The owner of a medical office building at 7234 Ogden Ave. in Riverside is asking the village to re-zone the property, which includes a 14,000-square-foot building and 39-space parking lot, so he can convert the structure into 12 condominiums.
Dr. Tahir Sheikh, who has owned the property for more than 30 years, will make his case for rezoning the property at a public hearing before the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission on May 23 at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road.
Presently, the property – which sits immediately west of the Loyola Medicine Professional Building at 3722 Harlem Ave. – is zoned B1 Business District, which does not allow ground-floor residential uses.
Sheikh, a psychiatrist who started his Riverside practice 37 years ago, is asking the village to reclassify his property as B1-TC, a transitional commercial zoning classification that allows broader residential uses, including on the ground floor.
Plans filed with the village’s community development department indicate that Sheikh wants to convert the offices into one- and-two-bedroom condo units, four on each of the building’s three floors.
The brick and synthetic stucco building at 7234 Ogden Ave. has two full floors above ground with a lower level that presents as a half-story from the exterior. It is somewhat awkwardly sited on the property, with the main entrance facing west.
There are seven parking spaces immediately adjacent to the west, with the rest of the parking located in the rear. Impervious surfaces cover almost the entirety of the property.
According to Riverside’s community development director, Sonya Abt, after Sheikh purchased the property he built an addition on to an existing mixed-use office/residential building and converted it to an all-office use.
Abt said the standards for having property rezoned are different from obtaining a zoning variation and include looking at the impact rezoning would have on adjacent properties, public gain versus the hardship imposed by the existing zoning and the length of time a property is vacant, among others.
Unlike a zoning variation, an applicant does not have to prove meeting every standard in order to qualify.
The property immediately west of the office building is zoned residential, but Abt said asking for that classification would have created zoning conflicts with respect to building setbacks and impervious surface coverage that don’t exist with the transitional business district classification.
The basis for Sheikh’s request, which he laid out in an April 2 zoning application to the village, is largely financial.
According to Sheikh, the building has had a difficult time attracting tenants, even at below-market rental rates. For the last three years, wrote Sheikh, the building has had an occupancy rate of about 15 percent.
“I have used three different real estate companies over the past three years,” Sheikh wrote to the village. “I have even tried auctioning the building. I was willing to accept less than $700,000 for a beautiful 14,000-square-foot building. All with no success.”
Sheikh said in 2016 the property appraised for $1.4 million and that he holds a mortgage of more than $700,000 on it. In paying $10,500 a month in mortgage payments, Sheikh wrote, he’s losing more than $120,000 a year on the largely vacant office building.
Perhaps helping Sheikh’s cause somewhat is that the property was zoned for residential use prior to 1983, he says.
“Riverside is a very desirable location for home ownership,” Sheikh wrote. “This will be a win-win situation for both the village and myself.”