...And That's My Opinion©

By Sandy Goldman

The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon


The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Hark! Hark! The Fire Station on Clark

 At a meeting of the Alderman’s Zoning and Land Use committee on Tuesday night Feb 13th I was almost convinced!!  Mr. John Lanon, a planner for the city, expertly presented two plans for the fire station to be constructed on the 7200 block of Clark Street. Plan A would require razing the present Mega Mall. Plan B would be situated north of the Mall and would include the empty Super Mercado Cardenas and properties north to Rogers Ave. He indicated that the traffic patterns would be “close neutral” meaning both sites are the same traffic wise. Both sites would be the same size.

 At first glance that seemed an equitable solution. This almost had me convinced.  But then, after sleeping on it and reading my notes, there are some second thoughts:

 --No evidence of the “close neutral” traffic patterns was presented. I think that we need to see more city traffic department studies on this issue.

 --The city planner said that Plan A requires negotiation with only one owner and might take about one year. Plan B would have to deal with four property owners, one of whom is out of the country, and eight additional businesses. Acquisition negotiations might take two to three years.

 --The real issue for the Rogers Park Community Action Network (RPCAN) and others who have riled up the merchants and the media is the threat (as they see it and perhaps as the Alderman sees it) of possible gentrification – the dreaded G word. I would ask the leadership of these organizations what their position would be if the property was sold and used for low-income housing. What then would happen to the merchants? Answer:  nothing different!

 --According to a representative of the Mega Mall merchants, each vendor pays  $180.00 per week for a 12’ X 8’ (96 square feet) stall. They may rent as many stalls as they need. There are approximately 200 stalls.  According to this representative, the mall is 65% occupied (130 stalls). There was no representative from Mr. Park the property owner. This much, however can be deduced.  Mr. Park and his associates, if there are any, probably grosses at the present time, about $1,216,800 from rents. At full capacity the gross could be as high as $1,800.000.  I do not have any knowledge of the expenses or any idea of net revenue. Sources tell me that the property is worth much more than even the full capacity gross revenue. Invested proceeds from a sale would earn more than the proceeds from rental income.

 Eventually, the vendors of the Mega Mall are going to be displaced by economic reality! 

 --All of this reminds me of a similar, but not exact situation some years ago at an ice cream parlor located at Irving Park Rd and Crawford(Pulaski) Ave. Shell Oil Company wished to raze the venerable historic Buffalo Ice Cream Parlor. It was an “institution” to which generations of north side residents took their children and then their grandchildren .The community gathered together and rose up in unison; pickets surrounded the area (as they did at the Alderman’s meeting); newspapers wrote editorials (as they have in this issue);”SAVE THE BUFFALO” became a rallying cry; the gas station would destroy the neighbor character. Soon Shell Oil backed out. A few years later Shell Oil made the owners an offer they couldn’t refuse and the Buffalo Ice Cream Parlor was history!!

 --Someone, some day, probably sooner than later, will send Mr. Park an offer he can’t refuse and the Mega Mall will be history!! Who knows what will be in its place? Commercial, residential, light manufacturing?

 --We have the opportunity NOW to control the destiny of this property and to insure an up-to-date, state-of-the-art, fire station, sooner rather then later.

 --What about the merchants - a good question. I will leave that subject to DevCorp North, the Alderman’s economic arm. That is their job. I’m sure that they should and can do it. I’m also sure that Alderman Joe Moore will help them secure the $10,000 or actual relocation expenses per vendor that will be provided should the city acquire the property.

 The fact is that the Alderman ‘s committee voted and endorsed Plan A that puts the fire station at the Mega Mall site. The Alderman, however, is not bound by their decision! He is, I am told, leaning strongly towards Plan B.  Because of conflicting schedules the Alderman and I played telephone tag for several days but were not able to make contact.   I was unable to verify this information with him directly.  It is however, information which has come to me from several sources.

 Let everyone who supports Plan A, keep Alderman Joe Moore’s feet to the fire, lest, for whatever reason, he kneels down in the wrong direction.  Calls to the Mayor’s office will help. Call at 311 and ask to make a citizens’ comment or post an e-mail to MayorDaley@CityofChicago.org or click on the Mayor’s page of www.cityofchicago.org and use the write-to-the Mayor option. Alderman Moore’s e-mail is aldmoore@aol.com

 Everything we do has a ripple effect !!! 

 ...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

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