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Belmont Bypass May Require CTA to Buy Air Rights Over Three-Story Building

By Serena Dai | April 22, 2014 7:49am
 In addition to potentially buying existing buildings, the CTA may buy air rights over some Clark Street buildings to build the Belmont bypass.
Belmont Bypass Air Rights
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LAKEVIEW — Some residents of Clark Street may soon be living under train tracks if the CTA's proposed Belmont bypass gets built.

The owner of the building housing Smokers Zone, 3326 N. Clark St., received notice the CTA might want to buy partial air rights over the property to build the bypass intended to speed up service near the Belmont "L" stop, said Woody Slaymaker, 57, the building's landlord.

The potential purchase suggests train tracks for the bypass could be built above the three-story building.

Slaymaker was not pleased with the news.

"How am I going to rent it out with all that construction?" Slaymaker said. "Would you want to live under the train tracks?"

Slaymaker, who owns six other buildings on the block, didn't like the idea of the tracks being added to the neighborhood, he said. He's owned buildings on Clark Street for some 30 years and feels invested in improving the street, he said.

Adding another track will bring "years of construction" and "gunk" that will affect what's been built up — all for people to wait a few minutes less more for a train, he said.

Though his art gallery, Slaymaker Gallery, has functioned for years near train tracks because of its wholesale business, many businesses right under train tracks end up being "seedy," Slaymaker said.

"They're going to destroy our street," he said. "They don't give a darn about this area."

The property is one building south of an empty lot and two buildings that the CTA has said it's interested in buying. A manager of the property north of 3326 N. Clark St., which houses a Jimmy John's franchise, did not respond to a request for comment.

A list of 16 buildings that the CTA might buy will be not be released until the city confirms that all property owners have received notification, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.

Officials said the $320 million project would allow for a 30 percent improvement in train service. More than 40 percent of weekday trains are delayed by as much as three minutes due to the configuration, officials have said.

Though plans for properties to be bought on Clark Street have not been revealed, the CTA has said the land on Wilton Avenue could potentially be sold and developed into buildings that don't require their residents to have cars.

It will take the CTA at least two years to conduct an environmental study before construction of the bypass could begin. Financing has not been secured but would likely come from the federal government.

A community meeting about the bypass is scheduled from 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 22 at the Town Hall District Police Station, 850 W. Addison St.