Tunney turns millionaire by selling the land beneath his Ann Sather restaurant

The popular restaurant at 909 W. Belmont Ave. will remain open at least for the next 10 years under a sale/lease-back arrangement with Tim Glascott, a real estate investor who owns his own Irish pub. After that, Glascott will be free to build a five- or six-story transit-oriented development near the CTA’s Belmont station.

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Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) during a recent interview with Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times

If the new chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee wasn’t a millionaire already, he sure is now — times 10.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) disclosed Tuesday that he is selling the valuable land on the 900 block of West Belmont Avenue that houses his Ann Sather Restaurant to Tim Glascott, a real estate investor and owner of Glascott Saloon.

Tunney will get $10 million in the deal.

The “extended lease-back arrangement” calls for the Ann Sather at 909 W. Belmont Ave. to “continue to operate uninterrupted for the next 10 years, along with its parking lot in the back.”

Tunney’s additional restaurants at 3415 N. Broadway and 1147 W. Granville Ave. are already leased and will remain open as well.

After losing out to Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) in a bid to become Finance Committee chairman, Tunney won the consolation prize. Mayor Lori Lightfoot chose him to chair the City Council’s Zoning Committee. That’s a job held for years by disgraced former Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who spent two years wearing a wire helping the feds build their corruption case against indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th) after Solis was confronted with evidence of his own alleged wrongdoing.

Approaching his 40th year as a restaurant owner, Tunney said he decided to cash out, in part, because of his new responsibilities.

“I’m at a point in my life where I want to simplify. I’ve got a lot of risk involved in owning all of that real estate and running the restaurants and chairman of Zoning. I don’t need all of this responsibility. It’s time for me to start unwinding my real estate,” Tunney told the Chicago Sun-Times.

After the 10-year lease-back period is over, Glascott would be free to redevelop the property near the CTA’s Belmont station with a five-or six-story building — maybe more — under a so-called “transit-oriented development” bonus.

The land currently has a zoning classification of B3-3, the alderman said. There are “no zoning changes and no zoning contingencies” tied to the sale, Tunney said.

Glascott could not be reached for comment. The sale/lease-back arrangement was first disclosed by Crain’s Chicago Business.

“It’s not developable for the period that I’m leasing there because it’s impossible …. You can’t do anything with a two-story building when half the site is a parking lot,” Tunney said.

“After 10 years, if they kick me out as a lessee, they have an ability to redevelop under the zoning …. Congestion belongs in a transit-oriented development. That’s the whole purpose of that. Less parking higher density … . But that’s not gonna happen for many, many years … If people want to say, `Oh my god, in 10 years something could happen,’ well, that could and might happen. A lot of other things might happen between now and 10 years.”

As for his newfound millionaire status, Tunney took it all in stride.

“There’s mortgages to pay. There are taxes to pay. But yeah, I’ll be worth a few million,” he said.

“I don’t feel a day older or a day richer. I do my job. I’ve been blessed by my investments in Lakeview and my investment in the community and I’ll continue to do the best job for my residents and my customers.”

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