Vacant Lot May Stay That Way, Officials Say (PHOTOS)
The recently demolished building at the corner of Belmont and Clybourn may stay empty for years, the owner says. What do you think should be built there?
Residents better get used to seeing a gravel lot at the corner of Belmont and Clybourn avenues, because the owner says he’s planning to wait a while before selling.
Roger Bottalla, owner of the recently demolished building and its main tenant American United Cab Association – a company he recently sold – says he wants to wait for the Western Avenue bridge demolition before selling.
“If any residents are concerned, I’m not thinking of hurting the area by adding a nightclub or anything,” Bottalla said. “I don’t really have any plans for the space immediately. I’m perfectly okay with letting the property stay vacant for a year or two. It’s a valuable piece of property now, and it’ll be even more valuable when the road comes down.”
The construction timeline for the Western Avenue bridge is fuzzy at this point, according to Ald. Scott Waguespack's (32nd) Chief of Staff Paul Sajovec.
"The CTA is currently working with the City on a study of the potential for Bus Rapid Transit on Western Avenue and this could have implications for the project," Sajovec said in an email.
The building on the roughly 45,000-square-foot lot was home to the cab company, as well as a local trade newspaper and Ignite Network, an Internet gaming lounge. Bottalla said they were all given ample notice to move, and multiple extensions before the building was torn down in December.
The lot is currently zoned as C1-2, meaning an investor can build a commercial retail building with apartments or condos above it. The lot, which sits in a sliver of the 1st Ward, would have to be rezoned if anyone wanted to build something different.
A vacant lot might not be attractive, but Bottalla said the building needed to be extensively repaired or simply come down.
“It was an older building, it was in need of repair, and the best use of that lot was not the existing building,” Bottalla said. “My family bought the building and remodeled the interior, but it still had a lot of structure issues. It was in need of new plumbing, electrical, repairs – and rather than having issues with violations or ordinance issues, I thought it was just best to demolish the building and see who would be interested.”
Bottalla said he’s received a few calls from realtors at this point, but the building has only been down a few weeks and winter isn’t exactly the season where people invest in real estate.
He thinks something like a bank, however, would benefit from building at the location.