Thursday, June 10, 2010
Pictured above is a condominium at 6212 N North Winthrop I wrote about back in 2008, and it looks like the property has only gone downhill since. This building is a newly-constructed condo with 8 units originally offered at $550,000-$600,000 each, and which has gone through many ownerships. See current snapshot of ownership, above.
In this block are many charming old corridor buildings and a number of "four-plus-one" buildings, all offering cheap rentals, yet these places are beautifully landscaped and well-maintained. 6212, on the other hand,, is gleaming new construction with large, new high-rent apartments, yet it looks seedier every time I walk past it. The weeds are nearly a foot high in the pocket front lawn and on the parkway, where there is also a hole about a foot across and a foot deep, covered only by a barricade lying on its side. There is trash everywhere- on the little lawn, the walk, the parkway, and stuffed, along with piles of last fall's fallen leaves, between the pickets of the wrought-iron perimeter fence.
I was strolling down Winthrop late this afternoon, and was freshly shocked at the appearance of the place. In the course of snapping pictures to document the wretched appearance of the property, I was intercepted by a white male who appeared to be about in his forties, who double-parked his SUV in front of the place, jumped out, and demanded to know what I was doing.
"Are you the owner of this place?" I asked, indicating the building with my hand.
"Yes! I'm the owner!" he exclaimed, puffing his chest out and staring me intently in his "aggressive display" stance.
"Do you realize you have the trashiest-looking property on the street? This property looks horrible, " I said, "what with trash allover it and weeds a foot high. Look at all these cheap little corridor buildings that look so lovely and have such beautiful flowers and plantings, and your place looks like a slum. You're blighting the street."
I suppose he realized that he could not stop me from taking photos. "A good day to you, madam! Have a good day!" he barked.
The guy was utterly shameless.
This guy clearly isn't troubled by the neighbors' opinions. We seem to have a larger number of such owners since the Great Housing Rampage and the ensuing glut of newly constructed and converted condos. Either the owners are not paying for the place and are de facto squatters, and aren't going to lift a finger to maintain the place while they wait for their NODs to arrive in the mail (or for the Sheriff to arrive with the movers), or they are slumlords who picked these places up in foreclosure and just want to sit on them till they can flip them. They don't care how their places look or who they rent them to. Twenty years of dramatic neighborhood improvement in Edgewater and Rogers Park is in danger of being reversed by these predatory new owners.
Shame is usually a good method of enforcing local standards of property maintenance on slob owners, but you can't shame the arrogantly shameless. Some owners just have to be coerced, and it's no violation of their property rights to compel conformity with community expectations. Every owner in the area is negatively affected by the neglect and visible deterioration of property in the area. This property is in the 49th Ward, whose alderman is Joe Moore, and a few dozen calls and letters to Moore from irate neighbors disturbed by the litter and weeds might be helpful.