LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) is threatening to pull his support for a luxury development near the California Blue Line over a conflict between the site's landlord and the tenants who are being evicted.
It's the latest trouble for the proposed 138-unit development at 2342-48 N. California Ave., which has been at the center of protests since it was first announced a couple years ago.
There are six apartments and a shuttered car wash on the site. Since September, the remaining three families have been fighting eviction, arguing that it will be impossible to find replacement affordable housing in the neighborhood.
In December, the eviction seemed inevitable when a judge ordered that the tenants move out by Jan. 15. But tenant organizers were unhappy with the terms so they drafted a new relocation plan, which included pushing back the move-out date to roughly March 1.
Both the alderman's office and the developer, Savoy Development, agreed to the new plan. But the current owner and landlord, Francisco Macias, who is handling the eviction, said he will not comply. He said he's lost thousands of dollars throughout the eviction process and simply can't afford to wait any longer for the tenants to move out.
In a prepared statement, Moreno called the situation "truly unfortunate."
"By refusing to work with me on a resolution that would allow for a dignified and humane relocation of the tenants, the property owner has chosen to pursue an opposite, heavy-handed tactic," he wrote.
The alderman also threatened to pull zoning support for the project.
"By doing so, he has revealed himself to be a bad community partner, who may no longer merit the granted City zoning privileges that are enabling the sale of his property on his terms," Moreno said.
The proposal calls for 138 "micro-apartments," including $1,200 studios offering an average of 439 square feet of space and $1,400 one-bedrooms offering an average of 537 square feet of space.
Though Savoy has yet to buy the site, the developer has received all of the necessary approval from the city to build the project, including a zoning change. Despite this, Moreno could step in and revert the site back its original zoning, which would effectively block the project.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Macias said he wasn't aware of any plans to rezone the property. When asked how the move might impact him financially, he said, "I think anyone would be disappointed."
But he maintained that the eviction has "nothing to do with the development," saying the tenants have to leave whether or not the building is sold to Savoy because he can't keep offering $500 rent.
"If the alderman wants to rezone it, he can do what he feels necessary," he said. "The property still has a lot of potential for remodeling."
Enrico Plati, founding principal of Savoy Development, also said he wasn't aware of any plans to rezone the property and declined to comment any further.
The organizations fighting for the tenants, Autonomous Tenants Union and Somos Logan Square, released the following statement: "Mr. Macias stopped renting to these families to sell their building to a luxury developer. They were never given the options to keep paying rent as they had for years or accept a rent increase. We are heartened that Ald. Moreno is taking this stand for families in Logan Square, and know that his constituents will thank him for it."