Lerner Times - September 13, 2001

Charybdis closes doors

By Mike Gunderson
Staff Writer

Charybdis Multi-Arts Complex, 4423 N. Milwaukee Ave., has moved out of Jefferson Park.

The art center had been under attack by both city officials and community members since the Department of Revenue raided it twice in May. Unable to host revenue-generating performances or get a required zoning change, Charybdis had little choice but to leave.

Charybdis vacated its ssecond-floor space in about six days, ending on Wednesday, Sept. 5, said founder Gregor Mortis.

The art center operated for about a year without a public-place-of-amusement license, which is required of a business hosting large performances. To be eligible to apply for the license, Charybdis must be located in a building with B4 zoning.

Charybdis' building is zoned B2. Mortis has always said the building owners, First Western Properties, claimed a zoning change would not be a problem.

Ald. Patrick Levar (45th) took a wait-and-see approach to granting Charybdis' zoning-change request. After meeting with the building owners and Charybdis in March, Levar held a public meeting on the rezoning issue June 27.

More than 200 people attended the meeting, where Charybdis supporters painted the group as a benevolent home to artists and Charybdis opponents portrayed them as a possible nightclub with a pornographic element.

Levar decided to wait until Charybdis' charges of operating without a public-place-of-amusement license were settled before granting or denying the zoning change. Mortis already faced charges as an individual and paid $650. He will soon face charges as Charybdis itself.

"I just got tired of it all," Mortis said of his decision to leave. "I don't want to be somewhere where I gotta fight the local alderman."

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