Thursday, October 20, 2005

2-flat saved from demolition!

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.

Best regards,

Jocelyn Meyer


Greg said...

WELL!!! It doesn’t get much better than that. You made a difference. I couldn’t be happier for you or the entire city of Chicago. Really great news. Congratulations!

Hopefully someday I will make to Chicago and get to see that and many other great architectural treasures.

SmilingJudy said...

Way to go! :)

Mike said...

Wonderful! I've been thinking about that place since your earlier post. It's nice to see the good guys come out ahead.

Greg said...

Congrats! Way to go!

Ms. P in Jackson said...

Excellent news! It's nice to know that concerned citizens can make a difference in what could have started an ugly landslide. Really great work Jocelyn.

K said...

Hurray! Hurray! Good for you, Jocelyn! It is unfortunate that something couldn't be done about the house next door to you, but at least others will be saved now!

Jocelyn said...

Thanks guys- I am very happy. We can't go back, but we can protect what we have going forward and I intend to.

Greg- if you make it here- we MUST have a houseblogger party and I volunteer right now to host it!

Anonymous said...

i'm soooo glad i don't live next to you commies. i certainly wouldn't sit down while a bunch of people who have nothing better to do decide what is "good" and what is "bad." oh well.

Jocelyn said...

Nothing better to do than have a vision and work towards it -for a better neighborhood/community and preservation of beautiful architecture and quality of life issues -that's right. What do you stand for and work towards anonymous?

Greg said...

A house blogging party sounds like fun. How is Chicago in the spring time?

Why is it these days when you speak up for something that you feel is right and in the best interest of the community you are labeled a "commie"? When did becoming a conscientious part of a community become a crime in this country? Should we all just reside in our homes behind steel bars with a gun in our lap? Is that what is best for this country?

Jocelyn said...

Late spring is better definitely.

If that person thinks we're commies, they definitely wouldn't want to live in my neighborhood- lots of activists around these parts.

jm@houseinprogress said...

Whoo! Go Jocelyn!

And, um, anonymous. I think we are the opposite of commies here in Chicago. If you have ever traveled to Russia or China, you would see that the Communists were pretty fond of tearing down perfectly useful, habitable and lovely old buildings to line the pockets of people in power. Quite ugly--these newer buildings--and drafty and dirty and harder to maintain. Pretty sad how it has altered, not just the "look" of the place, but the communities which once dwelt there. In Beijing, whole neighborhoods are being moved to the "suburbs" into ugly and poorly built highrises while old neighborhoods are being razed to accomodate the building going on for the Olympics. In this communist country, there is nothing the citizens can do about it. UNLIKE here in the good ol' USA where democracy reigns (sometimes) and citizens get a say in how their communities are shaped. Being "anti-irresponsibility" and "pro-community" is far, FAR from communism. We are supposed to be a democracy, not an industrial state. So I think you need to go back to school and re-take some classes in civics and politics. Because you certainly have no idea what you are talking about.

(Sorry for the rant in the comments, Jocelyn. Couldn't help myself.)

Anonymous said...

go you!!!
congratulations are better late than never.
enjoying you and your saga.

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