Mayor’s Veto Of Pusheen Special Use: Right Decision, Right Time, Right Reasons (Updated)


If you check out any Facebook page discussions about Park Ridge you are likely to find people lamenting the lack of “retail” – and/or their favorite restaurants (e.g., Chick-fil-A) – in town. Often these laments bear a sarcastic “This is why can’t we have nice things?” tone.

So you might think that Mayor Marty Maloney’s recent veto of the City Council’s approval of a special use permit enabling Pusheen Corporation to expand its offices into the first floor of the former Wells Fargo Home Mortgage office at 104 Main Street would be greeted with an outpouring of support.

After all, his veto message correctly notes how that block of Main – home to the successful Harp & Fiddle and Beer on the Wall – is highly visible from the METRA tracks and has attracted train riders from outside Park Ridge to come and patronize not only those establishments but, also, our other local businesses in ways the proposed ground-floor Pusheen offices will not.

But judging by the negative comments (as of 06.27.2018 @ 9:30 p.m.) to a story about Maloney’s veto on the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate’s Facebook page, Pusheen apparently deserves “most-favored-tenant” status. And although those comments might be modest in number, they must be viewed in the context of the deafening silence coming from those allegedly pro-retail tub-thumpers at the Chamber of Commerce.

What gives?

Let’s start with the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission (“P&Z”) and the City Council, both of which seem to be falling over themselves to end-run the Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan for Uptown in order to give Pusheen the special ground-floor office it wants – even if that means foregoing future opportunities to attract retail or restaurant/bar business to that space.

Remember, first and foremost, that a “special use” is a use not contemplated in our Zoning Code for that space. In other words, it legalizes – even if only temporarily, as in Pusheen’s case – what otherwise would be a prohibited non-conforming use. Consequently, the burden is on the applicant to demonstrate a good reason to grant the special use, not on the City to demonstrate a good reason to deny it.

Think back to when a Pearle Vision store tried to locate in the first floor of the Pickwick Building. P&Z Commissioner Jim Argionis pointedly noted (in the minutes of P&Z’s February 27, 2018 meeting) that such a use, albeit retail, “did not fulfill the spirit and intent of the Comprehensive Plan” – an observation in which Commissioners Chris Zamaites, Jim Coogan and Lou Arrigoni concurred; and which produced a 7-0 rejection (Commissioners Baldi and Hanlon MIA) of the special use needed by Pearle.

But a funny thing happened on the way to P&Z’s consideration of the Pusheen special use application on April 24, 2018, a mere two months later.

The City’s Senior Planner, Jon Branham, issued a memo of that same date acknowledging (at pages 2-3) the existing zoning requirements for 104 Main and the Comprehensive Plan’s recommendations of “retail, restaurant, entertainment [and]…[p]edestrian-oriented commercial service and office uses” for the ground floor of that building. He further noted (also on page 3) that a special use should not be recommended unless evidence presented at a public hearing supports “each of the [three] following conclusions” – one of which being that “[t]he special use in the specific location proposed is consistent with the spirit and intent of the Zoning Ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan.”

But when you get to Branham’s proposed “Findings of Fact” (as page 6 of the memo), there is no mention of the “retail, restaurant, [and] entertainment” requirement for a special use permit. Instead, one of the findings is that Pusheen’s proposed use of the ground floor would be for “a pedestrian-oriented business.”

Can you (in the infamous words of the late Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell) “smell the meat a-cookin’” yet?

If not, check out page 2 of the minutes of the April 24, 2018 P&Z meeting, where Chairman Joe Baldi asks Pusheen owner Andrew Duff “if there will be any walk-in business” on the ground floor of104 Main, to which Mr. Duff responds that “there would be no walk-in business.”

Translation: Pusheen don’t need no stinking “pedestrian-oriented business” to get its special use for that ground-floor space.

Despite no retail, no restaurant, no entertainment, and the tenant’s admission of no walk-in business, a 7-0 majority of P&Z Commissioners (Arrigoni, Baldi, Bennett, Coogan, Hanlon, Mills and Zamaitas – Argionis and Giannetti MIA) approved the special use.

Can you smell it now?

Not yet? Then listen to the City Council discussion of the Pusheen special use before it was approved by a 4 (Alds. Wilkening, Shubert, Melidosian and Mazzuca) to 2 (Alds. Moran and Milissis – Ald. Joyce MIA) vote at the Council’s June 4, 2018 meeting, starting at the 17:20 mark of the meeting video and running through the 26:00 mark.

Seemingly looking for some way to justify the special deal for Pusheen, Melidosian tried to get Pusheen’s Duff to commit to putting a Pusheen store on the first floor of 104 Main. To his credit, Duff would not – leaving Melidosian with nothing but an “empty storefronts” faux-justification for approving the special use, even though “empty storefronts” is not one of the considerations for granting a special use.

Wilkening and Mazzuca also copped to that easy-but-irrelevant “vacant storefronts” alibi before they, along with Shubert, voted to give Pusheen its special deal.

Can you smell it now?

FWIW, we dislike empty storefronts as much as the next person. But we believe in the need for a Zoning Code and a Comprehensive Plan, as well as the need for the predictability of precedent in how zoning issues are treated by the City.

P&Z’s rejection of the Pearle Vision “pedestrian-oriented business” should have been precedent for its rejection of the Pusheen non-“pedestrian-oriented business.” But it wasn’t, even though the still-empty storefront at six corners could be viewed as much more problematic than the vacant ground floor of 104 Main.

Perhaps those P&Z members and that Council majority forgot that the building that now houses a successful Holt’s was vacant for several years after Pine’s men’s shop moved out. Or that the building that now houses a successful Harp & Fiddle was vacant for a couple of years after the drug store moved out. Or that the building that now houses a successful Shakou was vacant for several years after the Pioneer Press moved out. Or that even the building that now houses a successful Beer on the Wall was vacant for several years.

The City wisely stayed the course and held true to both the Zoning Code and to the spirit and intent of the Comprehensive Plan. And because those storefronts were allowed to remain vacant rather than sold out to boring office space, we now have a much more vibrant and thriving Uptown, especially adjacent to the METRA tracks.

Maloney’s veto shows that he sees and understands how this works. And so do Alds. Moran and Milissis. The other five aldermen: Not so much.

If the Council over-rides Maloney’s veto at the July 2 meeting, 104 Main Street will continue to contribute no entertainment value toward that newly-vibrant dining/drinking/entertainment area.

What an over-ride will do, however, is feed the suspicion that if you know the right people in the right places, you can get a special deal/special use, irrespective of the Zoning Code and the Comprehensive Plan.

Just like Pusheen is on the verge of doing.

Update 07.03.18. Last night three aldermen – John Moran (1st), Nick Milissis (2nd) and Charlie Melidosian (5th) – prevented the over-ride of Mayor Marty Maloney’s veto of the City Council’s approval of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s award of the special use to Pusheen Corp.

Moran and Milissis had previously voted to reject the special use, but it was Melidosian’s conversion that carried the day.

Now let’s see if Pusheen’s owner takes his ball and leaves. Or what 104 Main’s owner, Owen Hayes II, does, or doesn’t.

Meanwhile, if City Staff (Jon Branham), the P&Z Commissioners, and certain aldermen don’t want to enforce the Zoning Code as written and/or wish to disregard certain elements of the Comprehensive Plan in order to hand out special deals (e.g., special uses), let them start the process for changing those Code and Plan provisions –with the appropriate notice and publicity so that the public and existing business owners can meaningfully participate – instead of arbitrarily enforcing or disregarding them.

To read or post comments, click on title.

10 comments so far

Well done, Mayor Maloney. That square block of Main should (with Holt’s across the tracks) should be an entertainment district and another first floor office space doesn’t meet that goal.

From the embedded documents in this post what P&Z and the council did is improperly approve that special use that doesn’t qualify. What’s the point of having a zoning code and comprehensive plan if they are ignored?

Entertainment district……really?!?! We have a few bars/restaurants and suddenly it’s Beale Street!!

One of the restaurants just changed hands for the second time in less than a year and based on my observations walking by at peak times, I don’t think that crepe place is long for this world. There are also still spaces unfilled on that same street.

By the way, I think your reference to the Pickwick space is very appropriate. Maybe I am missing something but aren’t we almost 6 months after people celebrated “saving the Pickwick space”. It’s still empty with no activity that I am aware of.

I am all for having a plan but I think some folks have a completely overinflated view of the value and demand for these spaces.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, “entertainment district” – with far more “entertainment” than Park Ridge ever has had. And a whole lot more than a Pusheen office will provide.

If people don’t like the current Comprehensive Plan, then it should be changed. But it shouldn’t be disregarded simply because some business wants more office space. We deserve better from both our P&Z commissioners and our aldermen than the disregard of our ordinances and plans.

I agree with this editor’s note to 8:14 a.m.’s comment. If vacant storefronts isn’t a consideration for a special use, or mentioned as a consideration for departing from the Comprehensive Plan, then why is P&Z and a majority of alderman contorting themselves to give Pusheen the special use? Something seems fishy about this, or maybe it is just stupidity or public officials who (as this editor has said before) are “pleasers.”

Very disappointing that your take on this is that it’s a conspiracy of “knowing the right people” rather than looking into the actual economics of the situation. Too cynical about wrong people, honestly. I believe the smarter members of the city council realize they have a golden goose situation of a “boring office” business that both pays a special use fee and, crucially, also pays retail internet tax on their online sales and seem to be doubling their size every year. So how big are those online sales? Why don’t we ask Marty Maloney just how much retail tax they generate from the business with close to 10 million follows on Facebook and global fan base or is he too busy antagonizing them about their window displays and lack of interest in opening their doors to mom’s out on lunch to actually care about the bottom line? I’m pretty sure we are talking multiples of the revenue of any of the other “bustling” retail shops in town (Tealula, Uptown Girlz, Edie, 2 Sisters, Camp Willow)… maybe multiples of them all combined? So let’s not pretend this is just another mortgage loan office or discount brokerage firm. It’s honestly astounding that Park Ridge actually manages to attract a revenue generating internet wunderkind (one you would normally expect to see operating down in the West Loop near Google HQ) and our genius mayor wants to denigrate it because it doesn’t fit yesteryear’s plan that fails take the existence of the internet into account.

Now having said that, let’s look at a more pedestrian case of something similar from a few years back. I still believe Dan Knight was right when he claimed the Charles Schwab agreement that paid the city over $20K in special use fees a year as being the best they could have hoped for in that space. Let’s consider, did Amphora ever generate $1M+ in sales a year to match what they are guaranteed from Schwab? Do any of these cute little shops? He was also right when he described Schwab as being the “nail in the coffin” of PR retail dreams. That should have been the end of the fantasy of the Comprehensive Plan, or do we just stick our heads in the sand and pretend Amazon doesn’t exist and PR residents will shop local at all costs? Astounding lack of vision by everyone but Knight. And to his credit, that was years ago before half the shops that were always on Frimark’s and Ryle’s mall fantasy lists went into actual retail death spirals. So what does the Maloney fantasy list look like for 104 Main in 2018? Surely no Borders or Claire’s or Abercrombie & Fitch… maybe Shake Shack, Tesla, Apple, Lululemon, Gucci? Come on, this isn’t Maloney looking out for the taxpayer, it’s just another PR mayor indulging in utopian retail fantasies where the future is always bright and a better tenant is always just about to arrive.

Holts, Harp & Fiddle, Shakou and Beer on the Wall proved only that there was strong demand for a few places that serve good beer and whisky in town, which probably would have materialized closer to 2010 had it not taken the city so long to warm up to something resembling a *gasp* “bar”. So we got that in 2015 and now what does anyone really think is left to move in years later? A fifth sushi restaurant in a half mile radius? I am asking honestly, because either you or Marty must have an actual vision if you are going to recommend leaving 104 Main empty with no better alternative. That burden is on you two to convince all of us PR retail skeptics.

And do you not worry just a little that it’s almost uncanny how Maloney is falling right into the pie-in-the-sky trap just as this whole cycle appears to be peaking? Yes, things always look great at the peak and it all seems like it could just go on forever, but the flip side is that interest rates on loans and rents certainly aren’t getting any cheaper in the next year. A strong case could be made that the fact that two restaurants failed in the Pickwick space back to back is practically a leading recession indicator. That is the flagship space in town, no question! And now odds are it sits empty for the next couple years costing Dino $100K in lost rent per year b/c once again, the most prudent option didn’t fit the vision of yesteryear where chocolate phosphates fly like moon pies off soda fountain counter tops. Someone just remember to invite Kathy Meade to this idyllic little fantasy! But that’s no big deal if you are Maloney, the council or P&Z because they all seem happy just to explain the trend away as “rent being too high/bad restaurant management”. Oh so convenient for them! You’ve seen the minutes just like I have and frankly it’s offensive that in 2018 these guys haven’t learned the lesson of the Frimark era which in short is- DON’T LET THE POLITICIANS START BELIEVING THEY KNOW THE MARKET BETTER THAN THE MARKET KNOWS ITSELF. Come on, do we really have to play this game again? Does Misguided Marty also want to explain away the empty Snap Kitchen space, Le Peep, Noodles and Co, half the shops on 100 N NW Hwy, Vine St, the old Walters space on Main, empty Gumba Joes, etc?

So no, I 100% disagree with your argument that this is a good use of a veto. Schmidt knew how to properly use a veto to prevent taxpayer money from being leeched upon by special interests within the public sector. Maloney, in contrast, is directly interfering with a deal that benefits a business, a landlord and the taxpayer to benefit his own ego. Shame on him!

EDITOR’S NOTE: So Pusheen’s owner is threatening to move his 25-employee business elsewhere if he doesn’t get his special use. BFD.

Developer Lance Chody pulled a similar shot years ago by demanding a multi-million dollar sales tax rebate in order to sell/lease his property to Whole Foods, only to be told “no” by the Council and then come back two weeks later and agree to the Whole Foods deal with no sales tax concessions from the City. Too bad this P&Z Commission and this Council’s majority doesn’t have the spine to enforce the Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan, and tell Duff “AMF,” the way that earlier Council did with Chody.

As for your wanting the Mayor to disclose how much sales tax the City collects from Pusheen on its online sales, apparently you’re not aware that Illinois law prevents the release of individual retailers’ sales and sales tax payments. But nothing prevents Mr. Duff from publishing Pusheen’s sales tax returns, so why isn’t he releasing those returns to prove what a sales tax goldmine Pusheen is for the City? And while he’s at it he could explain how much revenue the City derives from Pusheen’s “close to 10 million follows on Facebook.”

The “bottom line,” “Paine,” is that once Pusheen gets its special deal special use, the ground floor of 104 Main is lost to the retail/restaurant/entertainment market. So while neither we nor the mayor can predict if any of those types of businesses will lease that space if it stays vacant, Pusheen’s occupancy of that space guarantees they won’t.

If the Council’s majority aldermen don’t like the Zoning Code’s special use standards, or the Comprehensive Plan, they have the authority to change them. But ignoring those standards or making up alibi’s do give Pusheen a special deal is stupid and gutless.

It also occurred to me that none of the above even addresses the careless way that Maloney went about this veto, waiting so long after the initial approval that construction work had clearly started on the space, as anyone who walks down Main to catch the Metra may have curiously noticed.

You want to talk about funny smells in town, that’s the funniest one I’ve caught in awhile. I don’t even know if there is a precedent in the last couple decades of seeing a newspaper run an article about an approved new business and then having to retract the next week b/c of mayoral whims!

So does this open the city up to an estoppel lawsuit to recover those construction costs? At what point should the mayor be bothered to care enough to attend meetings and make decisions in real time that potentially involved hundreds of thousands of private sector investment dollars?

Something to ponder for the weekend.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The landlord for 104 Main appears to be the ubiquitous Owen Hayes, who has been opportunistically investing in Park Ridge real estate for decades. Assuming Pusheen’s owner was clueless of Council procedures, Hayes should have known the legal timing for mayoral vetoes and advised Pusheen accordingly. So should have the newspaper reporter.

An “estoppel lawsuit”? GFL with that one: Any attorney who would file that suit would need to worry about being sanctioned for frivolous litigation.

it’s all well and good to WANT a restaurant in the space, but I agree with the commenter above, the new indian restaurant is that spaces FIFTH restaurant in two years and every time I walk by the crepe place it’s closed or empty. who would be dumb enough to open up a another restaurant on a block with no parking and a glut of failing competitors? sounds like Publius needs to get his lips out of the mayors butt and actually walk the block

what the city needs is to incentive good businesses to come to uptown, not make building owners wait years to find the “right” tenant on their own, why else do you think we have a salons, nail salon, and eyeglasses store on every block???

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor “actually walk[s] the block” once or twice a week.

So by “incentive [sic] business to come to uptown” you mean bribe them? Yeah, that has worked great over the years (see, e.g., the City’s “façade improvement program”).

Nobody gave Holt’s, Shakou, Beer on the Wall, Harp & Fiddle, Five Guys, Hay Caramba, etc. “incentives” yet they’re doing just fine. Government incentives/bribes are nothing but crapitalism – and usually crony crapitalism at that.

To Paine in PR on 06.29.18 6:09 pm: Since when did Pusheen, which most people in Park Ridge don’t know about, become Park Ridge’s “golden goose” other than to its owner and its landlord Owen Hayes? Or “a revenue-generating internet wunderkind”? That cracks me up.

Restaurants and other businesses that fail in Park Ridge (Paine named Snap Kitchen, Le Peep, Noodles and Co, Walter’s, Gumba Joe’s, etc.) are like restaurants and businesses that fail in other towns: Their products or services aren’t worth the price to the people who might patronize them. That’s why, despite all the pie-in-the-sky talk by mayors Wietecha and Marous, city mgr. Tim Schuenke, and the developer, we never got a Borders or Claire’s or Abercrombie & Fitch in the Uptown development. And that’s why we’ll never get a Shake Shack, Tesla, Apple, Lululemon, Gucci, or any other of Paine’s daydream shops.

Just like there was a Holt’s, a Shakou, a Harp & Fiddle, a Beer on the Wall, a Tealula, an Edie, a Dick Pond, etc. to fill the empty spaces they occupy, there are other potentially successful businesses waiting to occupy the ground floor of 104 Main IF that space isn’t wasted on Pusheen.

And if Dino wants to keep his Pickwick corner spot vacant while he holds out for the rent he wants from a business that qualifies under the zoning code and the comprehensive plan, that’s his choice and solely his choice.

The only thing Uptown needs is a parking deck either next to the library or on the city lot along Summit east of Prospect. I have never had a serious problem parking within a block or two (at most) of my destination, but a deck would make parking more visible to visitors from other communities who don’t know about all the side street and hidden-lot (by the AT&T bldg.) parking we locals use.

Bnon, I’m using “golden goose” to describe a business that would simultaneously generate the city some form of retail sales tax while paying a special use at the same time. Like it or not, businesses like Charles Schwab that pay only the special use are profitable for the city. Businesses like Pearle Vision (which would have had a large retail aspect planned) and Pusheen may be even more profitable per sq. foot of prime space they occupy due to dual income sources. A smart city would be flexible and willing to negotiate to fill a vacant space and not jump to demonizing the landlord. Apparently Pearle Vision thought the rent at The Pickwick was just fine.

I think you mistook my list of shops as my own fantasy list, but it wasn’t. Retail is dying. Saying “there are other potentially successful businesses waiting to occupy the ground floor of 104 Main” isn’t actual thinking, it’s just day dreaming. Look at interest rates, CPI, the recent minimum wage increase and then make a strong case we’ll get another Holt’s in the dark, narrow, no windows former bank space at 104 Main!

My compaint is if we can’t talk about revenue but instead the goalposts get moved to nebulous concepts like “foot traffic” and words like “bustling” and “entertainment” are thrown around like currency, I fail to see how it’s any different than the Frimark era?

And if the argument towards the landlords like Dino or Owen Hayes is that maybe they should just lower their rent below market value (which in this case I would define as what their preferred choice tenant was willing to pay), how is that different than Lance Chody asking the city to lower the taxes on Whole Foods? Are we fine with subsidies to get our preferred businesses when the downside cost is all on the landlord, but not the taxpayer? Again, not real thinking.

Also this idea Pubdog is pushing that somehow conflates actual subsidies (tax breaks or facade renovations) that cost the taxpayer real money, with allowing a special use that generates the taxpayer real revenue is absurd. Should we then argue that when they gave Beer on the Wall approval to sell customers an extra glass of beer a day they effectively broke with code and subsidized a business selling a $6 product, when the opportunity cost was that the customer may have otherwise strolled down the block and drank a $16 single malt somewhere else? How happy do we imagine those other businesses that had to pay for massive kitchen build-outs to peddle their craft beers are, when Beer on the Wall gets to capture those same margins at minimum cost because the city council changed the rules to allow it to operate in a more bar-like manner? And how much do we want our politicians thinking about starting to socially engineer Park Ridge and micromanage which shops get to go on which blocks and which items they should display in their windows?

The biggest elephant in this room is that none of these issues would exist if the council hadn’t been too damn lazy to update the decade-old Comprehensive Plan sometime since the last recession. It’s nice to see at least one of them takes the time to study actual retail trends that exist in 2018, so I’m hopeful they could actually come up with something useful if they tried. Still, it was pretty damning IMO to see one of the original authors of the CP denounce it as being out-of-date at city hall last night at the same time it’s being referred to as some Master Plan From On High. Even worse to see Ald. Melidosian change his yes vote and then sneak in a line at the end that sounded suspiciously like “Maybe what this town really needs is a salaried Economic Development position?” If we want to be cynical and imagine some members of the council have ulterior motives and the meat is a-cookin, maybe that’s what this was all about the whole time… trying to make the case that landlords don’t do a good enough job trying to find tenants, so why don’t we just outsource that job to a highly paid bureaucrat once and for all?

Anyway, if Maloney, Moran, Milissis, Melidosian and Pubdog think it’s going to be a good excuse to say “the Comprehensive Plan told us to do it!” when there are two or three dozen vacant spaces sitting around uptown, good luck with that narrative during the next election cycle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Re “this idea Pubdog is pushing that somehow conflates actual subsidies (tax breaks or facade renovations) that cost the taxpayer real money, with allowing a special use that generates the taxpayer real revenue is absurd,” please quantify that “real revenue” or stop talking about it.

We didn’t advocate for Beer on the Wall’s “extra glass,” but arguing that somebody will order a $6 beer instead of a $16 single malt is retarded, as is arguing that Holt’s or H&F paid for “massive kitchen build-outs to peddle their craft beers.”

We are against “politicians…starting to socially engineer Park Ridge and micromanage which shops get to go on which blocks and which items they should display in their windows.” Unfortunately, that’s what P&Z and the Council majority did when they ignored the Zoning Code’s special use requirements and the Comprehensive Plan for Pusheen’s benefit.

The “Frimark era” – which was just a slightly more perverted version of the Wietecha and Marous eras – was loaded with attempted and accomplished special real estate deals that actually make the one P&Z and the Council majority wanted to give Pusheen and Owen Hayes small potatoes; see, e.g., the 2004 secretive attempt to buy the Foot and Ankle Surgeons property on Busse (from…wait for it…Owen Hayes) for a new cop shop; the 2008 secretive attempt to buy 720 Garden (from a friend of Frimark’s) for a new cop shop; and the 2008 secretive attempt to buy the then recently-closed Busse site of Napleton (a friend of Frimark’s) Cadillac for a new cop shop.

As we said in today’s update of the June 28 post: If P&Z and the Council majority don’t like the current Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan, let them start the process for changing them rather than playing games with them or ignoring them.

I would quantify real revenue (in the case of Pearle’s plan or Pusheen) as retail sales tax paid to the city plus special use fees paid to the city in addition to minor factors that generate money that wouldn’t apply to empty spaces (taxes on utilities, Comcast, fees from renovation permits, extra revenue generated by employees patronizing other businesses, etc.)

I still haven’t heard any coherent explanation for how Dino only receiving five full months of rent for the Pickwick space since late 2014 is good for the stability of what everyone claims is their favorite corner in town. There’s a long-game to play here.

I love Beer on the Wall, but using your definition of “anything that deviates from established code = special favor” I don’t see how you would consider the city contorting themselves to allow BotW to function as the ONLY bar in Park Ridge without a restaurant attached isn’t something resembling a “special favor” and puts them at a competitive advantage? I personally love it, I’m all for updating stodgy code to create a diverse functioning local economy! They should have allowed bars 20 years ago instead of scrambling to play catch-up in the last few. And yes I do realize that pretending a $6 glass of beer = $16 single malt is as silly as pretending 104 Main = Pines/Medicine Shoppe/Garden on the Run/Pickwick/Pioneer Press/Noodles and Co.

One last point and amusing anecdote. Alderman Moran, too clever by half, probably thought he was getting a really juicy jab in at Duff when he said something along the lines of “I’ve talked on the phone to all your neighbors on Main and the only reason they want you there is because they are scared about what else would go in that space instead.” Nice one John, you just added confirmed negative business sentiment from the actual troops on the ground and to our ever-expanding list of anxious landlords, vacant spaces, macro headwinds, increased competition (especially in the sushi sector), lack of parking, and out-of-date Comprehensive Plan. How does that Kool-Aid taste?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unless you’ve got actual numbers, we don’t give a rat’s derriere about your methodology. And even that methodology is suspect when you include un-documentable warm-and-fuzzies like “extra revenue generated by employees patronizing other businesses.”

“Dino only receiving five full months of rent for the Pickwick space since late 2014” is pretty much Dino’s call because he’s the guy who decides what rent he wants. But if he and all those other “anxious landlords” you’re so concerned about don’t like owning commercial buildings in Park Ridge they can always sell. But we don’t see many “for Sale” signs or listings that suggest that building owners are bailing on Uptown.

People keep talking about the “Comprehensive Plan” as if it’s the Holy Grail. It was written in 1996 (at least what I could find on the city’s website was written then) and goodness knows the face of retail and life in general has changed significantly since then. Given that things have changed so drastically, can we dare hope that the city fathers will update the splendid document anytime soon? Hope springs eternal, but I’m guessing they won’t.

EDITOR’S NOTE: People keep talking about the Zoning Code, too, but that hasn’t been rewritten since around 1996, too – but that doesn’t mean it’s not still the law.

The mayor didn’t say that 104 Main needs to be “retail” and neither did we – only that it shouldn’t be office space. And in our “Update” we encouraged the revisiting of the Zoning Code and the Comprehensive Plan. And the burden of that effort should fall on the four aldermen (Wilkening, Shubert, Mazzuca and Joyce) who chose to disregard both of those in order to give Pusheen its special deal.

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