

  • No. 18417 (47th Ward): The applicants, Lisa Mullaney and Martin Kelly, applied to rezone their property on 3622 N. Leavitt St. from a residential single unit (RS3) designation to a residential two-flat, townhouse (RT3.5) to build a third floor. They are represented by Mark Kupiec & Associates. Chairman Solis said the attorney on file requested an August hearing.
  • No. 18392 (21st Ward): Miles Management Corporation would like to re-designate the site of its recycling facility from an M1-2 Limited Manufacturing and Business Park District to an M3-2 Heavy Industry District. M1 designated areas are for low impact manufacturing and warehouse distribution, while M3 designated areas are high impact and allow for extractive and waste-related production. M3 areas also permit outside storage of raw materials. According to the application, the property will remain a Class V recycling facility that handles construction and demolition materials.
  • No. 18406 (1st Ward): The applicants, Faizullah and Saba Khan, would like to rezone their property on 1256 N. Wood Street to accommodate construction of a new three-story rear addition. The applicants are represented by the law offices of Samuel V.P. Banks.

Deferred by Request of Local Alderman

  • No. 18398 T1 (25th Ward): Applicant GLPE LLC, represented by attorney Thomas S. Moore, is asking for the committee to re-zone a chunk of West Loop to build a four story, 70-unit residential building. The site in question (1038-1050 W Monroe St., 1039-1051 W Rundell Pl) is currently zoned as a downtown service district (DS-3), which allows for a mix of small scale office, commercial and public use that is supposed to compliment downtown businesses and residents. Amending the zoning to a downtown mixed use district (DX-3) would accommodate residential use. The property is next to the site of the former Carmichael’s Steakhouse, which announced it was closing its doors earlier this spring. The building’s owners, Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group, had originally planned to build 131 residential units at the site. But last fall, DNA Info reported Chairman Solis effectively blocked those, or any new apartments from popping up on the 1000 block of West Monroe unless developers had approval from neighbors. Solis asked for the item to be deferred at the start of the meeting, but didn’t say why.
  • No. 18384 (25th Ward): Elizabeth Avina’s application to rezone a property on 1911 W. Cullerton to convert the existing one-story commercial space and basement into two residential dwelling units was first referred to the committee in May. The Chicago Title Land Trust Company owns the property and Avina is the beneficiary.
  • No. 18404 (32nd Ward): The applicant and property owner, Michael Cordaro, wants a zoning change to build a new six-story mixed-use building with 38 apartments, 21 on-site parking spaces, and 12 additional parking spaces behind the building. Cordaro needs to reclassify the site on 1868-78 N. Milwaukee Ave., which has split zoning as a community shopping district (B3-3) and a neighborhood mixed-use district (B2-2). His application seeks a uniform zone: B3-5 Community Shopping District which would change the density allowed on site.