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Permit Purgatory

The design is complete. The general contractor is on board. The funding is committed. So how come the Forty Acres Fresh Market store still looks like this,

instead of this?

The site of the upcoming Forty Acres Fresh Market store was formerly a Salvation Army Thrift store. It requires a complete renovation in order to function as a full-service grocery store.

In the city of Chicago any building improvements that require architectural drawings must have a permit prior to starting any construction, demolition, or repair work.

Since the last week of August 2022, this project has been in some phase of the permit application process.

The Chicago Building Department returned the first round of review comments to the project architect in October 2022. After a redesign to accommodate truck loading revised drawings were submitted in December 2022.

After a weeks long standoff over walls and fire paths with the Fire Prevention code reviewer, the project was granted two Alternative Code Approval Requests (ACARs) that saved it from yet another redesign.

While receiving the ACARs was a major hurdle to clear, it does not automatically result in the issuance of a construction permit. It simply means we get to resubmit the application for a third time and the city will give the project a pass on two areas they had previously been unwilling to approve.

The architect submitted the updated application with revisions, notes, and the precious ACARs on June 1, 2023. On June 2, 2023 the city kicked the application back because there was an issue with the general contractor's registration with the city.

Thankfully, that was resolved in less than 24 hours...only for the Building Department to route the application to zoning for a second review. This trip back through zoning is supposedly an expedited one. However, when it comes to the city's definition of expedited,

The expediter suspects that the new loading dock in the plans could be an issue. If the city does not give zoning approval, there are no more ACARs available for this project. We will need to do a redesign. Did I mention that redesigns are a six to eight weeks process?

So the fate of store construction is in the city's hands. All we can do right now is wait

and pray we make it through zoning.


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