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Wicker Park Alderman Wins Latest Battle Over Future Of Old Double Door Space

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 11, 2017 10:27PM

double door photo via instagram

Even though Double Door is sadly gone from its longtime Wicker Park digs, there's still no small amount of drama swirling around the property it called home for more than 20 years, with landlord Brian Strauss remaining locked in contention with Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st). The latest win in the fight however went to Moreno, when a City Council Committee on Monday advanced a plan that would give the alderman greater control over how Strauss might use the space.

The plan that passed the Zoning Committee today—and which goes before the full City Council in October—would downzone the property, at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. That would put some tough hurdles in Strauss' path if he wanted to pursue a large-scale commercial development with the property—which would require aldermanic approval under the downzoning proposal. "They need to bring a plan to me. I am not rejecting any plans. They have not brought one in two years," Moreno said on Monday, according to the Tribune.

The downzoning that passed the committee is actually less stringent than the original one proposed by Moreno.

That original effort prompted a lawsuit from Strauss, which he filed in January against Moreno, plus the City of Chicago and the Zoning Committee. The suit alleges that Moreno carried out a "vindictive and irresponsible attack" against Strauss and that Moreno was motivated in his "spot zoning" proposal by "a personal and financial relationship" with Double Door ownership. (Strauss is carrying on with the lawsuit, the Tribune reports.) Moreno denies any such relationship and called the lawsuit frivolous.

This all comes of course in the wake of the protracted battle between Strauss and Double Door owners, which culminated in the club being booted in February. Strauss had insisted that ownership violated their tenancy lease.

The bitterness that had built up between Moreno and Strauss was on display in a video that captured a street-side argument between the two the day Double Door was evicted. "You can't sign new leases for your tenants. It's going to be an empty building with no income for you or your family. End of conversation," Moreno blasted in the clip, which surfaced in May. The alderman later said, "What started out as an amicable conversation became an intense one because we are both adamant about our stances."

Especially if the full Council does indeed go along with Moreno, we can probably bank on a degree of that intensity carrying on for the foreseeable future.