The Committee unanimously approved landmark designation for the Fulton Randolph Market, expansion plans for Hadiya Pendleton Park, construction of a new building for an existing University of Chicago Charter School, and construction of a residential and office high rise in downtown Chicago.

While there was some community opposition to the park expansion and confusion as to whether Ald. Willie Cochran (20) supported the charter school construction plan in his ward, most ordinances passed with little discussion.

Committee members present: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman James Cappleman (47), Joe Moreno (1), George Cardenas (12), Matt O’Shea (19), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44), Ameya Pawar (47)

Non-members present: Pat Dowell (3), Rick Munoz (22)

Amended Landmark Designation approved for Fulton Randolph Market (27th Ward)
Document #O2015-458

No one from the Fulton Market community signed up to testify against the ordinance, a stark contrast to the public outcry during the Commission on Chicago Landmarks hearing in April. And at the last minute, it was revealed that Ald. Walter Burnett (27)had decided to remove one of the properties from the district’s landmark list: a large condo building at 1001 W. Randolph St.

Neither the alderman nor any of his staff were present in the chambers when Chairman Solis first brought the ordinance up. Instead, it was Eleanor Gorski, the Director of Historic Preservation for the Department of Planning and Development, who told the Committee about Ald. Burnett’s decision to amend the proposal. Unclear about the new changes to the ordinance, Chairman Solis asked the committee to hold off on voting until Burnett or someone from his office explained the substitute. The committee moved on to other business until a representative from Ald. Burnett’s office, Askia Abdullah, joined the meeting and testified on the alderman’s behalf. He said the exempted property is on the edge of the district. Two people spoke in support of the plan: Ward Miller with Preservation Chicago and Will Tippens with Landmarks Illinois.

University of Chicago’s Charter School Plan approved (20th Ward)
Document #O2015-2680 & Document #O2015-2587

After some confusion as to whether Ald. Willie Cochran supported the University of Chicago’s plan to build a new charter school in the 20th Ward, the committee eventually approved the zoning change. Ald. Cochran wasn’t present at yesterday’s meeting, but his Chief of Staff, Margaret Boyd, told the committee the alderman wouldn’t support the project unless additional on-site parking was added to the plan.

The University of Chicago wants to build a new three-story school and athletic field for approximately 750 middle and high school students. The plan calls for 25 parking spaces. Boyd said local residents don’t think that’s enough. The new request blindsided representatives from the University, who testified they were under the impression Cochran was already in support of the plan.

Boyd requested the committee table the item so she could call the alderman. Chairman Solis asked, “Why didn’t you take care of this before we brought [the item] up?” A representative from the Department of Planning and Development interjected, saying the parking satisfied the zoning requirement and any extra spaces would have to be submitted in a separate application.

The application has been sitting in committee for several months. At the last Zoning meeting, it was deferred back to the Plan Commission, where it was approved last week. Ald. Joe Moreno suggested the committee pass the ordinance but hold off on submitting it to the full council until Ald. Cochran gave the okay. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) invoked Rule 14 and abstained from the vote. His wife works for the University.

At the end of the meeting, Chairman Solis said he got word that Ald. Cochran supported the project, which means it will go before the full Council next month.


Hadiya Pendleton Park Expansion Approved (3rd Ward)
Document #O2015-3739

Despite community opposition, aldermen approved Ald. Pat Dowell’s zoning request to expand a South Side park that was recently renamed after a King College Prep High School student killed by two gang members.

Originally proposed by the Chicago Park District, the Hadiya Pendleton Parkexpansion project would turn the former Buckthorn Park, a small quarter acre playlot, into a two acre park outfitted with a new playground, walking path and fitness stations.

The vacant land around the park is currently zoned for residential use. Neighbors who testified against the expansion plan said they would rather have additional market-rate housing on the land, because the existing park is a breeding ground for gang violence. There was also concern that a bigger park would create more congestion and parking headaches.

Ald. Dowell said that while she agrees the old park was an eyesore, she is working on addressing violence, parking and housing issues in the area.


Downtown Mixed Residential & Office High Rise Approved (42nd Ward)
Document # O2015-2625

Developers got the green light from the Zoning Committee to rezone a large plot of land at Hubbard and Wells streets next to the L tracks so they can construct a 152 ft. office tower, 200 ft. residential building with 180 dwelling units, and retail on the ground floor. Rich Cloutier, with the law firm DLA Piper, testified before the committee on behalf of the applicant, 215 Hubbard LLC.

Alderman Brendan Reilly (42) and James Cappleman (46) were very excited about this development project, because the developers pledged to make two big payment towards the City’s affordable housing and public transportation funds.

According to the agreement, the development project will make a $1,169,228 contribution to the Transit Infrastructure Improvement Bonus and a $1,461,536 contribution to the Affordable Housing Bonus, commonly referred as the “ARO.”  Ald. Reilly said this project is the reason he introduced the Transit Infrastructure Improvement Bonus, which lets developers add extra square footage to a project if they pay into a fund earmarked for public transportation development. This high rise will be located close to the Merchandise Mart Brown Line stop.

Ald. Reilly says the bonus money will be used to finish stalled CTA improvement projects around Franklin St. A few years ago, the CTA was in the middle of removing toxic, lead-based paint chips and fixing an “ugly structure” when they ran out of money, says Reilly. He expects money from this project and two other proposed development plans along the same corridor will help the CTA finish the stalled plans.


Zoning Changes for Amusement Arcades Approved (33rd Ward)
Document # O2015-4207

The Committee approved Ald. Deb Mell’s ordinance to amend the Municipal Code to make it easier for internet and console gaming businesses to open. Current zoning law restricts these kinds of businesses to areas zoned for strip malls and taverns. Ald. Mell’s Chief of Staff, Dana Fritz, told Aldertrack the ordinance change is for a business in the 33rd Ward that doesn’t fit the ordinances narrow definition and doesn’t want to serve alcohol since most of its patrons are underage.


New 22nd Ward Community Center Approved (22nd Ward)
Document #O2015-4244

An abandoned residential building in the 22nd Ward got the committee okay to become a community center. Ald. Rick Munoz’s (22) requested to rezone the building on 2653-59 S. Kildare Ave. for a project for Erie Neighborhood House, a community group that provides social services. Erie House will expand the neighboring site near their 25th St. location to add a computer lab, communal space and daycare facility. Ald. Munoz said the plan has widespread support in the community, but said there are no renderings of the proposed site. Ald. Moreno invoked Rule 14 and abstained from the vote, as his wife Celena Roldan, is the executive director of Erie Neighborhood House.


Site of Former Crispus Attucks Elementary School Rezoned for Commercial Use (3rd Ward)
Document # O2015-4243

Ald. Pat Dowell was listed as the alderman sponsoring this ordinance, but when it came up early in the meeting, she expressed confusion and asked that it be deferred so she could confer with the Department of Planning and Development. After speaking with DPD, Ald. Dowell revealed that the property in question is the former site of the Crispus Attucks Elementary School, one of the nearly 50 public schools the Chicago Board of Education closed in 2013. She said the large building is currently split into two zoning categories, and the proposed zoning change would solidify the area into one zoning classification should CPS decide to sell it. “It’s really for planning purposes,” Ald. Dowell said.

This ordinance struck a personal cord with City Hall fixture George Blakemore, who said, “once upon a time, a long time ago,” he was a teacher at Attucks. He demanded the City reopen the school instead of possibly turning it into a commercial property.


Rear Coach House Partial Demolition Approved (1st Ward)
Document # O2015-344

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks submitted a request to demolish the rear portion of the historic landmark on 1935 W. Shiller St. in Wicker Park. Eleanor Gorski, the Director of Historic Preservation for the Department of Planning and Development, testified on behalf of the property owner. She said the homeowner wants to add a new rear addition and renovate parts of the house. The landmarks commission had already approved the renovations, but since it is a landmark, demolition or renovation of 40% or more of the property needs City Council approval. When Chairman Solis asked Ald. Joe Moreno if he wanted to speak on the record, since the building is in his ward, Ald. Moreno gave the ordinance two thumbs up. “We need some sort of verbal articulate response to this,” Solis joked. Moreno laughed and said it’s an, “excellent use for the ward.”


Additional Items Approved

Citywide: [DOCUMENT # O2015-4193] Mayor Emanuel’s proposed compost expansion. This ordinance would expand the list of compostable materials community gardens and urban farms can turn into fertilizer.  The legislation would also create a city-wide registry of community gardens and urban farms. Farms that want to make their own compost would have to pay the city $3,000 for a three year permit. Non-profit farms could apply for a discounted, $300 annual permit.

36th Ward: Motorcycle Shop [DOCUMENT # O2015-4178] A motorcycle repair company asked for a zoning change at 5800 W. Addison so that it could build a shop at the existing property. The application was filed by an LLC and the attorney on record is Samuel VP Banks. Freshman Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) submitted a letter of support and it passed without any questions.

40th Ward: Standard Zoning Changes [DOCUMENT # O2015-3741] Ald. Pat O’Connor’s (40) request to rezone several properties that were added to his ward as a result of redistricting. A representative from his office said the alderman wanted one unified zoning classification to conform to the, “residential feel of the neighborhood.” It passed without any questions.