Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS
C. DONOVAN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT. Rehearing denied May 22, 1968.
Petitioner in eminent domain proceedings appeals from a jury award and judgment of $97,440 in favor of the owner of Parcel E Western National Bank of Cicero, as Trustee under Trust No. 498. Defendant cross appeals from the denial of its motion to dismiss the complaint.
Petitioner instituted condemnation proceedings on March 4, 1965 (Circuit Court No. 65 L 7227) for five parcels of land to be used for school purposes. On July 14, 1965, another petition was filed in the same case seeking nine and one-half acres of unsubdivided land and one acre of subdivided property which consisted of eight lots designated as Parcel 4 and also referred to as Parcel E. On July 14, 1965, another petition was filed in a new case (Circuit Court No. 65 L 20763) seeking the same property. In that case a change of venue was granted on November 3, 1965, as to Parcel 4, and the case reassigned for a separate trial as to Parcel 4. Thereafter the cases were consolidated.
This appeal by petitioner and the cross appeal of Western National Bank of Cicero as Trustee under Trust No. 498 (hereinafter referred to as defendant) emanates from the proceedings in the separate trial as to Parcel 4 also referred to as Parcel E.
In the consolidated case petitioner sought to condemn ten and one-half acres of land located in the vicinity of O'Hare Airport bounded by Cumberland Avenue on the west and Pittsburgh Avenue on the east. Balmoral Avenue was to the south and the city limits (close to Bryn Mawr Avenue) were the northern boundary. Defendant's eight lots fronted on Pittsburgh Avenue each with 58-foot frontage and a depth of 107.48 feet. The evidence showed that the property was zoned R-2, single-family residence, and each lot in the subdivision bore a covenant restricting it to such use.
On appeal petitioner's principal contention is that the conduct of defense counsel in closing argument was so prejudicial as to deny petitioner a fair trial.
Herman O. Walther testified that he was a real estate appraiser with extensive experience and that he had taught real estate appraising. He said that there were many other areas in the City of Chicago still being developed for houses and that in the immediate vicinity of the subject property, just west of Cumberland Avenue, there were 100 vacant acres and three and one-half miles east of Pittsburgh Avenue there was an only partially developed new home area. He stated that the highest and best use of the eight lots was for single-family residences and that each lot was worth $8,000.
Albert J. Schorsch, Jr. testified under subpoena. He stated that he and his family had been developing property in the area for about ten years, that eighteen months earlier one of the companies in which he and his family were involved sold a lot on the corner of Pittsburgh and Balmoral to another of the Schorsch companies for $9,000 and that this was not an arm's length transaction. He said that the lot was 60 feet wide and 124 feet deep but that the trend was toward building houses on lots 50 feet wide.
Raymond Cleveland stated that he was a real estate broker and that he had recently participated in the sale of a property 48 feet wide and 141 feet deep and within one-half mile of the subject property for the price of $7,500. He said that the lot fronted on Cumberland Avenue across the street from a large shopping center and three or four lots away from a gas station and that the houses in that area sold for between twenty and thirty thousand dollars.
Edwin J. Feulner testified that he was a broker, manager and appraiser of real estate and that he was familiar with the area of the subject property. He said that the highest and best use of the eight lots was R-2 single-family residences and that as such they were worth $140 per front foot ($8,120 for 58-foot frontage).
Albert Schorsch, Jr. (who had also been called as a witness by petitioner) testified that his organizations were in competition with defendants and owned the property immediately south of defendant's subdivision. He said that the highest and best use of the subject property would be under R-3 general residence zoning. He then testified:
Under R-3 zoning you might be able to build one flat on each parcel of 2,500 square feet and on a lot 46 1/2, maybe slightly larger than this, you could build a two flat. You could get nine total units out of that group of 8 lots and if you took into consideration the ownership of adjacent lots you could get 10 lots because all you need is one more front foot to make the 10th lot. I have an opinion of the fair cash market value of 10 such units as of July 15, 1965. I believe each of the units 46 1/2 x 107.48, that each parcel that size would be worth $11,000 which works out to be $220 $225 a front foot. My opinion is the same if the zoning remains the same.
Frank Syms testified that he was an appraiser, broker, manager and financier of land transactions; that an area of land to the east of the subject property separated by one vacant parcel and Pittsburgh Avenue had been developed with homes ranging in value from $30,000 to $45,000 by the Schorsch interests, James C. Moreland and Son and the beneficial owners of the subject property and that there is a relationship between the value of vacant and improved property. He said that the highest and best use was for single-family residences and that each lot would have a value of $10,400 or $179 per front foot or a total of $83,200 for the eight lots. He stated that there was a scarcity of comparable sales because most developers sold property with houses as a complete package.
William F. Moreland stated that he was a broker and developer and was president of the company of James C. Moreland and Son which had developed property in the area. He testified that the highest and best use was single-family residences, that the fair cash value of the eight lots depended on whether their sale was separate or bulk, ...