Owner seeks zoning support for 1744 Augusta


Property owner Jim Boatman is planning renovations at 1744 W. Augusta that brought him to the East Village Association board Monday. Ald. Manuel Flores asked that EVA review his request for a zoning change.

The project involves an apartment that does not fit current zoning code. Since the unit may predate the zoning code itself, the board asked Boatman to research whether it would qualify for an exemption. If keeping the apartment requires a code change, EVA membership likely will be asked for a vote in January.

Boatman described the project in an e-mail forwarded to board members Nov. 5 from vice president Greg Nagel, who describes Boatman as a friend:

"I recently purchased the building at 1744 W. Augusta in the 1st Ward. I have spent a good deal of time in the East Village area and am interested very much in improving the area and plan to move into 1744 upon the completion of the renovation. The building had been neglected and run down for some time with numerous building violations and was in the pre-foreclosure process. I plan to do a 'green' gut rehab transforming this 100+ year old building into a clean, attractive, and well maintained
apartments.

"I am also interested in implementing a number of construction ideas I first learned at the recent Chicago Green Building seminar hosted by Alderman Flores. As this is a gut rehab, I have the opportunity to completely redo the energy systems and plan to seek the highest level of energy efficiency.

"Specifically, I am requesting an upzoing from RT4 to RT-4.5 in order to make the fourth unit legal non-conforming. If I were to receive support from the East Village, the aldermen and then ultimately the Zoning Board I would use this zoning solely to get a permit to renovate the 4th unit and would not take this zoning change and do anything dramatic like adding to the building height and would happily accept caveats this effect. Upon the completion of the renovation, I would then downzone the property back to RT4 so that the fourth unit is legal but non-conforming and the zoning for the neighborhood would remain consistent.

"I know in evaluating this request you not only have to consider this specific situation but you also have to consider precedence for the entire neighborhood. In conversation with Alderman Flores he pointed out that one of the factors that makes this specific situation different is that I had not contributed in any way to the overbuilding of this structure and simply had inherited a fourth unit that had been run illegally. This building was overbuilt by the previous owner and the illegal fourth unit had been in existence for over fifteen years.

"While other owners would perhaps just continue this practice, I prefer to engage the community to get their permission to change the zoning to make this fourth unit legal-non-conforming. This will allow me to properly enhance the building in an environmentally friendly way and in full compliance with all Chicago building codes. I feel that the end result will be the refurbishment of a 100 year old building that will gain green energy savings components, and a fourth living unit that fully complies with all City of Chicago buildings codes.

"This building will be well managed and maintained and will be occupied by myself. I am interested in doing the right thing morally which will in turn help the East Village community, the environment, future tenants, and even property values, thus resulting in an across-the-board pro community proposal.

"I appreciate very much your time in evaluating this proposal and look forward to taking an active role in the neighborhood and future community projects."

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