More parking sought for River Forest apartment buildings
This picture shows the east end of property at 1101 Bonnie Brae, where developers want to add several parking spaces to the existing lot. | Bill Dwyer~Sun-Times Media
RIVER FOREST — A local real estate development group is seeking permission from the Village of River Forest to add parking spaces to a lot on the 1100 block of Bonnie Brae Avenue.
Principals of Bonnie Brae Development, LLC will go before the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 to request a variance on setback rules to allow additional parking spaces in the southeast corner of an existing lot at 1101 Bonnie Brae.
“The applicant proposes to construct unenclosed parking spaces with a set back of five feet from the south property line,” the variance legal announcement states.
Daniel Watts, a principal with Bonnie Brae Development, said Monday his group is looking to meet a high demand for parking from tenants of its buildings, particularly at 1111 Bonnie Brae and 7227 Thomas.
“Demand for parking is high since most (renters) have two cars,” he said. The 1111 Bonnie Brae and 7227 Thomas buildings, Watts said, have “the least amount of parking for the most amount of units.”
The parking lot owners also rent day parking spaces to Concordia University.
Now, the lot has marked spaces for 34 vehicles. The space the group is seeking to develop appears capable of holding four or five more vehicles.
Between 2003 and 2006, Bonnie Brae Development, which was formed by Watts and fellow River Forest resident Richard Smith and six other investors, purchased 11 properties, extending from 1033 Bonnie Brae to 1127 Bonnie Brae, and including the 7227 Thomas property between the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Bonnie Brae.
The group took out a $4,754,000 mortgages against the eleven properties in October 2005.
Original plans called for demolishing the buildings and contructing a large luxury condo complex with at least 22 units. Michael O’Neill, a listed partner in the development group, said in 2006 that the investment group was “a year and a half to two years away from making anything happen.”
Any chance of redevelopment disappeared when the economy went into deep recession in 2008. Watts, who said his group has been working to fix up the buildings they own and rent them out, said there are still no plans in progress for redevelopment of the properties.
“We’re not right now interested in doing a development on that site,” said Watts, who added they prefer to “sit on the properties for a while.”
According to online records of the Cook County Board of Review, Bonnie Brae Development, LLC also owes $520,638 in back real estate taxes on the eight-unit building at 7227 Thomas Street. In addition, principals of the company have successfully argued before county assessment boards to reduce the valuation of the Thomas Street property from $889,530 in 2006 to just $87,981 in 2011.
According to records from the Cook County Assessor’s office, the two parking lot properties have also seen their valuation reduced sharply. The 1101 property dropped from $30,340 in 2008 to $9,943 in 2012. The 1107 property fell from $12,531 to $7,953 over the same period.~.