CTA releases list of buildings needed to be razed for Belmont overpass

The CTA has released the list of nearly 20 buildings in the Lakeview neighborhood it says must be torn down as part of a $320 million project to build an elevated bypass and untangle trains on the Red, Purple and Brown lines.

Many of the buildings are in the 3200 block of North Wilton Avenue and the 3300 block of North Clark Street, as well as the 900 block of West Roscoe Street and West Newport avenues. Sixteen of the buildings are near the proposed elevated bypass at the Clark junction north of the Belmont station, and three buildings are between the Lawrence and Bryn Mawr stations on the North Side.

Eleven vacant lots would also be affected, bringing to 30 the number of properties involved in the project.

You can see the entire list of affected properties HERE.

The properties, according to Google maps, include:

• Residential buildings from 3240 N. Wilton Ave. to  3252 N. Wilton Ave.

• Smokers Zone at 3328 N. Clark St. (rear building only)

• Moksha yoga center at 3334-3344 N. Clark St.

• Bolat African Cuisine at 3346-3348 N. Clark St.

• Peg’s Pantry, 3366 N. Clark St.

• Johnny O’Hagan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant at 947 W. Roscoe St.

• Second Stage Theatre at 3406 N. Sheffield Ave.

• A restaurant at 3401-3407 N. Clark St.

• A restaurant at 3413 N. Clark St.

• Beggars Pizza and Beer bar at 3415-3419 N. Clark St.

• Clark St. Beach at 3421 N. Clark St.

• Residential property at 947-949 W. Newport

In making the list public, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said acquisition of the properties isn’t a “done deal” and public hearings will be held.

The CTA said in a release that it will follow the guidelines of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act as it acquires the properties.

“This includes offering property owners at minimum the fair market value for their property or the original purchase price in the event that fair market value is lower than the original purchase price,” the CTA said.

The agency on April 17 released an artist’s rendering of the bypass tracks, which were shown encased in an open-air tube, somewhat similar to the design on the Green Line at the Illinois Institute of Technology campus station at 35th and Bronzeville.

The flyover bypass is expected to start in the area around School Street and run for about two blocks, officials said. The height and length of the proposed bypass tracks are the subject of ongoing preliminary design and engineering, officials said.

The existing configuration at the thicket of tracks known as Clark Junction requires Red and Purple line trains to stop and wait for Brown Line trains to cross. The CTA said it results in delays as long as three minutes for more than 40 percent of weekday trains – affecting about 150,000 riders daily.

Upon completion of the bypass, the CTA will be able to run six to nine more Red Line trains per hour during rush periods, officials said.

The idea of the CTA forcibly purchasing properties — for the second time in a decade along the Brown Line corridor — jolted some people who live and work in the area and learned of the transit agency’s proposal April 17.

At that time, Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged demolition plans weren’t ideal, but said they were necessary to increase and improve train service along all three lines.

“We’re going to increase the capacity by 30 to 50 percent of moving trains on time rather than the three- to- four-minute wait,” he said at the time. “And I will tell you, as someone who took the Brown Line today, you wait before you can transfer. And you lose time.”

But Lakeview residents, some of whom learned of the project April 17 as the CTA hand-delivered letters and knocked on doors, were concerned about other issues closer to their pocketbook.

Megan Freeman, a renter whose apartment building in the 3200 block of North Wilton Avenue would be torn down, received one of the letters. She ripped it open, then read it with her mouth falling open in dismay. The announcement just prompted more questions, rather than giving answers, she said at the time.

“I like this neighborhood a lot. My rent is relatively cheap, I think, because we live under the tracks and it gets relatively noisy. It would be kind of sad’’ to move, she said.

Ellen Hughes’ two-flat building in the 3200 block of North Wilton Avenue isn’t directly in the CTA’s cross hairs, but she said the flyover tracks would pass too close to her windows and ruin the neighborhood she has called home since 1983.

“Our property values are going to go down because of this big, ridiculously looking up-and-over flyover thing in front of our house,’’ said Hughes at the time. Hughes, 64, rides the Red Line to her job as a grant writer for nonprofit organizations.

She said she has never waited more than a minute for a train, and even then it’s because there is another train already in the station at Belmont. Hughes wants the CTA to spend its money on more pressing infrastructure needs, and she hopes her alderman, Thomas Tunney, 44th, will take up the cause.

Most but not all 16 parcels that would be demolished are residential.

At Beer on Clark, a bar at 3415 N. Clark St., manager Ryan Findlay said at the time he was upset when he read the news about the businesses and houses possibly being razed. Then he put the CTA’s plans, which call for work to start as early as 2017, into context.

“Let’s be honest … it’s going to take five or six years,” Findlay, said. “Look at all the businesses and residents in this neighborhood. We are not going out without a fight.”

Tribune reporter Jon Hilkevitch contributed to this report.

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