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CTA Bypass: Targeted Building Owned by Murder-For-Hire Felon's Family

By Serena Dai | April 21, 2014 7:38am
 Several businesses on Clark Street could be displaced for the Belmont Bypass project.
Several businesses on Clark Street could be displaced for the Belmont Bypass project.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

LAKEVIEW — At least one tenant of a building that the CTA is targeting for the Brown Line bypass project doesn't mind leaving.

Daren Friesen, owner of Moksha Yoga Center at 3334 N. Clark St., is ready to ditch his landlord — Dvorkin Holdings, a company formerly owned by convicted murder-for-hire felon Daniel Dvorkin. It's now run by his family members and is going through bankruptcy.

The building's tenants received notices this week that the CTA might buy it to build a $320 million bypass intended to speed up service near the Belmont "L" stop.

"I don't mind moving," Friesen said.

Dvorkin is a developer who was convicted in August for trying to hire a hit man to kill someone who had won an $8.3 million judgment against him, according to reports at the time. After the charge, his wife Francine fired him from the company, reports said.

 The CTA proposed a new flyover for the Brown Line to ease congestion, officials said.
Belmont Bypass
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He faces up to 55 years in jail but is appealing the jury's conviction.

During the trial, the company filed for bankruptcy and has been trying to liquidate properties. The property has been on the market and has been the subject of negotiations, according to an attorney associated with the case and the business owners.

For more about the Belmont bypass plan, listen here. (Story continues below)


The company owned 85 percent of the building at 3338 N. Clark St. as part of a land trust, according to public documents. It estimated the property to be worth $2.5 million in August 2012.

About $1.5 million of the sale would go toward paying off Dvorkin Holdings' mortgage with Belmont Bank. The rest would go to the company's creditors. Representatives from Dvorkin Holdings could not be reached for comment.

Management never quite kept up with the building, said Friesen, whose studio has been in the building for 13 years. Moksha, which also has locations in River West and Bucktown, has been seeking new spaces for its Lakeview studio, Friesen said.

"I'm glad to know that he won't be owning the building anymore and that it goes to a good use," Friesen said.

But not all business owners were jumping to get out.

Other businesses impacted include Gordon Salon, restaurant Cassava Bread and Bolat African Cuisine.

Tony Gordon, owner of Gordon Salon, said his "jaw dropped" when he heard that his building was a potential target for the bypass project, which he had not heart about until a DNAinfo Chicago reporter left a voicemail.

He likes his big salon — about 4,500 square feet total — where he can train his employees, some of whom work at two suburban locations. He planned to stay forever.

"I’m still sort of flabbergasted and really taken aback by what could happen," he said.

Gordon knew about Dvorkin's crimes but didn't worry about it after the felon no longer had control of the company. He admitted that the building needed a rehab and hoped a new owner would invest.

The salon has been at 3336 N. Clark St. for 10 years

"We have a business that’s based on geography, because it’s a salon and the majority of our clients live in that neighborhood," Gordon said. "Now that’s going to be pretty disruptive."

Cassava has been open for more than three years and is now "hitting that point, where it's maturing," said owner Jorge Flores. He never interacted with Dvorkin and never experienced significant changes with building management.

Mostly he was surprised that the bypass project is happening at all.

"It was a shock when someone comes in and says you have two years to move," Flores said. "This place will be gone. I knew eminent domain is something that happens. Until it happens to you, you don't think about it."

The project will displace a total of 16 buildings near the tracks, including several residential buildings on Wilton Avenue and the building on Clark. A full list has not yet been made public.

Business owners have been told that the city will help them move and will help fund some of the moving costs. Several of the Clark Street business owners say they want to stay in Lakeview.

Despite the hassle, Friesen considered the public transit project to be beneficial overall.

"In the end, it's good for everyone," he said. "If you're getting fair market value, can you really complain about it? Mass transit is good for everyone."