WIN: Preservation-Sensitive Jefferson Park Firehouse Redevelopment Plan Survives Counter Offers

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“City officials Tuesday defended a decision to sell a former firehouse in Jefferson Park effectively for $10 and turning down an offer of $300,000 from the nearby Copernicus Foundation. The Copernicus offer never offered evidence of financing, a clear plan and a timetable for its project, said a city spokesman.

“In July, the city’s Community Development Commission agreed to sell the building at 4839 N. Lipps Ave. to an affiliate of Ambrosia Homes Development. Its proposal calls for adding one floor to the two-story brick building — vacant for about 10 years — and to convert the ground floor into a pub and restaurant for Lake Effect Brewing. The rest of the building would be turned into nine apartments.

“Ambrosia, led by Tim Pomaville, agreed to pay environmental remediation costs at the property, estimated to be worth almost its appraised price of $208,000. Hence, the stated price of the sale was $10, according to a report to the CDC. Copernicus responded when the city advertised for competing bids.

“A Copernicus board member said Tuesday he was shocked by the decision because the organization was prepared to pay $300,000 plus the remediation costs. “We’re financially prepared to do what needs to be done on this building,” Zenon Kurdziel, an architect and an owner of Ridgeland Associates, said during a news conference outside the property.

The city’s rejection letter to Copernicus, dated Tuesday, said the foundation’s proposal had numerous flaws. Signed by Project Manager James Wheaton of the Housing Department, it said the group’s budget did not include a purchase price or “a projected cost for remediation of lead-based paint and asbestos that is approximately 40% of the actual cost of remediation.”

For similar reasons, the city also rejected an offer from Local 58 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. A spokesman said the union’s offer was for $1. (Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times)

The revised redevelopment plans for the historic Jefferson Park Firehouse embrace the building’s history, character and authenticity. Preservation Chicago believes that embracing the historic character will not add materially to the project costs, but it will contribute significantly to the success of the micro-brewery once the building is open.

The Northwest Chicago Historical Society and Preservation Chicago encourages ownership and City of Chicago to seek a Chicago Landmark Designation for the building. This could be considered as an individual landmark or as an extension of the thematic Chicago Fire House Landmark District.

Preservation Chicago applauds current 45th Ward Alderman James M. Gardiner for his support. We also applaud Ambrosia Homes and Lake Effect Brewing for listening to the community, integrating the comments and changing the trajectory of the development. A special thanks to the dedicated and outstanding advocacy of the Northwest Chicago Historical Society, Susanna Ernst, Frank Suerth, and Jacob Kaplan.

Read the full story at Chicago Sun-Times

City defends taking $10 offer for Northwest Side firehouse: Copernicus Foundation said it offered $300,000 for the Jefferson Park building, but city insists the group’s plan lacked financing and details, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/15/20

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