I am absolutely thrilled to report that after a meeting with the Alderman and neighbors last night, this beautiful building will be spared the wrecking ball. After receiving numerous letters and phone calls from concerned neighbors, the Alderman spoke to the developer and they agreed to develop the adjacent lot with a 3-flat and keep the existing structure intact. But wait, it gets better. That is the worst-case scenario. Best is that the neighbors found a few people who are willing to match the developers price and not develop the beautiful side yard that is a garden that was developed for over 30 years!
And even more good news. The Alderman agreed to downzone their block and ours to avoid further teardowns of solid 2-flat buildings. The zoning change has to be processed and the Alderman has to work with developer and building owner (sale has not closed- no permits issued yet etc..) but things are looking quite good.
Here's the letter I sent to the Alderman:
Dear Alderman Moore,
I am writing to you to express a significant concern I have for our community. I and many other residents are concerned about the development going on in our area. I myself am in favor of thoughtful development, but urge you and your staff to think about the long term when it comes to allowing such things as teardowns of irreplaceable historic buildings and increased density.
All around me, I have seen teardowns. In fact, I live right next door to 6922 Lakewood, where a solid brick single family home was leveled to make way for a 6 unit condominium. Down the street there are plans to teardown a single family home on Lakewood as well. The destruction of this building planned for Spring 2006 was not so troubling because it has been blighted and not well-maintained as well as being a frame home. In addition, that block is full of multi-unit buildings. There are only 2 single family homes left on that street and one more will now be gone. In my mind, the multi-unit replacement building will not mar the appearance of the street. I do hope that you request that the developer use brick and not cinder block on the sides of the building. Myself and others brought this up at the community meeting a few months ago.
More recently, I was distressed to hear that 1225 W. Farwell, a pristine greystone two-flat is going to be town down also to make way for 6 condos. I also know of two other brick and stone
two-flats that have been torn down recently: 6745 N. Clark and 1528 W. Greenleaf. All three of these buildings were solid construction and of superior quality to what is currently being built.
I would urge you to encourage development with a conscience. Let’s not destroy the character of our neighborhood as has happened in Lakeview and Ukranian Village for example. A good example of thoughtless development is what happened in Edgewater in the 1960’s. Kenmore is full of four plus one buildings and will never be what it once was. People recognized at the time that the destruction of the Higgins mansion was a tragedy but were unable to stop it. Rogers Park is recognized for its architecture, let’s keep it that way.
I object to these historic buildings being town down willy nilly, with no planning to preserve the character of our neighborhood. Many others object to the increased density this will bring as well. Rogers Park is already very densely populated. We need to thoughtfully pick and choose our developments. I would ask you to consider downzoning some areas and lots with two-flats and single family homes so that greed does not prevail here.
1225 W. Farwell could easily be converted into 2 duplexes and the adjacent lot could have a two or three flat built on it. This would be a much more appropriate option than tearing down a solid stone and brick structure that will most certainly last another 100 years if maintained. We can only hope that many of these new buildings will be around that long.
I know many share my feelings about this from my conversations with neighbors and community members. I know many people were very sad about the building next door to me (6922 N. Lakewood) and expressed regret that had they known they would have said something.
I am attaching an article on problems with cinderblock to illustrate my case. I would appreciate a response to my letter and would like to hear from you regarding where you stand on this very important issue.