Neighbors concerned about heritage center street parking in Park Ridge
Judy Barclay, of the Kalo Foundation, addresses the Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission about special approvals required for the organization to operate the Iannelli Studios Heritage Center at 255 N. Northwest Highway. | Jennifer Johnson~Sun-Times M
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:19AM
PARK RIDGE — Visitors to Park Ridge’s Iannelli Studios Heritage Center may find plenty of available street parking around the historic building, but some neighbors would prefer they park their cars elsewhere.
Residential street parking was an issue raised during a June 26 meeting of the Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission, which considered two zoning requests from the Kalo Foundation regarding the heritage center at 255 N. Northwest Highway.
The commission voted in favor of establishing a “heritage center” as a special use in a B-1, retail and office, district and then voted to recommend Park Ridge City Council approval of a special-use permit for Iannelli Studios.
The special-use, though, requires that the Kalo Foundation, which owns the studio, “promote and publicize the use of alternative parking lots” to any visitors of the center.
“Most of our neighbors happen to think we’re good neighbors there and we want to remain that way,” said Judy Barclay, a Kalo representative who addressed Planning and Zoning Commission. “We don’t want to do anything to offend our neighbors.”
A small group of residents expressed concerns about overflow parking in the neighborhood. During a recent event at the studio, held by the Park Ridge Rotary Club, a number of cars had parked on residential streets for several hours and some residents were unhappy about that.
Atul Karkhanis, who lives a block from Iannelli Studios, took photographs of vehicles parked in the area during the Rotary event and asked for assurances that Kalo would steer visitors to other parking locales.
Root Street resident Bobbi Oschger said not having a driveway requires her to park her car on the street in front of her home. If Kalo holds large events there will be nowhere for residents to park their own cars, she said.
“Kalo has publicly stated that they have very ambitious plans to have many, many more events and also hold numerous classes at the Iannelli Studios,” Oschger said. “Kalo visitor parking on Root and Elm streets will only get worse without intervention from the city of Park Ridge.”
Commissioners urged the Kalo Foundation to use written notices and the organization’s website to get visitors to use a parking lot across the street belonging to St. Andrews Lutheran Church. The church has given the Kalo Foundation permission to use the lot during special events, according to an e-mail from a church representative. Kalo will also require a parking exception because the property does not have the minimum number of spaces required under the city’s Zoning Ordinance.
Barclay, who is a frequent advocate of developers adhering to the city’s zoning laws, said she understands the neighbors’ concerns.
“We’re going to do what it takes to be good neighbors. That’s our goal,” she said.
The Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, which was once the home and studio of artist and Pickwick Theatre designer Alfonso Iannelli, has already hosted several public events since the Kalo Foundation purchased the property last year. Kalo representatives hope to hold classes, exhibits and special events related to Park Ridge’s artistic past and present.
Though improvements are planned for the interior of the building the exterior will not change, Barclay said. The building received local historic landmark designation earlier this year.
If approved by the City Council later this summer a heritage center designation and special-use permit would allow someone to live in the residential portion of Iannelli Studios. Barclay said a member of the Kalo Foundation is now living there and is serving as caretaker of the property.
The Kalo Foundation purchased the building with community donations. The nonprofit organization will continue to rely on donations and fundraising in order to cover costs of maintaining the building, Barclay said.
“You have to keep thinking outside the box to get money,” she said.
A current fundraising effort involves the sale of old Pickwick Theatre seats that were recently replaced.