June 29, 2006

Island Groove - The Meeting

The meeting opened with Joe speaking very loudly. Apparently there was no microphone set up for this meeting. I’m not sure I’ve been to one of his meetings that didn’t have a mic. But we learned that the alderman’s opinion carries a lot of weight with the zoning board and the liquor commission. Of course, Joe is a pro at projecting his voice at public meetings. Both Mike C and Mike B are very soft-spoken men, so it was a detriment to the meeting that not everyone packed into the room could hear them.

They gave a powerpoint presentation outlining their proposed business and some highlights answered the questions before they were asked:

They’ve put up $50k of their personal investments/savings.
They’ve been in contact with Cmdr. Rottner regarding security issues
They predict 60% of their clientele to be local i.e. non-drivers and 40% to be drivers.
Their lease is for one year with the option to renew for 2 or 3, they are not leasing the second floor.
The percentage of food sales is expected to be 30-40% and the rest liquor sales.
The cuisine to be offered will be both Caribbean and American. Several chafing dishes were set up with samples of their menu offerings.
The music venue will be blues and jazz.
The target audience – 35 and older.
Advertising to be done locally.

Another disadvantage was the lack of consideration for some who were speaking pro and con to the plan and allowing responses to be heard.

One gentleman claiming to have been in the restaurant business for 30 some years declared that their kitchen area was illegal. According to Bell, it has passed city inspections. So the gentleman bounded back with restaurant lingo about exhaust and venting to which the response was ‘it’s vented but we can’t do grease cooking’. Sorry folks, no fried foods here.

Another asked what happened to the condo’s that were to be built on that corner to which Joe responded the deal fell through in the negotiation stage. Several long time neighbors expressed their concern, not at Bell and Cherrington, but the landlord who did not attend, and was not invited to attend. Sargon was labeled an irresponsible landlord, which had already been established. Another resident discussed the number of drug deals going on in the alley behind the location and the whole neighborhood.

The highlight was a senior gentleman from Eastlake Terrace who gave everyone his version of the history from the area being voted dry (Joe responded) to three people drowning in Lake Michigan because they had one too many at Biddy’s. His wife was sitting behind us and claimed it didn’t happen! So we need a historical researcher for that one.

Naturally, there are concerns. The negative history lends to instant panic buttons, as does the history of Sargon. The repeated chorus of 140 drunks leaving at 2:00AM…..the thought that Northwestern students liking blues and jazz will invade the neighborhood and pee everywhere, park in the senior from Eastlake’s spot...the list goes on and are valid concerns.

One gentleman of Caribbean descent, a business owner on Howard, spoke to the reality that this is a ‘diverse neighborhood’ but people of his culture hold their events in the suburbs. He urged the group to consider bringing the diversity word into the changes we need to help this neighborhood thrive.

Parking – is always an issue. Yet at every meeting, especially the Pivot Point, Plan B had already been figured out. Park in the CTA garage. Yet until tonight, no one had worked on a Plan B for parking to alleviate that stress point. Another neighbor inquired if there was still a garage on Howard across from the Lakeside Café and could a deal be worked out there!

A show of hands revealed 38 or 39 yeas and 37 nays. (It seemed there were more yea hands in the air to me,) Now perhaps Joe and Mike and Mike can really sit down and do some proper planning, modifications if necessary and possibly this little neighborhood could have a change in history. One woman remarked to the positive change the new Morseland has given that street. When the argument was brought up that Sheridan is a residential area, one resident reminded everyone that the Morseland is in a residential area, next to a senior residence and there have been no problems. It's all about proper management.

Island Groove, from what I could hear tonight, is open at 11AM on weekends with various breakfast items and FREE coffee. Be fair to yourself, to the neighborhood, and to these two Mike’s – stop in and meet them.

Now if all these people would get out and WALK with us on various nights, this hood would really groove!


Hugh said...

> Another [gentleman] asked what happened to the condo’s that were to be built on that corner
> to which
> Joe responded the deal fell through in the negotiation stage.

The deal fell through AFTER Moore and zoning attorney and Moore campaign contributor JJ Banks marshlled a zoning change (a planned development) through the Plan Commission, Zoning Committee, and full City Council approval.

12/17/2004 Beachview Development Inc deeds the property (7640 N Sheridan, PIN 11-29-107-011) over to a trust. The transaction is not recorded with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

4/6/05 JJ Banks, the most successful lawyer in the history of Chicago, introduces an application for a planned development, claiming Beachview Development Inc is applicant and the owners. The application is refered to JJ's uncle's Zoning Committee.

We Chicagoans have a right to know who we are changing our laws for. Our City's ethics laws require anyone seeking action from the Chicago City Council to file an "Economic Disclosure Statement" (EDS). Further, the applicant is required to immediately notify the City of any changes in the EDS.

Mayor Daley's executive orders require internet posting of these disclosures.

City of Chicago Vendor, Contract, and Payment Search

This was not done.

6/16/05 Chicago Plan Commission approves the planned development.

7/8/05 The trust sells the property to Rogers I, LLC for $850K. The transaction is not recorded.

7/8/05 Rogers I, LLC borrows $715K from Sargon Isaac secured by the property. The transaction is not recorded.

7/14/06 Planned development for Beachview Development approved by the Zoning Committee.

7/27/05 Planned development approved by the full City Council, unanimously, of course, including Moore. Uncle Bill recused himself. The planned development is highly unusual in that it does not name the developer.

Reclassification Of Area Shown On Map Number 19-G.(Application Number 14899)

8/1/05 The transfers of the property from Beachview Development Inc. to the trust, the transfer of the property from the trust to Rogers I LLC, and the loan from Isaac are finally recorded with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

There is not supposed to BE a "negotiation phase" after a planned development is approved. A planned development is supposed to be a binding contract between the citizens of Chciago and a particular developer to build a very specific project. The real estate development boom in Chicago and the purchase of our local government by real estate development interests has resulted in the hijacking of our planned development process to create a new market niche for developers who don't actually build anything, but they know how to work the system, spread cash around, and get zoning changes, then they sell the project.

This project was an utter waste of time and public resources and completely avoidable. Our local elected officials permit this kind of thing to happen by giving their developer pals a free pass on our hard-fought disclosure laws.

Thomas Westgard said...

The six failings of the Joe Moore Infomercial are an established fact at this point. If you go through my list, you can see how each item got its due at this meeting. I'm not even going to argue it - just read them and they'll persuade you themselves.

James Ginderske said...


I was especially concerned with Moore's intentional exclusion of opposition candidates prior to the "vote". This was a craven abuse of the forum he chose to use to discuss this project.

These public meetings, and the flyering for them are allegedly held to notify the public and garner information. Purposeful exclusion of only political opponent's reasonable comments makes it appear that they are also Moore campaign events. Moore's name covering the top third of his flyers has the same effect.

Contrast that with ours for the same meeting, which had my name smallest and at the bottom.

I stated that I would accept no campaign contributions from anyone involved in this process. I challenged the other candidates, including the incumbent to agree to this.

That would be a great first step toward an open and accountable zoning process.

mclnoh said...

James Ginderske said, "That would be a great first step toward an open and accountable zoning process." Wouldn't that be a refreshing 'new' approach in the 49th Ward?

Julie said...

So what is the issue - the permit needed to have live music and liquor?

Hugh said...

> So what is the issue

Bar or no bar is an issue for the immediate neighbors.

Speaking for myself, the issue is Moore's inept project management. I'm hung up on Moore's public announcement for the first time that the Rogers & Sheridan project is dead.

This is at least the 2nd planned development Moore pushed through community meetings, his ZALUAC, the Plan Commission, City Council committees, and the full City Council, only to have it fall apart. The other obvious recent example is the deal with Terzakis at Howard and Ashland. AFTER pushing through a planned development for Terzakis, Moore is now pursuing eminent domain against his former partner. Having these deals fall through AFTER the approval process is a monumental waste of a lot or people's time and money.

If one deal falls through, ok, maybe developers are slimy. Once it becomes a pattern, it raises questions about the caliber of people Moore is partnering with on our behalf. Recall in addition to the Sargon Isaacs and Terzakis non-deals, Moore partnered with a convicted felon arsonist landlord for a zoning change north of Howard and with a dead-beat dad in the demolition of the Adelphi.

The North of Howard community gets screwed.

franscud said...

This is really interesting to me, and I'd like to get a few more details about the "niche market" Hugh describes.

If I understand it correctly, developers propose zoning changes with no intention of actually following through on the projects connected to them. They do this because they have the connections/influence to push the changes through and then they can sell off the projects proposed to other less-connected (or less reputable) developers.

In such cases, the aldermen and other government officials act as willing stooges in allowing the developers to game the system.

Is that how it works?

Is there anything the public can do, other than voting out the officials, to challenge these shennanigans and force them to follow disclosure laws?

Rogers Park Taxpayer said...

Open letter to Zoning Commissioner

7601 North Eastlake Terrace
Chicago, Illinois 60626

July 12, 2006

Application for Zoning Variance
7644 North Sheridan Drive
Case No. 270-06-S

Mr. Brian L. Crowe
Zoning Board of Appeals
121 North LaSalle Street
Room 905
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Dear Mr. Crowe,

I am the owner of eleven (11) apartment buildings on Eastlake Terrace.

My company, Lee Street Management, is easily the largest property owner-manager in the immediate area. Our buildings contain 183 dwelling units and we manage over 350 tenants. All of our apartments are within 1000 feet of 7644 North Sheridan Road and would be directly affected by the proposed variance.

For your convenience, a spreadsheet of our holdings is attached to this letter.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the public hearing to be held Friday evening, July 21, 2006, as I will be out of the country on business. However, my sentiments on the matter are very strong and I wish by this letter, to have them considered and read into the record.

It is with great enthusiasm that I offer my wholehearted support for a zoning variance.

This project will bring a new vitality, diversity and culture to our neighborhood that is desperately needed. It will cure the blight we have endured at that location for nearly a decade. I have no doubt that all of my properties will be greatly enhanced by this wonderful new commercial entertainment venture.

I hope the Board will do what it can to consider my vote as though it were eleven separate votes, i.e, as if it were individual votes coming from eleven separate property owners.

Best Regards,

Michael Lee, President
Lee Street Management Co.