The day finally came when the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals made a decision on the future of The Portage Theater.
More than 50 people showed up in support of The Portage Theater, a pretty good turnout for a weekday at 9am.
The ZBA took the Portage property case first, with the legal counsel of Chicago Tabernacle seeking an extension regarding the decision of the board. Citing “hardship”, the church claimed they weren’t given enough time to sort out all the particulars, especially with parts of The Portage now up for landmark designation.
A Six Corners Association rep and Alderman John Arena argued strictly along economic lines. Allowing the church to buy The Portage would stifle economic growth for Six Corners and the surrounding neighborhoods. Leases for businesses waiting to open near The Portage would be in jeopardy if the church was allowed purchase or with further delays.
The Board took note for the record that there were quite a number of people showing up opposed to the church purchase (over 50).
The bad news: ZBA decided to delay a decision on the sale of the property for 30 days (until July 20th).
The good news: This time period was half of what church counsel requested. In fact, when asked how long a delay was necessary to basically get its act together, counsel responded “oh, about a couple of months,” eliciting derisive laughter from some in the audience.
I think the ZBA was trying its best to be fair under the circumstances, but I definitely got a read that the chairman was frustrated with church counsel. It doesn’t look good when you don’t have all “your ducks in a row” as the chairman implied and you get a significant number of people siding against you showing up.
The next ZBA hearing will be July 20th at 2pm. Mark your calendars NOW.
The chairman could not affirm that 7/20/2012 will be the absolute final date of the decision, but it seems clear he doesn’t want this dragging on indefinitely, which is what Chicago Tabernacle seems intent on doing.