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City of Chicago v. Central Standard Life Ins.

JANUARY 31, 1966.




Appeal from Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DONALD S. McKINLAY, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.


Rehearing denied February 21, 1966.

This is a condemnation proceeding involving one of the parcels of land required for the Southwest Highway, part of the Comprehensive Superhighway System of the City of Chicago. The City appeals from the verdict and judgment because of trial errors and seeks a new trial.

The theory of the City is that "the jury arrived at an erroneous and excessive verdict as to the award for the property taken and for damages to the remainder of defendant's property because of palpably erroneous rulings by the court and instructions given and refused by the court and because of prejudice induced against petitioner by the remarks and arguments of counsel for defendant and by the remarks of the court to the jury and to counsel for the petitioner and by the court's rulings. The trial was conducted in such an atmosphere of sympathy for the defendant and prejudice against the City of Chicago that the jury could not possibly bring in a fair verdict. . . . ."

The property being taken is part of the holding of defendant F.W. Means and Company. The business of Means and Company, operated under the name of Chicago Towel Company, is renting out and servicing (washing and cleaning) towels, uniforms and dust control materials.

The holding of Means is improved with a complex of seven buildings and subsidiary structures, lying on the west side of Wabash Avenue between East 25th Street and East 26th Street on the South Side of Chicago. The east boundary is 350 feet on Wabash Avenue, commencing 50 feet south of East 25th Street and extending south to the middle of the block. The west boundary is 400 feet, commencing at East 25th Street and extending south along the east line of a public alley between Wabash and State Street. There is 50 feet of frontage on East 25th Street, east and adjoining the public alley.

The entire land area is 65,745 square feet. The building floor space is 77,027 square feet, consisting of 23,520 square feet used for office space, 43,580 square feet for garage and truck repair space, and 9,927 square feet for loft and storage space. The area is zoned M-1-3, restricted manufacturing use, permitting processing uses, light manufacturing and automobile repair work.

In 1964, F.W. Means and Company was using the Wabash Avenue premises for (1) its general administrative offices, and (2) its "fleet operations" — servicing and repairing the 1,300 trucks it used in its operations throughout the City of Chicago and the country. Its laundry plants were in other locations in Chicago, and in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin. On April 3, 1964, Means and Company moved its administrative and personnel offices to 35 East Wacker Drive in Chicago, where it occupied 20,000 square feet. The land being taken will include all of buildings Nos. 1 and 4, one-half of building No. 2, and approximately 400 square feet of the rear of building No. 3. In sum, approximately one-third of the office space and one-third of the garage space will be taken.

In 1964, at the time the petition to condemn was filed, the Means holding at 25th Street and Wabash Avenue was in the midst of a system of city streets which gave access to all parts of the city, with main arteries to the Loop such as State Street, Wabash Avenue, Michigan Avenue, Indiana Avenue and South Parkway.

On the property acquired north of 25th Street, there is to be built part of the connecting link between the Southwest Expressway and Lake Shore Drive, primarily an east and west road at this point and depressed about 20 feet below present level. The Southwest Expressway will extend from Lake Shore Drive to LaGrange Road and a connection with Route 66, and connects with all other major city expressways.

At Wabash Avenue, north of the Means holding, there will be no bridge or viaduct over the depressed highway. Bridges will cross over the expressway at South State Street and at Michigan Avenue, one block west and east respectively. Part of the acquired Means holding will be used in the relocation of 25th Street, so as to provide an east service drive or road on the south side of the expressway at the grade level of the present East 25th Street. It will not be possible to go directly north on Wabash Avenue across the Southwest Expressway from any part of the remainder of the Means holding. After the completion of the expressway, a circuitous route will be required for any north traffic to and from the Means premises.

The witnesses for the City included an architect and engineer and two valuation witnesses, Richard J. Leyden and William Kaplan. The witnesses for the defendant included an engineer and a contractor and valuation witnesses, Hoyt Thompson and Clifford Zoll.

All of the valuation witnesses testified that prior to the taking by the City, the highest and best use of defendant's property was the use to which it was being put — namely, the principal offices of a service company with a large fleet operation, in which its administrative offices could be housed and in which its major overhaul maintenance on its vehicles could be performed. The fair cash market value of the defendant's entire property for such use and the value of the part taken was in the opinion of the valuation witnesses as follows:

For City Value of Whole Value of Part Taken

Richard J. Leyden $325,000 $83,300 William Kaplan 327,500 83,900

For Defendant

Hoyt Thompson $391.500 $100,600 Clifford Zoll ...

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