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Rezoned and Wrecked: What's To Become of the Former Bingo City on Western?

By Linze Rice | September 1, 2015 5:44am
 What will become of the now demolished portion of the 6800 block of North Western?
Pratt and Western
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WEST RIDGE — A once bustling bowling alley-turned-bingo hall and flea market space at the corner of  Western and Pratt that was demolished earlier this year still sits as a pile of rubble — a symbol of its developmental uncertainty. 

Since being torn down earlier this year, construction and building equipment can be seen lying in wait in the street and empty lot, but Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) said there were no immediate plans to rebuild.

City records show that in 2013, Devon Bank foreclosed on the property's previous owners and took possession of the deed for the parcels beginning at 6800 N. Western Ave., along Western between Farwell Avenue and Pratt Boulevard, as well as an adjacent parking lot at the corner of Pratt and Western.

The property contained the former Theater Lanes bowling alley and Bingo City game hall, as well as a shuttered BMW dealership.

Shortly thereafter, the bank foreclosed on owners of the next block, between Farwell and Morse on Western (bounded by an alleyway in the back).

In January 2014, Silverstein changed the zoning on the entire stretch of land between 6800-6868 North Western from one for an auto dealership to one that allows detached residential homes. The property is adjacent to the Rogers Park Manor historical district — a neighborhood subsection defined by bungalow-style single family houses that date back to the days of early West Ridge settlers. 

Linze Rice says the zoning on the property was changed last year:

She said the property's current owners were trying to find a commercial use for the space, despite the area's new residential designation., at which point she says she would hold a community meeting to gather input. 

"Together, we can find a project that is both good for the economic health of the neighborhood and the community loves," she said in an email to DNAinfo Monday.

Building materials in the site of 6800 N. Western Ave. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Then in June 2014, Gerald Nudo, a principal at Marc Realty — a real estate company specializing in commercial properties listed as the holder of the deed — bought the former dealership and bingo hall, as well as the building's parking lot, for $2.38 million.

They also purchased the remainder of the parcel between Farwell and Morse for $921,000 in June of that year.

In April this year, permits were approved to demolish the single-story buildings. 

But since their wreckage, the site has seen little action despite large bundles of building materials sitting within and next to the lots.

Records show the building received a violation in March 2011 for being out of compliance with the city's vacant building codes because owners failed to register it as empty within 30 days of its vacancy.

When the building at 6800 N. Western was utilized in the past, it was a neighborhood hit as a 16-lane bowling alley named Theater Bowl managed by George Tweten before being turned into an indoor flea market, according to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society. 

In 1981, it reopened as Bingo City courtesy of a nonprofit medical organization called City of Hope. There, several nonprofits held a range of community events and fundraisers throughout the week, including nightly bingo, the historical society said. 

Records from the Federal Communications Commission show City of Hope operated a radio station, WPBM799, City of Hope Bingo City, out of the facility between 1997-2003. 

Nudo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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