Zoning home includes routing to maps, ordinance changes of 2004, forums etc. Proposed local option (liquor) zoning changes. Development home.

Proposed zoning changes in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Area

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Development-Preservation-Zoning Committee, and its website www.hydepark.org. Written by Gary Ossewaarde, then HPKCC Development-Preservation-Zoning chair.

To the 1301-05 zoning change in the Kenwood Historic District
Franks Home at 5052 S. Ellis (also in historic district)
New home for Animal Clinic zoning change, 1365 E. 53rd
A proposed approach to zoning that gives flexibility in preserving-reusing fairly large historic buildings
Del Prado rezoning- for alcohol

See Liquor Zoning for disputes such as Walgreens.


Next 53rd TIF meeting tba.

In August 2014 Open Produce, 1635 E. 55th St. sought a permit for package beer and wine sales. Ald. Hairston was in support.
A public meeting, sparcely attended followed in winter. An uproar broke loose when the Depadrtmetn of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection- Local Liquor Control Commission sent out notice of an Objection Period ending June 16. There was reminiscence of problems with a former store at Cornell and 55th and of when Walgreens sold small bottles. This proposal is for package goods including at least craft beer and medium priced wine, and teh store is open until 2 am. Comments can bed sent to the Department at 121 N. LaSalle, Room 805, Chicago IL 60602 by June 16.

August 1 2013, Friday. Ald. Hairston has called a zoning meeting re Fenn House, 5638 S. Woodlawn, now proposed single family zoning for a family that will rehab it. Previous proposal had been for a student housing. Location there?


July 13 2010? considered and approved by the TIF council: The proposed change [to accommodate use of the former Subway on 53rd St.* for Hyde Park Animal Clinic use] involves changing the zoning from B1-3 Neighborhood Shopping District to B3-3 Community Shopping District. Danielle Meltzer Cassel, of Vedder Price PC will make a presentation on behalf of the property owner.
August 25: approved by the Chicago Zoning Commission and recommended for City Council approval, likely Sept. 9.
That Subway is now in or was replaced by one in the former Baskin Robbins across the street in Dorchester Commons. That store now also sells Baskin Robbins ice cream.

From the July 13 TIF minutes: Proposed Zoning Change for 1363-67 E. 53rd Street: The Council has been asked to approve a proposal to change the zoning from B1-3, Neighborhood Shopping District, to B3-3, Community Shopping District. Danielle Meltzer Cassel of Vedder Price PC presented the proposal, explaining that the change would allow a veterinary office to rent the vacant space previously occupied by Subway. While there is no guarantee that the property owner and the owner of the Hyde Park Animal Clinic will reach an agreement (building lease negotiations are separate and apart from the zoning change), the possibility of the animal clinic leasing the storefront cannot be considered without the zoning change. Regardless of who the tenant will be, Ms. Meltzer Cassel stated that the change in zoning does open up the possibility of more diversity of businesses in this section of Hyde Park.

Ms. Meltzer Cassel explained some of the use differences between the two zoning designations and also explained the need for additional hearings should a B3-3 "special use" facility be considered (e.g. tattoo parlor, shelter or boarding kennel, fortune teller, hotel/motel).

Jack Spicer reminded members that the new zoning ordinance allows broad zoning changes to occur on 53rd Street, if the Alderman and community so desire. This would negate having to make recommendations on a case-by-case basis. However, it was pointed out that doing this would lessen control over which businesses come into the neighborhood.

Moved, seconded, passed unanimously to approve the request for a zoning change for said property from B1-3 to B3-3.

October 7, 2009 approved by City Council.

April 16, 2012, The University of Chicago came before the 4th Ward meeting to announce it is seeking a change of zoning for former Borders site at Lake Park and 53rd from B-1 to B-3 which would allow catering, live entertainment, and liquor sales (if approved in a separate line of filing). The property was called an anomalous spot zoning since the other retail properties around it are zoned B-3 and many businesses will not consider a space zoned lower than B-3. The matter next will be vetted at the May 14 53rd St. TIF meeting moved it further along. .


Some thoughts on the Oct. 15 2012 4th Ward meeting on 53rd St. and other matters.

At the end of the meetng, there was an overlaying discussion of possibilities of a special taxing district that could answer complaints during the Theater presentation (by the 400 New person (Mr. Fox)) -- complaints being that one of the problems of the former theater was mess and rats, Ald. Burns saying a SSA could bring back something like Cleanslate, and parking (the criticism from some attendees to every agenda item) with the Ald. saying a main purpose of an SSA would be to have trolleys and other ways to move people on 53rd with fewer cars. An interesting thing proposed was having parking on either end of 53rd and trolleys going back and forth. This in turn was tied into controversy over the one of the two new restaurants-- the one where Third World Cafe was, with several people trying to say that 53rd from Kenwood to Woodlawn is "residential" and its residential character would be destroyed by re-zoning the University's Third World/Barbara Currie etc. building at Kimbark. (The restaurant seemed to this reporter GMO to be rather small and modest and with only ancillary liquor, not the maximum usage the new zoning would allow.) The upshot is that there will be a neighbors meeting with Mr. Merges and the Alderman about these changes. (Mr. Merges' other restaurant will be in the Theater-Herald bldg. Harper corner.)
The theater's plans looked really interesting and present plans met with no criticism except for not providing their own parking when Harper Court seems to add little parking beyond for its own needs. They promised to have a thorough program for cleaning up around the outside.

There was really little discussion of SSA, just as something the Ald. is going to propose.

There was a very contentious opposition to expanding Ancona School and its drop off, with others supporting the school-- about half the overcrowd was there for that. I arrived from our meeting about half way through the Ancona discussion and missed the presentation.


How licensing can trip a business up- but why it's needed.

Herald, February 22, 2012. Regents flap: Owners: Gym long avoided necessary licensing. Sam Cholke

U.S. President Barack Obama should never have been allowed on the treadmills at the Regents Club gym at the Regents Park apartment in East Hyde Park.

According to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, the 5020 S. Lake Shore Drive fitness center was never licensed and the treadmills, weights and pool should never have been open to anyone who did not live in Regents Park apartments. When Antheus Capital purchased the apartments in August, it discovered the paperwork for the president's former workout spot was missing. "We were aware that we could not find the elements we needed to run a health club," said Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus. When the new owners went downtown to locate and transfer the license, the city could find no history of a license, according to Cassel.

Regents Club does not require a license to open the facility to Regents Park apartments residents and they continue to have full access to the exercise facilities. But without a license, the club could not open the fitness center to the approximately 110 nonresident members. On Jan. 17, the city sent a letter to the Regents Club management saying that it would impose a fine of $200 to $109,000 beginning Feb. 16 for every day it continued to open its doors to nonresidents without first acquiring a limited business license.

The owners attempted to get a new license, but withdrew their application on Feb. 124, according to the city. Members reported receiving letters from Regents Club management informing them that their personal belongings must be removed by Feb. 17 and their unused membership fees would be returned. "It happened very suddenly," said [one nonresident member]....

According to the city, the Regents Club needed only to establish the occupancy of the space and set aside parking spaces for use by nonresident gym members. With space for 600 cars in the building, the parking requirement was a non-issue. The fitness center would not meet occupancy standards with its current set up, according to Cassel. he said there are a series of elements that need to be updated, adding that the space did not meet accessibility requirements and some rooms lacked proper exits. Because these issues could not be brought into compliance within 30 days, the management withdrew its application, according to Cassel.

"We would very much like to continue this activity and understand the hardship of the people who have used this over decades," Cassel said. The Regents Club will be brought up to city standards during a larger renovation of the building's first floor, according to Cassel. He said the fitness center would reapply for the license when construction is complete in the spring of 2013.


In May 2009 TIF Advisory Council approved rezoning B1 to B3 the 1350 E. 53rd St. Bldg. to allow a restaurant and catering business having a separate bar and other uses (that the owner said would not be sought and that would require further approvals).

A similar proposal was to come before the TIF Council July 13 re 1363-67 E. 53rd St., said to be to allow Hyde Park Animal Clinic to open a facility in that location (presently located in Harper Court).

January 2009. Alderman Preckwinkle assured the Kenwood Open House Committee that the proposed rezoning re 1307 E. 50th has been dropped and will not go forward.

Papers have been or were contemplated for filing filed for several planned use developments in the area, all having been vetted by the 53 St. TIF or in other venues except Harper Court, which is in final development of development of a RFP and Harper Theater/Herald Bldg., which will go out again in some form. Several have to go through city agency approval before proceeding. Those with clear plans received favorably are Solstice on the Park at 56th and Cornell (Antheus), 53rd Cornell (L3), Lake Village Center (Antheus), Giordano's Pizza renovation. Whether Doctors Hospital Hotel proposal (UC/White Lodging) will go forward to zoning change after serious opposition and a Local Option voting the precinct dry is highly unlikely.

Antheus-Silliman: February 2009- MAC Properties/Antheus Capital called a community meeting for Monday, February 23, 6 pm, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. concerning its desire to rezone the Del Prado from B1-5 to B3-5 in conjunction with a planned rehabilitation of the building and streetscape. This zoning change would permit the renovated Del Prado to offer a wider variety of commercial uses such as a general restaurant, which may serve alcoholic beverages if all required State and City permits and licenses are issued. Questions? Please contact Peter Cassel at (773) 347-3451 or pcassel@macapartments.com. Announcement in pdf.

(The Del Prado involves more than just ability to have a restaurant serving liquor. The matter before the Zoning Appeals involved exceptions to allow reconstruction of the upper appendage for high end rental housing that in turn will make other improvements feasible. See Antheus page for some more. In addition, Antheus won approval for a liquor-allowing zoning change for th 1600 block of E. 55th and now seeks for 1350 E. 53rd, which will be discussed at the May 11 2009 TIF meeting- more in Liquor rezoning page.) HPKCC supported Antheus/Silliman before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The TIF council in May backed the 1350 E. 53rd similar B1-2 to B3-2 rezoning. The change for the roof wings was approved- see disc. in Liquor Zoning and in Antheus.

HPKCC letter of support:

City of Chicago
Zoning Board of Appeals
Department of Zoning
City Hall – Room 906
121 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals:

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is writing to say it has no objection to the Del Prado LLC Appeal to remove and replace the twelfth floor wings of the Del Prado building, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

The Del Prado is an important and valued building in our neighborhood that was left to decline for decades. The applicant acquired the Del Prado building last year and is now trying to renovate and enliven the Del Prado’s interior and exterior in numerous ways that will benefit our community.

Part of that rehabilitation should include the applicant’s plan to replace the two twelfth floor wings. From most surrounding properties, the wings are not visible. But where the wings can be seen, it is clear they were not built with the same architectural quality as the rest of the Del Prado and they are very deteriorated and neglected. Those conditions are not within the control or caused by the applicant. The owner has hired a highly respected architect and we desire and expect that the replacement will meet the high standards of the main building.

The wings have been occupied building areas, most notably by the House of Eng restaurant, once a lively part of Hyde Park dining and social life and part of Hyde Park’s legacy as a hotel resort. The historic view and its memory should be kept and made available for enjoyment once more.

We have been advised that the replacement wing structures will have the same footprint and setbacks as the original wings, and that the top of the wings’ roofs will be raised modestly to an above-ground height of approximately 144 feet to accommodate mechanical equipment and better interior ceiling heights. We do not think that this will pose any adverse or noticeable impact on surrounding properties or the neighborhood, and it will help the applicant with the revitalization and continued use of this building.

Please approve the appeal and facilitate this sensitive and important investment in our community.

Respectfully yours,

George W. Rumsey
President and for the Board of Directors
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

Outcome: the Board of Zoning Appeals granted the appeal to MAC.

A growing concern is that such changes are popping up all over without overall consideration or policy.

MAC Properties petitions for a zoning changed to allow restaurants in the Del Prado selling hard liquor.

A public meeting was held February 23, 2009 in the building lobby, now empty of residents and frigid. While some came to vigorously protests the possibility of a package liquor store, when that was foreclosed by Antheus and the Alderman, the meeting settled down. According to the Maroon, quoting Kim Webb of the 5th Ward Office, "The alderman made it pretty clear that she wasn't going to let there be a liquor store there." The change is from B1-5 to B3-5. Some other business possible under the zoning, although Antheus is not necessarily considering any of them, would include veterinary, employment, dry cleaner or, with special permit tattoo parlor, cremation. Antheus seeks a quality restaurant, saying there is 12,000 square feet of vacant space on the ground floor. The rezoning is needed to attract such businesses.

Herald, March 4, 2009. By Sam Cholke

Owners of the Del Prado apartment building hosted a community meeting on Feb. 23 to broach a proposed rezoning that would allow for liquor sales at the site. The 196-unit building at 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. is slated to go through a yearlong rehab process that will include restoring the two ballrooms. Part of the purpose of the rezone is to facilitate attracting a restaurant to one of the 4,000-square-foot ballrooms, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC Property Management.

"What should be a hallmark of east Hyde Parkers should be great restaurants," Cassel said. Under the current B1-5 zoning, the building can house a restaurant, but the eatery could not obtain a liquor license or catering license, according to Cassel. Both liquor sales and the ability to cater are essential to attract and maintain the financial viability of a new restaurant, he said. "It's going to take tenants with real cash flow that can make that risky investment and build out to make it worth it," said Danielle Meltzer Cassel, zoning attorney for MAC.

Peter Cassel said right now the plan is to attract one restaurant to the north-facing ballroom while the zoning change opens up new uses for the south-facing ballroom, the former home of the Hyde Park Art Center. Under the new B3-5 zoning, a veterinary clinic, employment agency, dry cleaner and other businesses could take up residency without a special permit. Businesses like tattoo parlors, cremation services, liquor stores and other businesses would have to apply for a special permit requiring public meetings and the alderman's approval.

"Alcohol has traditionally been a problem here in east Hyde Park," said local resident Barbara Mayers at the meeting. Mayers said the prevalence of alcohol and proximity to Harold Washington Park has contributed to disruptions in east Hyde Park in the past. Mayers was one of many from the immediate neighborhood who said a liquor store would be an unacceptable tenant in the Del Prado.

Cassel said he agreed with Mayers sentiment and would not pursue a tenant that would adversely affect quality of life in the neighborhood or MAC's ability to attract new tenants to the Del Prado or any of the other MAC-managed buildings in close proximity. "We can't have a place that's a problem or makes it difficult to live here," Cassel said.

Any establishment selling liquor would also have to be approved by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who was clear to residents that a liquor store would not be an acceptable business for East Hyde Park. "If anyone were to propose to me a liquor store, I would say no, find another tenant," Hairston said. Hairston, who will sponsor the zoning change through City Council, said she thought the reaction to the proposed rezoning was positive with one clear caveat. "I heard a clear message that we don't want any taverns or package goods liquor stores," Hairston said.

The Del Prado was acquired last year by Antheus Capital, which employs MAC to manage its Hyde Park properties. Cassel said they are still in the process of applying for city permits to begin work on rehabbing the building. When it is reopened to tenants, the Del Prado will be about 189 units, a significant portion of which will be one-bedroom apartments, according to Cassel. Cassel said the rehab would take about a year, once work has begun.

During a building tour on Feb. 25 Cassel described how units would be updated with senior citizens in mind. Cassel said they imagined a building geared towards tenants who wanted to grow old in Hyde Park. The rehabbed del Prado would not be a senior living building with in-house services, but would have the necessary infrastructure in place for residents who choose to employ home health care services.

The lobby would also be fully revived with a new elevator, Cassel said. He said that bringing the lobby back to its original grandeur would require removing two small commercial spaces inside the building that are currently vacant.

The fate of the former House of Ing restaurant on the 12th floor remains unresolved, according to Cassel. "Right now, we have no plans for that whatsoever," cassel said. "We're working with the city to determine what's possible." The floor has deteriorated to such a point that several walls would need to be replaced to make the space useable, according to Meltzer Cassel. "We bought a building that was left to deteriorate, Meltzer Cassel said. The work that needs to be done is "not explicitly authorized," she said. They have filed with the zoning board of appeals to remove and replace the 12th floor with almost exactly the same footprint -- minus 60-square-feet for a new fire escape, Meltzer Cassel said.

The 13th floor is in a similar state of disrepair, according to Cassel. He said he did not know what the space was last used for, but consist of a series of small velvet-covered rooms with a washbasin in each. "I don't know what people do in small velvet-covered rooms," Cassel said.

The zoning change MAC is seeking for the Del Prado is the same as the October change for MAC's 1601-1623 E. 55th St. building. The zoning change was sought so restaurants in the complex could apply for liquor licenses. No businesses have yet applied for a liquor license, according to Cassel. Cassel said repairs to the facade have resumed and are scheduled to be completed by July.

December 17, 2008, the HPKCC larger Development Committee took the position that modern remapping should precede any further spot zoning.

Much disagreement was aroused in Kenwood in February 2009 over proposed rezoning of the Frank House at Ellis and Hyde Park Blvd. and restore the exterior but remodel the interior from single family to 2 condos.

An error was found in the rezoning of East hyde Park south of 53rd Street in the 5th Ward. That for Cornell Park and for an adjacent apartment building were swapped. Corrected notices were sent out (Feb. 2009) and a hearing will be scheduled.


1301-1305 E. 50th Street, in the South Kenwood Landmark District

Please note that Margaret Goldstein is no longer chair of the Kenwood Open House Committee.

Another non-liquor proposal is for rezoning from RS-1 to RS-3 is the double lot 1301-05 E. 50th St. in the (South ) Kenwood Historic District. The issues are presented from one point of view in this semi-open invitation to a meeting of the Kenwood Open House Committee (in existence since c.1950). Alderman Preckwinkle (4th) called a public hearing for December 2, 7 pm, St. Paul and the Redeemer, 4945 S. Dorchester.

Since rejection was so strong, the owners came back to a July 29 2009 meeting with a new plan after Landmark Commission review, requiring "minor variances" rather than zoning change. For example the facades are now mainly wood and differ from each other and are no more than 20' wide. They will be only 2.5' apart and some of the 25 attendees asked that they be put as far to the west as possible. Opinion seemed to be split, but the Alderman seemed to want the project to go forward. SEE THE PLANS IN PDF. To latest press coverage.

The November 2008 meeting had a full explanation and strong opposition, largely on grounds of setting precedents or out-of-character. Another meeting was to have been held in January but APPARENTLY SEEING THE OPPOSITION, THE OWNER WITHDREW THE REQUEST.


Developers have requested a zoning change from RS-1 to RS-3 for their recently purchased lot at 1301-1305 E 50th St. The minimum lot area per unit in the RS-1 category is 6,250 sq. ft. The minimum lot area in the RS-3 category is 2,500 sq. ft. John J. George, attorney for the developer, notified property owners within 250 ft. of the property of his filing of the petition for zoning change. The letter is attached. The developers could build 1 single family house and garage without a zoning change. But, they want to build 2 narrow houses with garages on the lot. To accomplish this they must obtain a zoning change. KOHC has repeatedly requested copies of the plans and the petition for the zoning change but they have not been made available.

Many Kenwood residents have expressed opposition to a zoning change. Here are some of the reasons:
1) It would disrupt the visual integrity of the neighborhood and that block in particular.
2) It would set a dangerous precedent. If zoning is changed for one developer other requests are sure to follow. It would be impossible for the City to turn them down.
3) There are at least 25 houses with side yards that would be vulnerable to such development in Kenwood.
4) The unique character, beauty and density of Kenwood would be permanently altered.

KOHC has prepared and is circulating petitions in opposition to the zoning change. We need as many signatures as possible. If you are willing to circulate one in your area or wish to sign and cannot attend the meeting, please call or email Diane Gray-Brodsky; (ab44@earthlink.net);(773)268-0857.

KOHC has been in touch with Alderman Toni Preckwinkle to express our opposition and request information. We have not received plans or the zoning petition filings from her office. The Alderman is hosting a meeting on Dec. 2nd at 7:00 p.m. at St. Paul and the Redeemer Church, 4945 S Dorchester. The developers, Harlan Karp and Dan Aucunas have been asked to present plans. The Alderman has asked that the change request be held from the November 18 Zoning Committee agenda. Please contact her to express your feelings; (tpreckwinke@cityofchicago.org) or (773)536-8103.

It will take much time and effort from the community to fight this proposed zoning change. We need help and participation from everyone. Happily, we have not had to fight such a battle since a developer wanted to convert the Rosenwald house into 3 condominiums and put 18 townhouses in the back yard. We won that battle. We did establish a legal defense fund and hire an attorney to represent us. Many neighbors believe it will be necessary to do this again. There is much technical work and we will need representation at hearings and before the Zoning Committee and City Council.


Margaret Goldstein, Chairman (msgoldstein@sbcglobal.net)
Cynthia Aronovitz, Vice-chairman (caronovitz@msn.com)
Laura Sekhar, Treasurer (laura_sekhar@hotmail.com)
Karen O’Mara, Corresponding secretary (dr.karen.omara@gmail.com)
Peggy Studiger, Recording Secretary


Letter of notice from attorney concerning the proposed rezoning

(312) 72.-8797
October I, 2008
USPS First Class Mail

In re: 1301 and 1305 East 50th Street Chicago, Illinois

Dear Property Owner or Resident:

In accordance with the requirements for an Amendment to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, please be informed that on or about October I, 2008, I, the undersigned attorney, will file an application for a change in zoning from the RS-l Residential Single-Unit (Detached House) District to the RS-3 Residential Single-Unit (Detached House) District on behalf of the Applicant for the property located at 1301 and 1305 East 50th Street, Chicago, Illinois and bounded by East 50th Street; a line 515 feet East of and parallel to South Woodlawn Avenue; the alley next South of and parallel to East 50th Street; and a line 465 feet East of and parallel to South Woodlawn A venue.

The intended use of the property is to develop the property with two new single family homes containing approximately 3,300 square feet respectively with two car garages.

The Applicant is Daniel Aucunas, whose address is 4930 S. Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60615.

I am the attorney for the Applicant. My address is 20 South Clark Street, Suite 400, Chicago), Illinois 60603.

Please note that the Applicant is not seeking to purchase or rezone your property. The Applicant is required by law to send you this notice because you own property located within 250 feet of the proposed development.

Herald report, December 10, 2008. Kenwood Developer defends proposed plans, Up-zoning stirs ire of neighbors. By Kate Hawley

A Kenwood developer seeking to build two houses on a historic Kenwood block aired his plans last Tuesday evening before a sometimes testy group of his neighbors, many of whom objected to a higher zoning designation required for the project.

Daniel Aucunas, A Kenwood resident since 1997 who has several award-winning restorations of historic properties in the area to his credit, wants to build a pair of three-story brick-and-limestone houses at 1301 and 1305 E. 50th St.

Roughly 70 people gathered at St. Paul and the Redeemer Church, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave., to see the development team's proposal and give their feedback. Aucunas, his wife Stephanie and his partner in the project Harlan Karp said they were surprised by the deluge of emails they had already received from local residents concerned that the houses are too big for the lots they occupy.

Neighbors repeated these sentiments Tuesday, and several people said they feared that even the slight up-zoning Aucunas proposes would set a precedent that could send Kenwood the way of Lake View or Lincoln Park, where so-called "spot zoning" -- when zoning is changed within a larger district -- has allowed the construction of jumbo-sized houses amid more modestly sized homes and apartment buildings.

"That can mean terrible things in Kenwood," said ruth Horwich, a local resident. "I am furious about it."

Aucunas and his team pointed out that the zoning change would apply only to the two lots in question and argued that their proposed houses would fit in with the surrounding homes in both scale and design. Karp said the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has already reviewed the designs to ensure that they comply with restrictions for the Kenwood landmark district, notable for its historic homes built primarily between 1860 and 1920. The district runs from 47th to 51st streets and from Blackstone Avenue to Drexel Boulevard.

With a few exceptions, most who spoke up at Tuesday's meeting opposed the zoning change Aucunas needs in order to build slightly wider structures with more square footage. The current zoning, RS-1, would allow for the construction of a 15-foot-wide, 1,875-square-foot house on each of the two city lots, which are 25 feet wide and 150 feet long. Aucunas is seeking an RS-3 designation for houses that are 3,300 square feet and 20 feet wide.

Some at the meeting said they feared an RS-3 designation would allow for the construction of a two-flat. While that is technically a provision of the zoning code, the lots at 1301 and 1305 E. 50th St. are not large enough to allow for any structure besides a single-family house, said Chris Leach, an attorney for the project. Aucunas argued that the bigger houses will garner a higher price, allowing the development team to uses higher-quality materials -- for example, vintage brick and real limestone instead of the manmade "Renaissance stone" ubiquitous in new-construction projects across the city. "If we can get the R3 designation... we can sell the houses for upwards of $1.7 to $1.8 million, which would positively impact property values in the neighborhood," Aucunas said.

Many of the neighbors said they would prefers Aucunas to build just one house on the two lots, or barring that, a pair of conjoined rowhouses that would leave more room on either side, but only if up-zoning were not required.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who ran the meeting and who would ultimately have to approve a zoning change, suggested that when the developers next meet with the neighbors in January, they should bring in samples of the materials they plan to use. She also asked them to follow up on one neighbor's question about whether it would be possible to build the houses by getting zoning variances to the RS-1 designation and not up-zoning to RS-3.

Writers in the Dec. 17 Herald gave stronger explanations of their opposition to the 1301 50th houses. Margaret Goldstein of Kenwood Open House Committee says the difference between R-1 and R-3 is significant: 176% size increase filling 80% rather than 60% of the lot. Not only is this compression just where things start to open up, but also the spot zoning would set a precedent for at least 20 other side yards. Also, the Landmarks Commission has not granted permission, and the developers did not make a case why two 1,500 sft combined houses (duplex or two-flat) was not feasible.

Elizabeth Chalder, Aaron and Diane Brodsky, Jennifer Cole and Julian Dibbell said the crowd was "fightin' mad" about "an effort to transform a historical district." The problems, they say, are: 1. Spot rezoning precedent such has ruined many neighborhoods on the north side. 2. Squeezing lots and enlarging structures (houses on steroids). 3 Design, including that they are "anywhere USA" and identical, which is not otherwise true of any other nearby streets.

Later coverage on 1301-1305 50th. See plans shown at July 29, 2009 public meeting.

Kenwood Developer gets green light from community. Hyde Park Herald, August 5, 2009. [Note, a leader, Ms. Goldstein, of the Kenwood Open House Committee emailed the community and this writer (Gary Ossewaarde) that the poorly-attended meeting gave a split decision, with many still seeking "no variances" in the historic district. and every effort to spread the houses apart from each other and from the next existing house. Ald. Preckwinkle thought those preferring only one house if that was the result of "no variations" were placing an unreasonable burden on the owner and developer. Note, only two "minor variances" are allowed for consideration before it is considered a major change that requires the full set of zoning and (separately) landmark hearings. Also, the meeting was on Wednesday the 29th.]

Developers brought revised plans for two houses at 1301 -1305 E. 50th st., to a Tuesday meeting at St. Paul and the Redeemer church, 4905 S. Dorchester Ave. Residents found them more acceptable than plans presented in December. The new plans, at the recommendation of the Landmarks Commission, called for squatter two-story, 20-foot wide, wood-frame houses.

"This deign is within the context of the current zoning, but with some variances," said Harlan Karp, developer for the project with South Block Real Estate Developers and Managers. In December, the developers presented plans for two three-story, narrow brick houses that neighbors thought were inappropriate for the two lots in the Kenwood Landmark District. The plans also were flatly rejected by the Landmarks Commission, which must sign off on any chang to building facades in the landmark district.

Unlike the plans presented in December, the new design does not need a zoning change, but would require an administrative adjustment because the side yards are only 2-and-a-half feet wide compared to the 5 feet required by the zoning. An administrative adjustment requires the notification of affected neighbors and review by a zoning administrator. adjustments are considered "minor modifications," according to the city's municipal code. More than two minor deviations from the zoning code would require public hearings with the Zoning Board of Appeals.

"Both the Landmarks Commission and I think the house here is better than the narrower one," Preckwinkle said. "I think the narrow house would look extremely odd."

Several in the audience worried that allowing the developer to build houses that did not strictly follow the zoning code would set a precedent in the Kenwood Landmark District, bounded by East 47th and East 51st streets, South Blackstone and South Drexel avenues. Many thought a single house on the lots would be more appropriate. "I don't think that's a reasonable thing to ask the developers," Preckwinkle said.

Karp said because of the sluggish market, the houses will not be built until a buyer has been lined up.


Objection to above coverage in Herald letter August 12:

Your front page headline "Kenwood Developer gets Green Light from Community" (Aug. 5) is entirely misleading and indeed, is not borne out by the text of the ensuing article.

At the community meeting, those attending were never, at any point asked to approve the erection of two skinny frame houses that would block out light and air around and between them. Rather, we were told that since these were within the city zoning code, no further action would be effective. the developer staunchly defended the requested variances which would extend these structures to approximately two and a half feet of their lot lines.

Many, if not most, of us left the meeting feeling deeply unhappy. It now appears that these plans do not conform to the city zoning codes. Let us hope that we may yet see the fine single dwelling suited to this very small frontage. Ensuing developments need to be closely watched by the community.

Joan and Warwick Coppleson, Diane Gray, Aaron Brodsky, Ruth Horwich.


Franks House at 5052 Ellis to be divided.

Alderman Preckwinkle announced her approval of a request by local developper Barbara Bowes to rezone part of the former Franks (as in Leopold and Loeb) house (former De Lena Day School) 5052 S. Ellis from RS1 residential single detached to all RM5 residential multiunit to allow remodeling into two condominiums. City Council committee on Zoning is scheduled to vote on this January 12 2010. The exterior will be remodeled according to current character in accord with the South Kenwood Historic District requirements. Original architect was Henry L. Newhouse. This site has not heard whether there were any local objections to moving away from single family. The side street along it is Hyde Park Blvd., which has a mix of structures. In the next block to the east is President Obama's house, and to the south of that a vacant lot (outside the historic district?) along HPB that is proposed to be developed as several condos. Top

A proposed new approach allowing planned development status and flexibility to historic buildings that don't meet the current 12,500 sq. ft. threshold endorsed by preservation, commerce and building owner groups. Would solve problems such as Del Prado without need for zoning appeal.

Hyde Park Herald, September 2, 2009. By Sam Cholke

A change to zoning ordinance by downtown Alds. Brendon Reilly (42nd) may open th door for landmarked buildings to be redeveloped as "planned developments." That change would allow for greater leeway in changing zoning and altering the interior space on landmarked building and endangered historically significant buildings through a public hearings process.

Currently, buildings smaller than 12,500 square feet cannot go through the planned development process. The change is meant to spur reuse of historic buildings downtown, but will affect future reuse of buildings in Hyde Park, like the Del Prado, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., among others. The Del Prado's owners recently ran into red tape when attempting to redevelop the former rooftop home of the House of Eng, a storied gathering place for South Siders that closed decades ago.

The floor area, minimum lot size, open space and building height "may be deviated from if that relief is necessary for the rehabilitation and reuse of these structures," sections of teh amended ordinance read.

The ordinance is sponsored by Reilly, Ald. Bob Fioretti (nd) and Ald Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) in City Council.

Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Building Owners and Managers Association endorsed the ordinance. The full council will vote on the ordinance at the Sept. 9 meeting.