“I have owned and operated a nine-unit storefront commercial building located at 1105 W. Chicago for over 30 years. This year my proposed reassessment went from $263,000 to $772,000 – almost a 300% increase!”

“If that reassessment were to stick, real estate taxes are estimated to be 94% of my gross rents. Even if my gross rents increased to pre-pandemic levels, estimated real estate taxes would still be 68% of gross rents. No building can operate at those tax rates.”

“My tenants are just smaller businesses. I can’t raise their rents 300%.”

“I elected not to raise rents the last two years because of the situation my tenants were in with COVID shutdowns. If my tenants don’t have any business due to the pandemic, that’s not their fault. What can I do?”

“I’m definitely appealing the assessment. There’s no explanation for such a rapid and huge increase.”

“I purchased the building with my husband in 1986, and at the time, it was a manufacturing company that made electrical fences and cattle prods for farms, and various kinds of electrical products. They were moving to Minnesota, and they sold the building. I think they owned it since the 1930s. The building was actually built in 1886. So when we bought, it was 100 years old.”

“It was designed by the same architect and in the same year as Yondorf Hall, which is a landmark building at the corner of North and Halsted. We found out that it was also originally a Yondorf clothing store. The area was retail-heavy in the early 20th century, but there was not too much going on in the area when we bought it.”

“My tenants are smaller businesses. In the back, is Chicago Dramatists, which basically fosters playwrights, and they’re my original tenant. They’ve been there since 1988, and they teach classes in writing and produce plays that have been written by their network of playwrights. They’ve had a tough couple of years with COVID-19 shutting down theaters.”

“Luckily, the coffee shop and the liquor store have survived, and they seem to be fine at this point because that’s now picking up as one of the busiest transit corners in the city. Pre-pandemic there would be 30 or 40 people changing from the bus to the ‘L’ during rush hour every five or 10 minutes, so when people stopped commuting during the pandemic, it cut down on their traffic and potential business.”

“The second floor has three offices including my office which a couple of people share with me and do related preservation work. The other two offices were occupied by a health care company, but their employees worked mostly on computers all day. So once the pandemic hit, they gave up one and retained one of their offices, but basically mothballed the one they kept, in case they ever wanted to come back. However, they’re all still remote working. That left a vacancy on the second floor, and I haven’t yet found anybody interested in it.”

“The third floor has two live-work places and an office. One is an event space that the proprietors also live in so they’re having issues since COVID cancelled many events.”

“I have good relationships with my tenants, so I do everything I can to help them. My husband and I hoped to pass the building on to our son, yet these taxes put business and property owners in a tough spot.”

“My 2020 taxes increased to 32% of my monthly gross rental income from 21%. That’s an 11% increase in a non-reassessment year when there was no change in market value of my building. I received no COVID reduction even though it’s a small commercial property. My rents went down due to vacancy and rent non-payments, but my taxes went up. It’s not possible to operate the building if this continues.”

“I don’t want to sell, but even if I did, you can’t sell a building whose income can’t even cover the taxes. If I don’t pay, I’d probably lose the building and my tenants would have to move.”

“It’s a lose-lose for the landlords and the tenants, small businesses and their customers.”

Vicki Granacki
Landlord, retired historic preservation consultant
Chicago, Illinois