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My Kingdom for a Zoning Change

By Matt Wood in News on Nov 15, 2005 4:48PM

2005_11_castle.jpgSo a man makes a fortune in real estate, starts his own hip-hop record label, and wants to enjoy his riches by building a castle, literally. What's wrong with that? Rudy Acosta's would-be neighbors have a big problem with his plans to build a 6,700 square foot, castle-like mansion on a vacant lot in Independence Park near Lawndale and Parkview Terrace overlooking the Kennedy Expressway. The home would feature 42-foot high turrets, including one overlooking the highway emblazoned with the coat of arms for Acosta's label, The Legion Records (danger, spinning graphics!)

Neighbors are pissed because Acosta's castle would dwarf their homes, sitting five feet closer to the street with towers up to 16 feet taller than other homes on the block. They also claim he used political clout to score a zoning change for the lot that would allow him to build his manor. One of Acosta's lawyers, State Rep. John Fritchey, filed an affidavit attesting that he notified residents of the zoning change. The residents say they never heard about it, and expressed concerns over family ties in the deal. Acosta's other attorney is James Banks, nephew of Alderman William Banks, chairman of the City Council Zoning Committee that approved the zoning change. James Banks is also Fritchey's brother-in-law. We thinkest thou hast some explaining to do mi' Lord.

Everyone involved denies any wrongdoing of course, and the city's Inspector General declined comment about an investigation into the matter. Fritchey couldn't produce any records of having notified residents of the zoning change, but thinks that the neighbors have a problem with Acosta and his hip-hop ties personally. The Legion Records is relatively new, but they signed local underground natives Do or Die earlier this year. Chicagoist thinks that the neighbors' complaints about the shady deal are mainly a convenient way to keep Acosta from turning their street into a theme park. But we say as long as he promises a fireworks show and a parade once a week, welcome to the neighborhood Sir Rudy.