WICKER PARK — In the wake of his Election Day defeat, Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno is aiming to make some changes to his living situation.
Moreno introduced a zoning ordinance March 13 — about two weeks after losing the 1st Ward election — to convert his Wicker Park single-family home to a two-flat, according to legislation he filed with the city.
The zoning change would allow Moreno to revert his home, in the 1300 block of North Leavitt Street, back to its original configuration. The outgoing alderman had previously converted the building from a two-flat to a single-family home when he got married, according to his chief of staff, Raymond Valadez.
“The Alderman is no longer married, and he no longer needs all the space for a single family residence, so he wants to re-convert the building to what it was originally, a two-flat with two residential units,” Valadez said in an email.
He added: “When he converted the building to a single family residence, he lost the grandfathering two-flat rights, so he needs to up-zone the property to legally re-convert the building so it has two residential units.”
Moreno is not looking to make any changes to the building’s footprint. According to the legislation, “all proposed renovation work will be to the interior of the building.”
Moreno bought the home in 2006 for $685,000, according to Cook County property records. He paid off his mortgage in 2011, according to the legislation.
In 2012, DNAinfo reported the alderman granted zoning changes to a few his neighbors, allowing them to build mansions.
When Moreno converted his two-flat into a single-family home, he was doing what a lot of Chicagoans do — using existing housing to fit his needs. Some say the practice, which has become increasingly common in Chicago, is doing damage to the city’s rental supply.
But Moreno’s latest move — reverting the building back to a two-flat — is less common. A homeowner might do this in an effort to downsize and/or make money by renting out the units.
Valadez said the zoning change will go to the impacted neighborhood group for review before it’s sent to the City Council’s Committee on Zoning — likely in April — and then to the full City Council.
“Like all other applicants who have sought a zoning change in Wicker Park, the Alderman’s zoning application has been referred to the Wicker Park Committee for its review and recommendation,” he said.
Valadez said Moreno is planning to invoke Rule 14 at the hearings. The controversial rule allows aldermen to recuse themselves from voting if they have a financial conflict of interest in the matter at hand.
Moreno lost the Feb. 26 election to longtime community organizer and public policy professional Daniel La Spata.
La Spata won with stunning decisiveness, capturing 61 percent of the vote to Moreno’s 39 percent.
Moreno was one of three incumbent aldermen to lose their seats outright. He has held the seat since 2011.
In a statement issued after the election, Moreno said “it has been my honor to serve as the alderman of the greatest ward in Chicago.”
“As a 1st ward resident, I will continue to remain engaged in our community and will continue to advocate for the causes that are meaningful to many of us. Albeit in a different capacity, I look forward to working with you, my neighbors and fellow 1st ward residents, in the future to collectively keep our neighborhoods great.
After spending time with friends and family, I will be back to share future plans with you all. Our work is far from done.”
Read the ordinance below:
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