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Owner Of 'Rotted' Old Town House Faces 'Significant Fines,' City Says

By Ted Cox | July 13, 2017 4:42pm
 The house at 1720 N. Sedgwick St. has been stabilized, but the owner faces hefty fines.
The house at 1720 N. Sedgwick St. has been stabilized, but the owner faces hefty fines.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

DOWNTOWN — The city says it will pursue "significant fines" against the owner of an Old Town house allowed to decay earlier this year when the roof was removed without permission.

"The city is going to seek significant fines on this matter," said attorney Greg Janes in a Daley Center court hearing Thursday on 1720 N. Sedgwick St.

Owner Joseph Younes has said that he wants to restore the building to what it was, but also admitted previously in housing court that he and his contractor made a "judgment call" to remove the roof to ease pressure on the surrounding walls — without a permit to do so in the Old Town Triangle Historic District.

Younes wasn't in court Thursday, but his attorney got an earful from Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), who was.

 Ald. Michele Smith accused an Old Town homeowner of
Ald. Michele Smith accused an Old Town homeowner of "deleterious behavior" in allowing his building to decay.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

"It's critically important to maintain the integrity of our district," Smith testified. She accused Younes and his contractor of "deleterious behavior" and suggested they were dragging their feet on the legal process, as Younes' attorney Hugh Howard sought a one-week continuance.

Smith said if they weren't prepared to deliver plans on what exactly they intend to do to restore the building at a hearing before Associate Judge Patrice Ball-Reed now set for next Thursday, "that is a sign they're in bad faith."

Smith cited last week's action by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to seek a "maximum fine" for the violations, and quoted the possible figure of $150,000 amassed at $1,500 a day since the city issued a stop-work order on the property in March.

Howard said he would do all he could to get architect Allen Yanong to make final changes ahead of next week's follow-up hearing.

Still to be determined is if Younes will be responsible for making those changes or if that duty will fall to the court-appointed receiver, CJR Realty, which has already stabilized the structure. Smith argued that the contractor who removed the roof without a permit should not be in charge of restoring the building.