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Lerner asks close to $1.8 million for historic 2119 W. LeMoyne in Wicker Park
At the July 9 meeting of the Chicago Landmark's Permit Review Committee (PRC), Michael Lerner's MCZ Development company, under the name of Lemoyne Acquisitions, lost their second attempt to get approval to build a two-and-a-half story building on an historic Side Yard at 2117 W. LeMoyne, next to a 1897 building at 2119 W. LeMoyne. On Aug. 18, the property went on the market for $1,799,000.
Lerner bought the property on Oct. 17, 2013, for $1.2 million.
"It appears that the attempt to develop the Side Yard has disappeared with the listing of the property," said Ed Tamminga, Chairman of the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) Preservation and Development Committee (P&D), upon hearing the news. "Speaking on behalf of P&D, I'm happy to see the development threat go away for the time being and we will continue to be vigilant with the new players."
Lerner's group claimed that the Side Yard was buildable, but the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) Preservation and Development Committee (P&D) rejected the proposal. Chicago Landmarks Commission Staff, however, agreed with the developer.
At the Chicago Landmark's Permit Review Committee (PRC) meeting in April, testimony from 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago, and a long list of community residents resulted in a tie of the PRC. Thus, the proposal didn't pass.
The developer presented the proposal again at the July 9 PRC meeting. Many people, once again, spoke out in opposition to building on the Side Yard. They cited many points and used the 1989 words of David R. Mosena, the then Commissioner of the Department of Planning. He wrote about Wicker Park in his Report To the Commission on Chicago Landmarks saying, "This 55 acre district has 614 structures of these 68 are located on the rear of the lots. It is a pattern that contributes to the ambience of this special neighborhood. Another characteristic is the district's open spaces. With 110 vacant lots, 46 have been merged into well landscaped side yards. The District's tight urban scale has gained visual relief from the excellence of its landscaped side and front yards.
"The design of recent new housing has mostly been sensitive to the district's architectural character. With this designation, the remaining 64 vacant lots will have the benefit and guidance of the Commission's criteria for new building. This direct benefit will ensure design compatibility for the entire district."
When the PRC took a vote, it was once again split 2-2. At that point Commissioner James Houlihan suggested that the project be taken to the full Commission. That was not agreed to and after private discussions with an attorney, Houlihan withdrew his vote. Ernie Wong, PRC Chair, entertained a new motion for the project, Houlihan abstained and the final vote was 2-1, thus defeated.