Some topics aren’t enough for a whole column, yet there are updates. So here goes.
Back in February, a lawsuit was filed by Park Towers homeowners seeking to undo the city council’s approval of the Reverchon Park RFP. On March 16, the city responded claiming immunity from – pretty much everything. On March 3, the court moved to dismiss the suit on April 10 unless an answer had been filed. It was. On March 26, the court set a non-jury trial for February 2, 2021 (yes, next year). Between now and then, there will be various filings and discovery actions. And who knows — even though county courts remain open, there may yet be COVID-19 delays.
Reverchon Fundraising Takes a Bunt
I find this interesting for two reasons. First, lawsuits certainly crimp most organizations ability to raise funds – who wants “in” in a possible lost cause? Secondly, the RFP has specific performance dates attached to it – proof of funds, community meetings, design, begin construction, etc.. Between a February trial and our current lockdown, none of those dates will likely be made. I sent a note to Park and Recreation Board president Calvert Collins-Bratton asking if any new dates had been approved. She responded, “Not that I’ve heard. A lot of timelines have shifted for Park projects and meetings.”
Before you get excited that missing dates is grounds for killing the RFP, it’s not. Apparently it’s well within the city’s purview to grant extended timelines. And since the city was so hot for this project, look for timeline extensions to be passed out with joyful abandon.
Preston Tower’s Piano Lawsuit
Back in November, we reported on a lawsuit filed by a former Preston Tower owner after the HOA moved a former owner’s Steinway Model D Concert Grand piano without permission. Of course, the piano was damaged in the move and apparently hidden away from the owner for a period of time. It was all very WTF. One apparent Preston Tower resident commented on that story that in the prior six years, Preston Tower had been sued six times and lost six times.
Since that story, there’s been a bit of back-and-forth that resulted in WD Piano Movers suing their insurance company (The Burlington Insurance Company) who sent a denial of coverage letter “to avoid a default judgement.” WD Movers is seeking “monetary relief of less than $100,000 and non-monetary relief.” As of April 16, 2020, Burlington had not responded to the new suit being filed.
Sounds like something’s going to hit the fan here, but when that will be, I can’t (obviously) say. But from court documents, it doesn’t appear that WD Piano Movers, Preston Tower HOA, ICI Management, nor American Eagle Elevator are off the hook.
Some Airbnbs a No-No in PD-193
As you can see above, PD-193 covers 2,617 acres essentially bound by Woodall Rogers, Central Expressway, Harry Hines, Inwood Road, and where that abuts Highland Park. As I was having a casual flick through the 176-page ordinance, I noticed this on the very last page, the very last paragraph:
SEC. 51P-193.134. BED AND BREAKFAST PROHIBITION.
The rental of five or fewer guest rooms or suites that are separately rented to persons who are unrelated to the primary occupants of the dwelling unit for 14 or less consecutive days is prohibited in single-family and duplex subdistricts. (Ord. Nos. 21859; 25267)
Based on that wording, renting a room for 14-days or less is prohibited in PD-193 which seems problematic for those 15 dots on the map above who are renting individual rooms within a larger home.
Until the city’s granny flat ordinance in June 2018, renting a second dwelling on a single family lot was similarly illegal (however pre-1945, two units were allowed, after, two were still allowed but you couldn’t collect rent).
Pushing further, PD-193’s ordinance defines a “Hotel or Motel” as “A building containing one or more guest rooms, and furnishing customary hotel services such as linen, maid service, and the use and upkeep of furniture.” which are only allowed “By right in O-2, SC*, GR*, LC*, HC*, central area, and industrial* subdistricts. *SUP required in SC, GR, LC, HC, and industrial subdistricts if the hotel or motel has fewer than 80 guest rooms.”
Is a single-family home being rented by the night considered a hotel? If so, that’s probably news to the 17 whole houses offered on Airbnb within PD-193.
Starbucks Continues to Annoy
In February, we reported on the new Starbucks at Oak Lawn and Congress and how the problems it was generating were exactly as foretold. The building has printed “Right Turn Only” on the exit, but little else has changed. In addition to creating a more dangerous intersection with illegal turns, most rush hours feature Congress Avenue being blocked by those desperate for caffeine. It’s nice to see the city is doing its job enforcing development plans.
The question remains — why aren’t police officers stationed outside these known public nuisances writing tickets? Surely they’re a missed profit center for city coffers and would earn praise from the decaffeinated trying to get through an intersection.