Dear WCA Members

Dear WCA Member,

All WCA members are receiving this same notification prompted by the decision of West Loop Community Organization (WLCO) to write to Alderman Burnett formally withdrawing its support for the rezoning of 111 South Peoria Street.

DNAInfo has a comprehensive article here.

We request you ask WCA to also withdraw its support for the proposed rezoning. We all can agree that WLCO’s concern about LG’s unwillingness to follow through with its promises, there are many other issues we would like to outline.

WCA approves developments through a Board and Development Committee with a number of members who are non-residents or real estate professionals. For example, Mike Ezgur who is a lawyer representing LG lives in the north suburbs, and yet he is a member of both the Development Committee and the Board. As a delegate agency paid by the city and part of the official zoning review process, we believe WCA improperly refused to allow opponents to the project equal time to present their many concerns to the WCA Board and its Development Committee, especially in light of the Board’s many potential conflicts. As a WCA member, we urge that you demand better of your leadership.

The community has completely and overwhelmingly rejected this building twice. WCA is the only community group to publicly support this project in writing. WLCO has formally renounced its support. Although often ridiculing local residents who oppose a building, the Architecture Blog accurately reported the residents’ August 3rd opposition to the building that Alderman Burnett ultimately supported based on WCA’s endorsement:

WCA members are the only ones who can reach their board and ensure proper care is taken to protect their neighbors and community as a whole :

  • Leo Cox, a fire safety expert and former Battalion Commander with 34 years’ of experience in the Chicago Fire Department has stated (in writing) the design of the proposed development at 111 S. Peoria would pose a fire safety hazard to residents of Monroe Manor and to firefighters. The most recent proposed design that the residents of Monroe Manor have been able to review exposed a potentially life threatening danger. We don’t know whether WCA, as a delegate agency, has any liability for future harm that may result from its support for the building with this possible safety risk, particularly in light of its Board’s refusal to consider the facts offered by the neighbors of the proposed building. We do know that IF the City Council approves the rezoning based on one man’s decision under Chicago’s unique zoning process of “Aldermanic Privilege,” at the very least WCA’s official support for the rezoning is likely to embroil it in any future litigation over whether the neighbors received due process of law.

  • Over 1,110 signatures from community members have been obtained in opposition to this proposal.

  • The proposal was rejected during two community meetings (on June 3rd and August 10th) were attended by over 500 people.

    • This type of community participation is unprecedented and highlights the broad community opposition.

  • The building will permanently diminish Mary Bartelme Park and its construction will place children at the playground directly across from the building at risk. WCA refused to even consider a privately-funded, public community center as an alternative to the proposed building.

    • The building will permanently eliminate 120 public parking spaces harming the Park, Merit School of Music and merchants in the surrounding area.

  • The developer’s lawyer asserted that the neighbors to the proposed building have NO right to air and light, which is inconsistent with the explicit purposes of the zoning laws!

We ask that you stand with West Loop residents by doing the following today:

Your response as a West Loop business owner matters to your community. We hope that you will publicly stand with West Loop residents (your customers) and remind the WCA Board that the residents and businesses of the West Loop have common interests they should work together to promote.

You can learn the facts, see the proposed community center and follow the opposition to 111 South Peoria Street.

Thank you for your consideration.

The Neighbors Of 111 S. Peoria

WLCO Pulls Support for 111 S. Peoria Development

West Loop fire hazard
111 S. Peoria a fire hazard

WEST LOOP — An influential neighborhood group has pulled its support for a controversial condo development planned near Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop.

In a change of course, the West Loop Community Organization has informed the area’s alderman that it is no longer supporting the nine-story plus penthouse building at 111 S. Peoria St.

LG Development is seeking a zoning change that would allow the firm to build the tower, which would include 95 condominiums on a site that now houses a parking lot.

Both the West Central Association and West Loop Community Organization supported the project. But late last month, WLCO issued a new letter saying that the group could not support the project.

When LG Development presented an updated plan to the community in August, the facade of the building had been significantly redesigned without input from WLCO’s development committee, Agostinelli said. The group’s board requested a meeting with the developer, and on Sept. 1, the developer agreed to make a series of changes to the plan and submit new renderings to WLCO that reflected those changes, according to Agostinelli.

Despite the agreement, the developer submitted an unchanged plan to the city’s Plan Commission on Sept. 24, Agostinelli said.

“Therefore WLCO is unable to recommend the project at 111 S. Peoria,” she wrote to Burnett. “It’s unfortunate that we aren’t able to recommend the project at this time because of their lack of response to us.”

The West Loop Residents Association and others opposed to the project have hired an attorney to fight the project.

Alternative community center plan

In an effort to offer an alternative to the developer’s plan, a group of neighbors pitched a two-story community center to the alderman in August, contending that the center would be a better fit for the neighborhood.

Burnett ultimately said he could not consider the plan because the group had not contacted the property’s owner. Cacciatore, president of the group that currently owns the 111 S. Peoria site, confirmed in a letter that neighbors pushing the community center plan had not reached out to him.

The community center plan, developed by the West Loop Residents Association and other neighbors, would be privately financed through fundraising. Neighbor Richard Dees said he secured a $2 million commitment to the project that would be used to purchase the property.

Alderman Walter Burnett reminded neighbors that he doesn’t make decisions on new development based on how it will affect other residents’ existing views. No one has “a right” to a view, he said.

“I can tell when there’s a lot of B.S. going on and people are really talking about views,” Alderman Walter Burnett said.

As of August, LG Development did not own the Peoria lot, but did have a contract with the property’s owner Peter Cacciatore to buy the property for $6.25 million. The sale is contingent on a zoning change that would allow for their condo proposal to be developed at the site, according to partner Brian Goldberg.

Read the full story here