October 27, 2005

Pioneer Press, 10/27: Questions remain on status of Wendy's lease agreement

It's the story that just won't die. TCA worked a deal with Wendy's back in June. Reportedly, that deal was contingent on getting a special use permit for a drive-through. The community didn't like that idea. TCA closed the club. Oops, Wendy's doesn't want that location after all. The fast food giant withdrawals their permit application. TCA didn't like that.

Questions remain on status of Wendy's lease agreement
by Amy Le
October 27, 2005

Questions remain on status of Wendy's lease agreement When Wendy's signed a 15-year lease agreement in April with Tennis Corporation of America to take over the site of Edens Athletic Club and convert the property into a new restaurant, TCA President Steven Schwartz said he thought it was a "done deal."

A recent notice indicates it may be otherwise.

Earlier this month, Schwartz said he received a letter from Wendy's notifying him of the company's decision to dissolve the lease agreement. Despite the letter, Schwartz maintains that "the deal is still on."

Endy Zemenides, a zoning attorney for Wendy's International Inc., confirms that they have terminated their lease agreement with Chicago-based TCA.

Zemenides, who spoke with Pioneer Press earlier this month, declined further comment explaining the company's decision.

He did, however, say that Wendy's has withdrawn their application for a special-use permit for a drive-through facility at the site, 5130 N. Cicero Ave. The lease agreement for the property had been contingent upon the Zoning Board of Appeals' approval of the application.

The request for the special-use was originally scheduled for the board's agenda for July 15. But opposition against the Wendy's from neighbors on the 5100 block of North La Crosse Avenue moved Alderman Patrick Levar, 45th Ward, to solicit a 60-day continuance with the board. At the ZBA hearing Oct. 21, officials announced the company had withdrawn its request.

Forest Glen resident Wesley Zameda, whose home backs up to the former fitness club, said he's "thrilled by the news" and looks forward to "not having to put up with the smell of french fries and burgers." Zameda and fellow residents spent the past four months organizing a campaign to save the Edens. The club, a popular full-service gym, had been open for more than 30 years at its Cicero Avenue location. Despite their efforts, the club officially closed its doors Sept. 30.

During their campaign, the group received 297 signatures on a petition objecting to the construction and operation of a Wendy's restaurant on Cicero Avenue. Zameda and fellow residents attended the meeting Friday and were pleased that the application was withdrawn.

"Everybody told us it was going to be a done deal, but we kept pushing," Zameda said. "With the help of the alderman (Levar) and the community, we were able to keep (Wendy's) from coming."

Not everyone is celebrating the withdrawal. Schwartz said TCA still owns the property, and according to their lease agreement, Wendy's is still listed as the current tenant.

"We closed our business in conjunction with the lease agreement," Schwartz said. "The period to terminate that agreement has long expired. The lease will be in full effect and I expect to hand over the keys (to Wendy's) on Nov. 1."

The current zoning on the Cicero Avenue property would permit a restaurant, so with or without the drive-through, Wendy's can still open for business, Schwartz said.

For his part, Zameda said he and his neighbors plan to oppose any fast food restaurant seeking to take over the property.

"Winter is coming soon, and we don't want to see that building vacant," he said. "But we will not support a restaurant there. We'd like to get another health club or some kind of business that could benefit everyone in the community."

Source: Pioneer Press

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