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Company to pay $180K for parking cars on city lots near United Center

Peoples Stadium Parking had been parking cars on city-owned land just east of the United Center. This lot in the 1700 block of West Madison contains two parcels owned by the city. | Alex Wroblewski / Sun-Times files

The operator of a parking lot near the United Center that parked cars on city-owned land for years without paying rent has agreed to pay City Hall $180,000.

Peoples Stadium Park LLC, owned by the family of property-tax attorney Ronald Shudnow, operates a parking lot on the north side of Madison Street two blocks east of the stadium. There are two city-owned lots right in the middle of Shudnow’s property where it also was charging people to park, even though it doesn’t own them and paid no rent.

Under a deal reached Nov. 28, City Hall will give Peoples Stadium Park a two-year business license so it can keep operating on property the company owns in the 1700 block of Madison and Warren streets — but not on the two city-owned lots.

Stephen Novack, an attorney for the company, said Peoples “voluntarily stopped using those parcels” in November 2016.

It’s unclear whether Peoples eventually might be able to make a deal with the city to resume parking cars on the city-owned land.

That’s something Shudnow’s company did for two decades until December 2014, when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed the city had been getting no rent or property taxes from the company.

City Hall — which had gotten a complaint more than a year earlier about the free parking on city-owned property — responded to the Sun-Times’ reporting by trying to put up barriers to keep Peoples from parking cars on the city-owned land. Then, it moved to revoke the business license, declaring, “Abuse of taxpayer resources will not be tolerated under this administration.”

But Peoples sued to block the city from taking its license for the parking lot, which draws draw fans attending Blackhawks and Bulls games and concerts who don’t mind walking a little farther to pay a couple of bucks less than what it costs to park at the United Center.

At the time, Shudnow pointed out that City Hall collected taxes on every car his company parks on the city property, saying: “They got a great deal. It’s not costing them anything, and they’re getting money for it.”

His company apparently started using the city-owned lots when Richard M. Daley was mayor and the city began acquiring land for construction of the United Center. City Hall sued in 1996 to acquire the Shudnow property but settled the case, agreeing to let his family park cars on the two city lots only until 2001.

Shudnow tried to renew the deal but got no response from the city, which repeatedly renewed his license to park cars on the land anyway.

Under the deal, Peoples has six months to comply with city licensing and zoning requirements — which include obtaining valid driveway permits, keeping parking cars from being parked in the alley, paving the lots, striping the spaces, setting aside accessible spaces, providing landscaping and identifying the boundaries of the land it owns on either side of the city’s property.

PAGE 1 FROM SUN-TIMES’ INITIAL REPORT DEC. 18, 2014