In today’s news, we will look into the building in Humboldt Park that was being constructed without approval and should be restarted from the beginning. Meanwhile, US-95 south of Moscow has restarted its construction project. Furthermore, the UES co-op alleges that the proximity of the church creates an impure living situation. Moreover, in Charleston, West Virginia, work has begun on the structure that will house the Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion.
Restart Humboldt Park building development without approval
Before starting construction, stakeholders should review construction plans.
No one, faced with a Gordian knot of red tape to move a driveway a few feet, would picture someone else building a massive boxy building on park district land without a building permit or written park district consent.
After a rainfall, an ugly building appeared near the magnificent, historic, and landmarked Humboldt Park Receptory and Stable Building. No community consultation occurred. The facility is much larger and different than planned for a $750,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks Permit Review Committee did not receive plans.
The city has halted building, thankfully. Good. All stakeholders should review the genuine construction blueprints before work resumes. Stakeholders should get a better-looking building or nothing at all. Avoiding approval should not be advantageous.
“The park district has urged them to start again and generate actual architectural drawings by real professionals and go through a formal procedure to determine if it would pass muster,” Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizzary said.
This is no accident. Former Ald. Billy Ocasio is president and CEO of the highly respected National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, which is erecting the facility to supplement its space at the Humboldt Park Receptory and Stable. Ocasio should know the rules.
The procedure that permitted work to begin on a structure that looks like a depressing Soviet-era government building must be investigated. Critics argue the larger building is an event space, not an archiving repository.
Mary Lu Seidel, Preservation Chicago’s director of community engagement, said the building’s lack of approvals raises questions about its safety.
“I hope, in defence of the integrity of our parklands—and the lives and safety of visitors—they do have to knock it down,” Seidel added.
Chicagoans visiting Humboldt Park to escape the city shouldn’t see an unapproved eyesore. Parkland is also valuable.
Or don’t do it.
US-95 south of Moscow resumes construction
Original Source: Construction resumes on US-95 south of Moscow
Today, U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow began its 2023 work season. Work at Eid Road will comprise excavation on Reisenauer Hill’s north slope and erecting a rock embankment for the two new bridges. Controlled blasting is likely to restart weekly and continue through spring.
The extra lanes and two Eid Road bridges will be built in 2023 and 2024. Construction seasons usually run from April to October.
Earthwork on almost 2.5 miles of the new route was accomplished last year, bringing the project to nearly 30% completion. The project has cost almost $17 million so far.
Expanding the highway to four lanes on a new alignment will increase safety, capacity, and travel times.
Drivers should be able to use the new road in fall 2024.
The 2021 Idaho Legislature allocated $126 million of Idaho’s budget surplus to transportation projects statewide as part of Governor Brad Little’s Leading Idaho plan. The money was distributed 60/40 between ITD and local jurisdictions. ITD’s share of the funds to speed up bridge replacements, pavement repairs, and mobility improvements in Idaho pays for this project.
UES co-op alleges adjacent churches create impure living conditions
Original Source: UES co-op claims adjacent church creating an unholy living situation
Be kind. Not!
A 12-story Redeemer Presbyterian Church East Side structure and an eight-story brick co-op building are fighting on East 91st Street.
The church will be built 3 feet from co-op tenants’ windows and fire escapes.
The eight tiny studios in the co-O op’s line—with one fire-escape window opening and a smaller bathroom window—would be severely affected.
160 E. 91st St. residents are begging the church for 5 additional feet to create an 8-foot gap between the buildings.
“I don’t think 5 feet of space so we can have sufficient air and light is really too much to ask,” said co-op tenant Manny Gordon.
For community support, the co-op launched justfivefeet.com last week. The site states, “They would rather transform our apartments into gloomy, airless deathtraps than scale back their proposal a measly five feet… all so they can make their megachurch even more mega!”
The website states that “residents of these apartments could be imprisoned with no light, no ventilation, and no ability to safely leave the building in the case of a fire” under the existing plan.
24 of the 125 co-op units face the church. O-line studios have 250-square-foot main rooms. They cost $300,000.
The co-op lawyer told the church counsel that the apartments “would be rendered entirely uninhabitable.” “The Church’s good actions are cold consolation for O line residents.”
The church claims no zoning or easement restrictions apply to its East Side outpost plans. The disputed 5 feet for the proposed “worship and ministry center” occupies 10% of the 50-foot land.
The church sued the co-op because eliminating those 5 feet would increase expenditures and disrupt its plans. 150e91.com, the church’s construction-project website, says church representatives considered hundreds of sites for five years.
The church website claims Carnegie Hill “meets essential requirements for our goal of a permanent building,” including “a design concept that allows us to maximize space to suit the needs of our congregation and be accessible to the entire neighborhood.” A ground-floor “commons” will “welcome and serve our neighbors.”
The site says the church wants to “create a place that serves the greater good of the entire community.”
The co-op next door sees only ruin of their homes and investments.
As a “adjacent property,” the co-op must allow the church erect scaffolding and other safety measures during construction. The co-op is blocking. Last fall, the church sued the co-op to comply. Both parties claim the other won’t negotiate.
One affected resident is Diane Forgione. She moved into her low-floor O-line studio at 29. $100,000.
“I paid off my mortgage last year,” said executive assistant Forgione, 56. “This ruined paying off my mortgage. I thought I knew my future, but I don’t.” She would sell her unit and retire to the country.
“I didn’t get much light, but it wasn’t darkness, and if I leaned against the glass I could gaze at the sky,” Forgione added. “Now I can’t tell day from night.”
She wonders if anyone would buy a devalued apartment. She worried about fire escape.
Manny Gordon, a downstairs neighbor, had his bedroom window shaded. Gordon, a periodontist, said the bedroom will become a “prison cell—a sealed-off area, like a vault.” He owns a mid-$500,000 one-bedroom.
Gordon rallied with neighbors last week to distribute leaflets and promote a web petition.
“The church has ignored all our demands and pleas,” he claimed. I want their sympathy. It surprises me how brutal they are towards us.”
An 18-foot lightwell separated the co-op from the six-story rental building for over a century. Gordon described it as a rubbish place with air and light.
“Didn’t even come inside our building to examine what the apartments are like and how they will be affected,” said co-op board president Meena Rao. Her one-bedroom is away from construction.
“We are taking all the steps we can to safeguard our shareholders,” said Barnard College organic chemistry lab director Rao.
Residents endure construction noise and waste. The Department of Buildings webpage has multiple complaints of weekend and after-hours construction noise. Rao added, “Even Saturdays are not peaceful.”
The church bought the site three years ago for roughly $30 million. The rental building was empty by then. Demolished.
In court papers, the church’s lawyer says church representatives met with co-op representatives “as a courtesy” to preview the project. “This start meeting and amount of transparency is not normal and illustrates Redeemer’s dedication to have a constructive relationship with its neighbors,” he wrote.
The design team found “that it just was not viable to redesign the Project as requested” and yet meet the church’s “programmatic goals,” including classroom space and bathrooms.
The church claims a 5-foot reduction would be devastating. Construction often destroys city lot-line or property-line windows and views.
“Now they’re pushing us to do the things that we didn’t want to do, which is make this public, litigate it, incur the uncertainty of the litigation, and maybe endure the delay,” the church’s lawyer said in court documents.
The co-lawyer op’s replied: “The DOB was not provided the whole picture in order for them to accept the particular plans. The O line is devastated.”
Plans appear to comply with construction codes. The Fire Department deferred to the Buildings Department for comment.
According to Department of Buildings spokesperson Andrew Rudansky, the development at 150 East 91st Street is not required to offer a side yard, court, or other open space along the same lot line with 160 East 91st Street. He did not address private lawsuits.
The co-op and its former rental neighbor never signed an easement agreement to keep the open space. Easements stay with properties after sale.
Rudansky stated that the side fire escape at 160 East 91st Street was adequate and unblocked during a late January DOB inspection of the construction site and co-op building. The side fire escape sends building inhabitants to the front through a cellar passageway.
Redeemer East Side called the claims “unfair and inaccurate.”
“While definitely headline-grabbing, there is no applicable regulation that declares these units will be uninhabitable owing to lowered or insufficient light, nor do they quote any expert opinion or study.”
The representative wrote that fire-escape safety claims are unsubstantiated by legislation or professional opinion. “Redeemer’s new building meets all fire code and building separation laws.”
The co-op seeks City Councilwoman Julie Menin and Community Board 8 endorsement. Conflict continues.
“The difficulty element and the damage it’s bringing to our life is the sticking point,” Forgione added.
Charleston, West Virginia begins developing the Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion
The YWCA’s Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion began construction Tuesday.
BHE Renewables and BHE GT&S invested $100,000 to start construction, the YWCA announced.
“Help bridge the gap on issues of racism,” advises the YWCA.
“This investment in our community enables us to create a safe environment to foster vital community conversations and takes us forward in our mission to eliminate racism,” said YWCA Charleston CEO Jennifer Goddard. “BHE Foundation’s generosity helped us achieve this mission.”
YWCA says 2023 opening. 412 Elizabeth St. in Charleston will house it.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy “wholly-owns” BHE Renewables. The press release states they invest in solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro projects nationwide.
Summary of today’s construction news
Overall, we discussed before breaking ground, everyone should review the construction blueprints. After a rainfall, the beautiful, historic, and landmarked Humboldt Park Receptory and Stable Building has an ugly neighbor. No neighborhood outreach occurred. The facility’s size and design were changed despite a $750,000 funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks Permit Review Committee did not receive the plans. Thankfully, city construction has stopped.
Meanwhile, US-95 south of Moscow began building in 2023. Eid Road will dig down Reisenauer Hill’s north face and erect a retaining wall to support the two new bridges. Controlled blasting should resume weekly until April.
On the other hand, the 12-story Redeemer Presbyterian Church East Side structure and the 8-story brick co-op building are fighting on East 91st Street. The church’s construction site is three feet from co-op fire escapes and windows. The 160 E. 91st St. neighbors have requested an extra five feet from the church to create an eight-foot buffer zone.
On top of that, on Tuesday, the YWCA’s Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion began construction. BHE Renewables and BHE GT&S gave $100,000 to start the building project, the YWCA said.