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City Wins, Bulldozes Ridge Avenue 'Shack' Next to Old Firehouse

By Linze Rice | January 18, 2016 8:23am
 Two brothers who used to live in a one-story building on Ridge Avenue said the city was "trying to steal" their home to make way for a park. It was demolished Thursday.
Ridge Avenue Firehouse Shack
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EDGEWATER — The single-story duplex that sat at 5700 N. Ridge Ave. for over 107 years was demolished Thursday morning, a victory for Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) who'd been working to raze the building his office often referred to as a "shack" for years.

By late Thursday afternoon, the blue-grey building had become a pile of rubble.

For over two decades, the property was owned by James Brabec Jr., a retired air traffic controller. His brother George later moved into the building's second unit.

The building sits next to a shuttered firehouse. It's just east of Senn High School on the busy Ridge Avenue corridor that takes commuters to Lake Shore Drive.



In 2013, James Brabec told DNAinfo he was open to selling the property, but wanted "fair market value" and had gone back-and-forth with the city on price.

In 2012, the city filed a lawsuit to obtain ownership over the Ridge Avenue Firehouse (that was later expected to become the home to Chicago Filmmakers) claiming that it had the right to the property "for the public purposes" set forth in a 2009 ordinance regarding the city's eminent domain powers.

In April 2015, the courts agreed with the alderman, and by May the Brabecs' had been given $280,000 for the property from the city — despite the property's estimated market value of $368,310, according to property records with the Cook County Assessor.

The brothers were given until August 24 to vacate.

The future of the space remains unknown specifically, but Osterman's office has met with nearby neighborhood groups like Edgewater Triangle Neighbors Association and Broadway-Ardmore-Ridge-Glenwood-Early (BARGE) block clubs over the years about how to best use the space.

Proposals have included transforming it into a small park or communal green space, as well as slightly changing a tricky intersection coming off of busy Ridge Avenue.

George Brabec did not respond to a request for comment.

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