Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ya'll Gone Up And Done It

Recently I’ve noticed that the parkway across the street was becoming unkempt again.

The trash was starting to pile up and with all of the rain the weeds were moving past my ankles. A sure sign of maintenance dude neglect.

It turns out the school across the street wasn’t keeping up its end of the deal.

Or should I say some of the school’s employees weren’t doing their job.

It’s tough to change people’s priorities. Especially when they think that their responsibilities are encompassed within a fence’s boundaries.

Unfortunately for them I live across the street and I have no problem calling my contact within the administration to let them know what exactly is not being done.

Moreover, the City of Chicago says that whoever owns a piece of property is also responsible for the parkway. To the best of my knowledge, educational institutions are not exempt from this rule.

So I placed a call across the street.

My contact across the street is a freshly scrubbed, bright eyed young man who is an alumnus of the school. They’re big on that wholesome suit & tie, good manners and well rounded individual type of look.

Now I don’t know if it’s the luck of the draw or if it’s because he’s the low man on the totem pole in the office---whatever the case may be, he is blessed with the arduous task of fielding my initial calls.

Even though he has very good manners and would never say so, I’m sure when my name echoes in the halls, a slight chill may run up his spine.

And I’m fairly confident that’s not in a good way.

I left a message for him stating that the yard and clean up work that the school promised to do on a weekly basis wasn’t getting done.

A few hours later he replied by apologizing and reiterating that he would make the appropriate parties aware. He wanted me to give it a few weeks to see if I noticed any changes.

Frankly, I found that to be unacceptable.

The work already wasn’t getting done, why in God’s name would I think that the passage of a few weeks would improve the already shabby service?

I called the fresh faced youth back and told him exactly that.

For the most part I’m a rule and procedures type of broad. I don’t like to intentionally step on toes and go over people’s heads ‘cause it’s just bad form. Nonetheless during the course of our discussion, the youth suggested that I inform the principal of the situation.

I thought that was a smashing idea.

I did sense an edge of frustration in his voice though.

In all honesty I think that he has made every effort to make sure that the lawn and maintenance guys do what they’re supposed to be doing. It seems though that they take what the kid has to say with a grain of salt.

Talk about undermining someone’s authority.

Before I could dash off an e-mail to the principal about the matter, he beat me to the punch and called me at work.


That sweet last gasp of warmth in the air is being chased by fall's impending entrance.

I've already stared to clean out the flower boxes on the back porch and haul summer things down to the basement.

Nonetheless I still wanted to give you a touch of summer to take with you as we all hunker down for the colder months ahead.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Kid On The Block

Depending on how many stories they put on this development, you just may be able to see into my kitchen.

That ad looks mighty slick and fancy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now This Is One Of The Reasons Why I Moved To The South Side, II

One word---Olympics.

Another two words---Olympic Stadium.

The last word---Within walking distance from my door.

Can you imagine if Chicago gets the Olympics? I'm giddy with anticipation!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Farmer's Market

If the falling temperatures didn't let me know summer is over, the news that there's only six weeks left for Chicago's farmer's markets did.

Heavy sighs all the way around.

I now dream of stock piling bread, cheese and organically fed meats in a deep freezer to get me through the winter.

The only problem is I don't have a deep freezer.

Unfortunately condo living and community spaces don't lend themselves to having your own freezer to store away your goodies. There would either have to be a great deal of trust with your neighbors or a padlock involved.

Nothing says "screw you (potentially) thieving bastards" like a big padlock on an appliance.

Not exactly the neighborly vibe I'd like to promote.

Nonetheless visions of frozen bread and good Wisconsin cheese will accompany those of sugar plums and holiday treats this winter.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Now This Is One Of The Reasons Why I Moved To The South Side

Say what you will about those of us who live south of Madison Street.

You may say I'm dreamer but baby I'm not the only one.

I recently stumbled upon the work and musings of a Mr. Lee Bey. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who sees and appreciates the architectural gems on Chicago's south side.

While most of Mr. Bey's work turns a spotlight on these beautiful buildings, the entire city is his beat.

I get to look at significant buildings and get me some education to boot? It appears that the internet can be a learning tool.

Viagra ads, my ass.

And The Winner Is...

I have reached a decision.

The winner is Benjamin Moore's Champion Cobalt.

So it is written, so it shall be done.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dropping The Ball

So let me see if I’m getting this right.

In a February 11, 2004 press release the Honorable Richard M. Daley stated the following:

"By ensuring that only licensed developers can apply for building permits, this ordinance helps improve the quality of building construction,"

And the Residential Developer’s Fact Sheet dated March 15, 2006 also states:

“The Residential Real Estate Developer license must be obtained before owning, operating, conducting, managing, engaging in, maintaining, or carrying on the business of residential real estate developer. The Department of Planning and Development requires that licenses be obtained before residential development projects are submitted for approval to the Plan Commission or Community Development Commission.”

In short a developer is supposed to have their developer’s license in hand prior to applying for any type of permit from the Department of Construction and Permits (DCAP).

Yet somehow my developer doesn’t have this all important license but has still managed to secure construction permits for the 1512-1514 East Marquette development.

So from where I’m sitting DCAP seems to be grossly ignorant of the developer license process.

There’s no other way Mr. Knight could have secured the necessary building permits if DCAP dotted their I’s and crossed their T’s.

Then of course Mr. Knight may have his developer’s license. Though the last time I checked that wasn’t the case but he may have filed all of the paperwork and is on the straight and narrow.

If he’s not and DCAP issued a construction permit anyway, methinks that department just left the City of Chicago wide open for potential liability lawsuits.

I hope all of the work being done in the development is top quality and up to code. ‘Cause if someone is injured from non code compliant or shoddy work, the ensuing legal battle may make the city look really bad.

A big fat payout to grieving relatives may make them look even worse.

I’d hate to have to be the one to explain that to the Honorable Richard M. in the middle of his campaigning for yet another term.

Color Struck

I cannot pick a friggin paint color for my bathroom walls.

While the new shower backsplash looks great, I can't make up my mind. Light or dark? Eggshell or semi gloss? The choices are almost endless.

Based on the picture, what do you think? I'm trying to stay in the blue family.

I think I've ruled out light blues and despite what everyone has been telling me may go for the luxe looking deep blue family.

My theory is it will really make my white tub, toilet and pedestal sink pop.

At least I found a great hexagon white tile for the floor. Not only is it pretty and proportional to the glass mosaic tile of the shower backsplash, I stumbled upon it on the cheap (and I mean cheap) at Home Depot.

Will this bathroom ever get done?

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Take That, City Council

Lord Jesus.

The Honorable Richard M. Daley exercised his first ever veto today.

He did so against the big box ordinance passed by the city council on July 26th.

He has upped the ante in what proves to be a thoroughly entertaining fight between big box retailers, labor unions, Hizzoner & a rebellious city council.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is theatre of the highest magnitude. It don't get no better than this.

You may remember my post about my feelings on this big box brouhaha.

I hypothesize that the drama didn't jump off until Wal-mesee didn't pay the proper respect to the powers that be in our fair city and tried to do an end run around the "Chicago way" of doing business.

Some say that the ordinance is racially motivated as no one raised a peep about big box retailers when they were springing up like mushrooms on the north side but the minute the urban emerging markets were being probed (that's corporate speak for minority neighborhoods) the drama started.

Whether you believe either one, a mixture of the two or have a theory of your own this is gonna get messy.

But the bottom line is a sister still can't get reasonably priced goods and services within walking distance of the flat

I'd like to see the author of the big box ordinance, Alderman Joe Moore, schlep everything he needs to live and function on the bus or in a cart

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Caveat Emptor

Before I resume with the latest twist in the ongoing saga of my developer, let’s pause for a little self help session.

While I’ve focused on my developer in this blog, from what you nice people have been sending me he’s not the only developer executing questionable business and construction decisions.

The way the laws and ordinances in the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago stand any bozo can call him or herself a “developer.”

Unfortunately the onus is on you to do exhaustive due diligence on your developer and the condo development before you sign any contract.

Trust me cats and kittens there are few, if any, protections in the State of Illinois or the City of Chicago for the newly fleeced condo owner.

Lobbying your elected officials will hopefully make that a thing of the past.

Until that great day comes, I’m going to pass along a few tips from my soon to be released “Developer/Condo Checklist.”

That’s only the working title. It will change before I put it out to the masses to be downloaded for a mere $35.

Now granted I’m not reinventing the wheel. What I’m including on this checklist has been in past posts of “I Hate My Developer.”

None of this is any big secret.

With the click of a mouse all of you smart cookies can dig this stuff up for yourselves---for free might I add---and go on your merry way.

If your idea of a good time is going back through hundreds of my posts, please click away.

It has been my experience that even people familiar with the process of selecting a real estate agent, purchasing a condo, finding the best rate for your mortgage and coordinating a move are a little less than familiar on how to see if their developer or their development is on the level.

Unfortunately a sound education in this matter usually comes the hard way.

Payment is tendered in personal frustration and your hard earned cash in the form of special assessments.

If you’re gonna spend thousands of dollars investing in a piece of property, what’s another $35?

But I digress, ladies and gentlemen on to a few selected tips.

Before you put your name on the dotted line of any real estate contract find out the following:

What is the actual legal name of the condominium development?
Who is the developer?
Does the developer have partners?

Take the above information and hit the treasurer trove of governmental websites.

If you live in Illinois has the development been registered with the Secretary of State’s Office? Do a Corp\LLC search and find see what you unearth.

If you live in Cook County you can find out if the developer, any of his or her partners or the development (under it’s registered name with the Secretary of State) has any past or present lawsuits pending. You can find this information by doing a search on the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website.

When you get to the Clerk’s page click “online case info” link on the left hand side of the page, select full electronic docket search and then decide if you’d like to search either the civil, criminal or chancery (foreclosure) division. Then choose if you’d like to search by last name, filing date or case number.

Frankly speaking searching by name has always brought me the best results.

Obviously local laws and the availability of this information on-line will vary. We are fortunate enough in Cook County and in the State of Illinois to be able to access this information at the click of a mouse.

One of the holdups of the checklist is preparing my disclaimer and such legalese for you folks who live outside of Cook County, Illinois.

I want as many people as possible to benefit from my hard won knowledge but I also want to be very specific and clear what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.
It’s all about managing expectations.

If you know where to look and what to look for, most of the information is an open secret that’s just simply waiting for you to come along and take a look.

That’s all of the free nuggets I can reveal without giving away the store.

Hopefully I’ll have a comprehensive and informative product up on this site before Halloween. We’ll see.

Now if you want me to do the work for you, that’s a completely different matter.

However you choose to do it protect your interests concerning your condo, your rights as a consumer and as a soon to be property tax paying member of society---no one else is gonna do it for you.

A little nose poking and question asking will go a long way.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brevity or I Wouldn't Do That If I Were You

If you purchase a condo at 1512-1514 East Marquette you may find yourself in the same situation I’ve been chronicling for the past year.

Despite the fact I’d love to have a loyal reader as a neighbor, I wouldn’t want to put anyone else through the drama.

As of August 31st the building at the above address was granted a construction permit.

From what I understand the permit is supposed to be for “Replacing existing drywall partitions with new.”

The on-line description may have been edited for brevity because that’s the only way to explain way it didn’t mention anything about electrical work for the new central air conditioning units on the roof.

You doubt me? Please look at the realtor’s listing that describes all of the sparkling new amenities that the lucky buyers will be getting once they sign on the dotted line.

The permit’s brevity may have also stopped me from reading about the plumbing and how it’s being brought up to code.

I’m curious to know how the plumbing in a building built before low flow toilets, washers & dishwashers will be able to handle the increased water demands of six residents and their families.

My developer (and the developer of the 1512-1514 Marquette condos) surely will have listed all of this important infrastructure work in the complete permit application, right?

I was also under the impression that when one replaces drywall, that the electrical and plumbing would have to be reviewed as well. ‘Cause how can you tear down drywall and not affect the electrical and plumbing?

I’ll make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed when I file my freedom of information act request to see the full application.

I don’t want to accuse Mr. Knight of actions that he may have already taken.

Moreover, I’m sure he’s also going to replace that woeful back porch.

The big give away ladies and gentlemen on an old and more than likely non-code compliant porch would be the big X’s that form support crosses along the stairways and landings.

If you stand facing the porch and see those big “X’s” where a person can stand on the landing, you might want to ask if the porch will be replaced or if it will be brought up to code?

Now I can’t emphasize this enough so kindly pay attention: If you don’t get a satisfactory answer to the porch question move onto the next condo development.

You can name your first born after me as a small gesture of thanks.

Then of course if you want to come out of pocket for big money for a new code compliant porch some time in the future or face a possible lawsuit from an injury, please be my guest.

Speaking as someone who hasn’t quite paid off her own special assessment for our brand new porches---trust me you want to opt for the former option instead of the later.

Right now I will have to acquaint myself with how the Department of Construction and Permits approves permits for rehabbed condo developments.

Or is it possible that they weren’t given the true scope of the project?

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Let's Get It Sold

It's a sad day for our little slice of heaven.

A hard working, community oriented neighbor has decided to put her place on the market.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I have a---oh how shall I describe it---"fluid" relationship with some of my neighbors.

Sometimes the peace is kept and other times it's not.

More often than not with this particular person we had a lasting peace.

As I stated earlier, she is a hard working neighbor. She understood that owning property meant a little bit more than dropping an assessment check at the treasurer's front door every month.

It's gonna be tough to loose someone like that.

Nonetheless, Mama wants to go so lets get her place sold.

If you know anyone who wants to come on down---and might I add for a reasonable price---send 'em her way.

Tell her Woody sent you.