Thursday, June 21, 2007

Vacant buildings

Vacant buildings can create problems that become everyone's business. Squatters, prostitutes and drug dealers love 'em. Burglars sometimes use them to gain easier entry to occupied buildings next door.

Back in 2000, the city council passed an ordinance requiring owners of vacant buildings to insure their properties (minimum $300K liability coverage per residential buiding and $1M per commercial/industrial building) and register the vacant status of each building with the city within 30 days after the building is vacated.

In the press release announcing the ordinance, the building commissioner acknowledged the health and safety hazards that vacant buildings can pose to the community as well as firefighters and police. The ordinance was intended to offer some protection for owners of properties adjacent to vacant buildings. The penalty for non-compliance with the ordinance could run $200-1,000 per day per offense.

Here's a link for the City of Chicago Vacant Building Registry.

If a building that you know is vacant is not on this list, please call it in to 311 and ask for the tracking number. Call the ward office, too.

Guess what, folks? 1640-42 Fargo is on the list, but 1626-30 Fargo is not, although the Cook County Assessor lists property tax appeals for both properties based upon vacant status. I've got a phone call to make.


Fargo Woman said...

How do we find out if the owners have taken out the proper insurance? I would like to follow this up, if possible. I live on the block with both of the buildings you mentioned. I called 311 on them and got the tracking numbers. Here's the information, in case anyone is interested (note: this is old news to anyone who reads the "Broken Heart of Morse Ave." blog):

1626-30 W. Fargo: Tracking number 0701061805 The building has been vacant for over a year. The front doors are padlocked. The first floor balconies, on the front of the building, are relatively easily accessible and have windows and doors. Vegetation is overgrown and, when combined with the padlocks on the two front entrances, confirm to anyone interested that the building is vacant and unattended.

1640-42 W. Fargo: Tracking number 0701061791 This building has been vacant for over two years. The front door is boarded up and a zoning notice has been posted there for quite some time. Evidently, that notice has been replaced over time because I've seen one posted there for most of the two years yet when I read it last night the date on it is December 28, 2006. The File Number on the zoning notice is 573-Z and goes on to say that an application was filed by Geo. Samotin with further information available through J. Pirarski at (312) 782-9351 (or 57 - the writing is very faded). Posted on top of the zoning notice is an orange notice of Water Service Termination from the City of Chicago dated 06-08-2007 stating $1,560.83 is due. This building also has easily accessible front balconies with widows and doors in each of them. In addition to the overgrown foliage, the sidewalk is broken and pitted. I took a nasty fall there just two or three weeks ago. I'm OK, praise God, but someone else might not be so blessed.

I also called the Alderman's office and spoke to Ann Sullivan. She said Mike Land would talk to the owners. Sure enough, the lawn had been mowed in front of 1640-42 and debris had been picked up. Nothing, however, has been done with the other building. I'm hoping that other readers will also call 311 asking about the progress made on those buildings using those tracking numbers. Perhaps if enough people call, they will get moving a little faster . . .

Fargo Woman said...

By the way, I just went to the registry and noticed that 1640's registration expired on 2/22/07 so it is officially 4 months overdue. Also the 7441 (the deserted ivy covered building with the incredibly overgrown front yard) is not on the registry either. What is up with this? I'm with you on the one. I'm going to call 311 in the morning too. - PEACE -