WEST RIDGE — A huge West Ridge retail complex built a decade ago but never used could get new life as a parking garage.
The 62,000-square-foot building known as Monsoon Plaza has sat vacant since it was built at the height of the Great Recession at 6301 N. Western Ave.
The red brick building features several arched windows and doorways. It was built amid a redevelopment of the busy block that also included the razing of the Nortown Theater across the street.
As the Monsoon building sat empty, so did the vacant Nortown lot, which finally was turned into a Wendy’s.
Now the Monsoon’s new owner — car dealership magnate Joe Perillo — is trying to use the building for the first time in a decade.
The building won’t house retail or other commercial tenants — at least for the time being. Instead, Perillo is asking for the city’s permission to allow it to operate as a parking lot for nearby neighbors.
Perillo wants the city to rezone the building to allow for a parking lot that would offer 131 parking spots for rent on a monthly basis, said Nick Ftikas, attorney for Perillo.
Perillo wants to “at least get the parking component up and operating,” Ftikas said.
Businessman Amrit Patel built the massive retail complex just south of the Western and Devon intersection in 2008. It includes ground-floor retail and parking on upper floors. Patel never found tenants for the structure, and in 2009 lost the building in foreclosure after defaulting on an $8.8 million construction loan, Crain’s Chicago Business reported at the time.
Perillo, who is a real estate investor outside his dealerships, bought the structure in 2015 for $1.5 million, Cook County property records show. The businessman is hoping to operate the building’s upper floors as a parking garage while looking for other tenants.
The 131 parking spaces would be rented out to nearby residents for about $125-$150 a month, Ftikas said. Renters will be able to access the garage via an electronic key fob system, and security cameras will be installed throughout the facility.
“The focus is to give some [parking] relief for those who live or work in the area,” the zoning attorney said at a community meeting on the proposal.
Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) said the plan would help alleviate parking problems in the area, but that the best use of the building would be to house commercial tenants. Silverstein’s office held a public meeting on the rezoning request Monday.
“The end goal is to find some tenants,” she said. “We don’t want to leave the storefronts vacant.”
While the parking garage could help those living near Western and Devon, it won’t do much for the businesses in the area, said Eva Angelakos, who owns Smilin’ Jim’s Saloon and is a landlord in the area.
“It’s an eyesore,” she said of the building. “I think those [parking] spots will go right away. It just doesn’t benefit me.”
Angelakos proposed earmarking a small number of parking spots for hourly parking to help out nearby business owners, which Ftikas said they would consider.
The proposal still needs to be approved by the city’s zoning committee and the City Council.
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