The owner of a two-flat ravaged by fire late last year at 417 Circle Ave. will not have to tear down her building after all.
After reviewing new estimates for reconstruction costs after a November fire badly damaged the interior, Michael Boyle, Forest Park’s director of Public Health and Safety, reversed an earlier ruling that the owner could repair the building only if she reconstructed it as a single-family home.
The two-flat, which was built in 1919, is located in an area zoned R-1 for single-family homes, exclusively. The two-flat is a legal nonconforming use because it was built before the zoning code was enacted. The zoning code stipulates that a nonconforming property that suffers more than 50 percent of its value in damage cannot be rebuilt, except in compliance with the code.
That would have meant property owner Amy Perry, an Oak Park resident, would have to tear down the two-flat and reconstruct a single-family home. However, Perry significantly revised an initial estimate of what it would cost to repair the damage. That new proposal is apparently less than half of the structure’s value.
“Primarily they changed the materials and methods of work,” Boyle said. “They substantially dropped the cost by going with different materials.”
Perry’s initial estimate on the cost of repairs was $330,658, according to village records. In February, Boyle sent Perry a letter denying her a permit to begin the repairs. In the letter, Boyle calculated the value of the building to be $477,759. Perry purchased the building in 2004 for $459,000.
A copy of the revised estimate was not immediately available. Both Perry and Boyle declined to specify the nature of the changes or the revised figure, but said only that the building materials being used are less expensive than those figured into the original estimate.
“There’s ideal and there’s practical,” Perry said. “I have to do what the village allows.”
Perry was seeking a variance form the zoning board of appeals to allow her to repair the property and maintain it as a two-flat. Monday night Boyle told the ZBA that because of the recently revised estimate on the cost of repairs, Perry no longer needed a variance and the matter was no longer before the ZBA.
“As it is able to be restored for less than 50 percent of the value, the denial was reversed and they will be allowed to proceed,” Boyle told the board.
ZBA member Richard Scafidi said he was glad the board did not have to decide the matter and that the building could be saved.
“It’s a nice building and I’m glad they were able to save it,” Scafidi said. Scafidi also acknowledged that the quality of the construction may not be good, given the cuts made to Perry’s reconstruction plan.
Newly elected village Commissioner Mike Curry, who is now the commissioner of Public Health and Safety and the former chairman of the ZBA, said he was pleased with the outcome.
“It’s refreshing to see that the 417 issue is now in the past and we can move forward with Ms. Perry actually reconstructing the home per her recently submitted plans, because in its current state not only does it negatively impact the neighboring houses, but it also negatively impacts the community,” Curry said.