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Construction permit issued

Yes! We finally have our construction permit from the City of Chicago to begin our renovations. Our contractor, Chas. Bender is getting started right away, and we expect a 4 month construction period. So summer it is for our opening! Tomorrow morning we start bright and early. It's been 18 months since we found this building of hard word to get us to this point. I can't wait to see it finally take shape in the physical world. It feels surreal, like it's not really happening. But I'm sure the jackhammers will pull me out of that. On to the next set of challenges, I say!

Lawyers, Bankers, Indian Chiefs

As we wait for the City of Chicago to issue our construction permit, I'm finalizing our construction loan with Old Second National Bank. They are a wonderfully healthy bank, and the construction loan we were offered 18 months ago is still coming through for us, in spite of the banking crisis. Bob Briski, our commercial lender is terrific. In fact, we wouldn't own the building without him. We had two weeks to close on this property-- which normally takes 2-3 months-- and he made it happen, while protecting us with all the usual due diligence.

Shovel in the Ground - Almost!

Our construction permit is in the final stages, and could be ready Monday or Tuesday of next week. Our contractor, Chas.Bender and I had planned on a February 1st start. I expect we will actually put the shovel in the ground in about a week-- perhaps February 9, 2009.

Picking up Rhonda today

Almost under construction

Boy, I sure know I've said that before. But we have the right budget, the right contractor, and have submitted for construction permit. I'm finalizing our construction loan and we're looking forward to beginning construction in early February, and expect to be under construction for four months.

We continue to salvage great materials from wonderfully unexpected places. So far, we've found bath fixtures, tile, doors, lighting, and lots of oak and maple trim. As the snow falls, we see the hope of spring!

Our Artistic Neighbors

Value Engineering

"Value Engineering" is the technical term for "holy ----, we are way over budget!" It's not unusual for construction costs to exceed an owner's budget. So the 'value engineering' process begins, where the design team, contractors and owner review the plans and try to wring dollars out of the design-- and where the owner has to make hard choices about what goes and what stays. As I participate in these meetings, my feelings are all over the map: energized and fascinated, impatient, all the way to thoughts that I would prefer a root canal.

Artist Installation

So while I flounder in the wasteland of trying to find the right contractor and budget, I still want to have our building serve some purpose. Thankfully, one of my neighbors put me in touch with Scott Jarrett, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He stages art installations in vacant buildings and was (and is always) looking for a site to display art using whatever salvage is on site. I meet Scott and find a delightfully enthusiastic young man who I know will show up and treat the building with love and care.

Two Steps Back

Just as we thought we would begin construction, we've experienced setbacks. We had selected a general contractor that would have undoubtedly been great at doing the work, but did not possess the financial resources or back office experience for a LEED project. We continue to search for the right set of skills. It reminds me of the 3+ months it took to find the design team, and it appears that finding the right general contractor will take longer.

Almost Under Construction

Logan Square Kitchen is about to begin construction within the next few weeks. We expect construction to last 4-6 months. We'll be upgrading water and utility services to the building, building a new roof, facade, and infrastructure. We will have three galleys in our commercial kitchen: two for pastry/baking, one for catering/prep. Galleys will rent on an hourly basis. Our dining room, available for private events will seat up to 75 for dinner.
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