Lerner Times - July 26, 2001
Front Page

Levar continues to mull Charybdis zoning

Business’ hearing July 31

By Mike Gunderson
Staff Writer

Nearly a month after a community meeting, a decision about whether to rezone the building party occupied by Charybdis Multi-Arts Complex on the 4300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue has not been reached.

John Pikarski, zoning attorney for the building owner, said the case has been deferred from the City Zoning Committee agenda by Ald. Pat Levar (45th). With Charybdis, 4423 N. Milwaukee Ave., as one of the tenants of the building, concerns about the art center’s place in the neighborhood have cast a cloud over whether to rezone the entire building, which stretches from 4415 to 4431 N. Milwaukee Ave.

”I have not done anything about the art studio as of yet,” Levar said Friday, July 20. “I’m still checking with different people in the 500-foot radius around it.”

Charybdis was raided by city revenue inspectors and police May 20 and again May 31. Each time, Charybdis was cited for failure to have a city public-place-of-amusement license required to host events involving large groups of people or charging entrance fees. Charybdis is scheduled to appear in court to answer for operating without a license July 31.

The license cannot be applied for and purchased until the building’s zoning is changed to B4, from the current B2.

Charybdis founder Gregor Mortis, who moved the center from Wicker Park into its current home in September, said he did not expect the zoning upgrade to B4 would be a problem.

However, some residents at the June 27 meeting had a problem with the art center, considering it one step away from a nightclub and accusing Charybdis of supporting pornography.

Levar said the question of Charybdis and the question of whether to rezone the building are linked because Charybdis needs the zoning change to move forward and get its proper licenses. Pikarski said Charybdis and events held there should not be debated until it applies for its licenses, when the decision for or against only affects the arts center, not the entire building.

The building is the only property along Milwaukee Avenue from Addison Street north to the city limits that is zoned B2-1. Every other property is zoned at least B4, which is what the building owners are seeking, Pikarski said.

The building owners, Jim Pappas, Paul Tsakiris and John Trumbolovic, have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the building’s restoration and should be given a zoning that allows their building to house the same types of businesses the rest of the strip of Milwaukee Avenue buildings can house, Pikarski said.

”Proper zoning would dictate that the building be rezoned,” Pikarski said. “Unfortunately another ingredient has been brought into the mix and that has not worked out for the benefit of my clients.”

Levar has said he might delay a rezoning decision until the July 31 court date has passed.

Pikarski said that given a little time, the tension surrounding Charybdis will relax and Levar can make a clear decision.

”Probably the best thing that can happen is to put it away for 30 or 60 days and let the dust settle.”

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