Oak Park business owner files lawsuit against landlord, village

Glass-blowing tenant sues Chris Kleronomos, owner of 201 Harrison St., for damages


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

A longtime tenant of 201 Harrison St. has filed a lawsuit against the property owner, the project's contractor and the Village of Oak Park, among others.

Matt Kwilas, owner of Prodigy Glassworks, was displaced from his business last August when the facade of the building collapsed. He said he was promised he'd be allowed back in the space within a few months; it has now been 10.

The lawsuit claims that property owner Chris Kleronomos' management company and its contractor, Builtmax Construction, are responsible for more than $100,000 in lost business. Kwilas has also named in the lawsuit the property's court-appointed receiver, Dan Harrington of the Village of Oak Park, as well as two other companies affiliated with the property.

Simone Boutet, Oak Park's interim village attorney, said that as of Tuesday the village hasn't officially been served the lawsuit papers. As a general rule, though, she said the village doesn't comment on pending litigation matters. None of the other parties named in the lawsuit could be reached by phone Tuesday.

Kwilas said the choice to name multiple parties in the lawsuit came from his lawyer, who advised it was best to name all parties affiliated with the property so it could be determined in a legal setting who was to blame, instead of letting individuals place blame on others.

"It's impossible to get stuff out; the metal structures are part of the building," he said. "I hope I can resign a lease and that something does come out of this. I can't set up anywhere else."

Kwilas said it's not about getting back at anyone; it's about regaining a piece of what he's lost.

"I want to be made whole. I want to get back to business and get back up and running," he said. "I'm over being angry. This is just business and getting me back to where I was."

The next "stick in the mud," he said, is the fact that his lease has run out. Moving from the Harrison Street property, however, isn't a concept he thinks is feasible. All the ovens and heavy equipment are nearly immovable from inside the property. He also doesn't know the condition of the inside materials since it's under construction now.

Kwilas said initially when the collapse happened he was in good contact with village staff, who, he said, listened to his concerns. Over time, however, he learned the village didn't have much authority since it isn't the owner of the property. The village did take action last year by fining Kleronomos for hiring workers to do un-permitted work by removing parts of the building's façade.

The somewhat complicated ownership terms of Kleronomos' seven properties on Harrison Street — which are all for sale and under foreclosure — also throws a wrench into the mix. Kwilas said the confusion over the properties being disputed among the courts, banks, and insurance company has slowed the process more than he expected. It's been especially confusing as a tenant, he said, since he hasn't gotten the answers he's been seeking for months.

Kleronomos' properties were put in foreclosure when he fell behind on a $3.5 million construction loan, for which he put 201-211 Harrison up as collateral, along with several other nearby properties.

"There were a lot of things going on. … It dragged out," Kwilas said. "But ultimately in the end I'm the only one out of business."

Late last week, the construction fencing was removed around the Harrison Street properties, but Kwilas said he hadn't heard when or if he could return to his old space. He also had no indication what the condition of the building is inside, which has been a major concern of his during much of this process.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Calm down everybody  

Posted: June 19th, 2012 7:05 AM

Guys, you are seriously overestimating the number of guns this "business" has sold, and the amount of tax revenue he is generating for the village. He might have done a couple of license transfers but there is zero foot traffic in and out of that "store". any real gun buyer is going to go to a real gunshop. This is NRA theater, no more, no less. Good for the village for not letting them draw a foul.


Posted: June 18th, 2012 10:28 PM

Justin, thanks for contributing property and sales tax to The People's Republic of Oak Park. These people keep forgetting that they are a part of the U.S.A. Don't waste another thought or word on them. Good day to you sir.

Gun Runners are Evil  

Posted: June 18th, 2012 10:07 PM

Hey Justin, any word yet if any gun you've sold has been used in any of the record number of murders that just seems to correlate with the opening of your "not just on the internet, sorry we lied, haha liberal fools" gun store?

Just Another Red Neck Cracker from Berwyn  

Posted: June 18th, 2012 4:05 PM

Dat's telling' 'em off Justin an Larry! You'se guys know what da score is! Jus' keep doin' what your doin'!

Justin Delafuente  

Posted: June 18th, 2012 3:46 PM

First off I said internet sales and appointments and in the future retail not that I owe you an explanation and second everything I'm doing is legal and up to Oak Park code. My family has owned our property for close to 25 years we pay 35,000 dollars a year in property tax on top of all the sales tax from the new stuff we sell I could care less what you and people like you think, I'm here and here to stay there is absolutely nothing that you can say or do about it. You see in this country you can open up a business as long as you're following the law. I'm sorry you don't like that maybe you should move. My website is not up because I haven't needed it from all the people that call and set up appointments everyday thanks to people like you and all the publicity that you have gotten me, I should put the few dozen of you on the payroll. Thanks Justin Delafuente- Owner of Windy City Firearms

Larry Dantonio from Berwyn, Illinois  

Posted: June 18th, 2012 3:13 PM

First, We never said we were internet only, people could always come and order and buy guns at the store. So as usual people are misinformed again. The city knew that all along. We are deceiving no one there. As far as hundreds of kids within a block of here I would bet there are no more than 25-35 children at that day care a day, and I still see no problem with that anyway. And I guess all the keyboard cowboys are still to chicken to say who they really are and also feel they speak for all of Oak Park, but based on the amount of people that have come in for guns I bet you have no clue what you are talking about.

Oak Parker from North Berwyn  

Posted: June 18th, 2012 12:35 PM

Thank you, SE Oak Parker. Now, in the words of Bill O'Reilly, "Mr. Dantonio, what say you?"

SE Oak Parker  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 11:17 PM

Sorry for the threadjack. I really hope Mr. Kwilas is able to reopen his business soon.

SE Oak Parker  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 11:06 PM

Your stepson (my bad) told neighbors at a community meeting that his was to be an online only business; people would buy their guns online and pick them up from him at your store. It's clear to all of us now that he wasn't honest. You want to pretend that there aren't hundreds of children within a block of your gun store, or that you took advantage of the village's lack of zoning and concern for residents south of pleasant ave, or that your stepson knows how to build a simple website, go ahead.

Larry Dantonio from Berwyn, Illinois  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 10:47 PM

His license says he can conduct business in the Village of Oak Park. And actually the store is closer to Ridgeland than Cuyler. So I still I don't see what the big deal is since there has been no problems with the store being there.

SE Oak Parker  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 8:41 PM

His business license application says he would be doing online sales only. If that is no longer the case, he should probably contact the village and let them know.

Larry Dantonio from Berwyn, Illinois  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 7:18 PM

re: SE: Actually next to the building that the Gun shop is in is a Building then an empty lot then a Dostors office then the street and the Day Care /School. And I am still not sure how that matters. By the way he is not My nephew. And Who said it was Internet only? This is part of the problem. Uninformed people.

SE Oak Parker  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 6:59 PM

Larry, your neighbor directly to the east of your building, across the street, is a Montessori school. How do you not know that? Perhaps you should walk around the neighborhood a bit. If you take a walk one block north, you will also find Washington Irving Elementary School. We are all still wondering how your nephew can run a legitimate "Internet-only" business when his site is STILL under construction: http://windycityarms.com

Larry Dantonio from Berwyn, Illinois  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 3:14 PM

What does striking distance mean. To my knowledge there has been no problem with the store at all. And I am sorry My english does not meet with your approval but I will not lose any sleep over it. And at least I don't hide behind a fake name like most people here.

Oak Parker from North Berwyn  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 3:00 PM

OK, Larry. It's not across the street from a school. Just within striking range. But if you would like to split hairs, I would like an English teacher to diagram your last sentence. It's not your fault; the internet and e-mail make most people sound ignorant.

Larry Dantonio from Berwyn, Illinois  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 2:12 PM

RE: SE Oak Parker: I still would like someone to show me where there is a gun store across from a school. I keep hearing that but Apparently most people don't seem to know what they are talking about. I would love to have someone the school in the Condo building across street.

Oak Parker from North Berwyn  

Posted: June 15th, 2012 8:15 AM

Yeah, but we got Pete's! And let's not forget Turano's parking lot, the Girl Scout building and whatever that building on the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Roosevelt. And that storefront on East. And the tattoo parlor.

Gym Koughlin  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 10:22 PM

@ North Berwyn. @ SE Oak Parker. Look no further then the Roosevelt Road Corridor for new multiple dining and drinking establishments. Capri, Autre Monde, Wing Boss, Sushi Junki, Paparazzi, Culver's, etc... Oh wait, those are located in Berwyn. I can't believe that the intellectually superior Oak Park, with all their high priced officials, are getting their butts kicked by the little town that could, Berwyn. I think you gentleman are onto something here.


Posted: June 14th, 2012 7:50 PM

@SE Oak Parker, those are paid ads and as such you see the people who paid. People south of Pleasant st are notorious for whining about what they don't want to contribute to. How many of those restaurants support the Chamber of Commerce, or Visit Oak Park or the Arts District? Take La Majada, a classic example of a place that doesn't spend one dime to support any marketing organization. It's not the Village's dollars, you want to complain, complain to those businesses that are too cheap.

SE Oak Parker  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 5:39 PM

FOR EXAMPLE, we just received the "Dining Al Fresco in Oak Park" insert in the Wednesday Journal. Where is a single restaurant south of Pleasant Street? There isn't any. All of our tax dollars and marketing efforts are going to a select few businesses. Why doesn't this village board care about a single business district outside downtown? I for one am starting to get really mad.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 5:31 PM

To Oak Parker from North Berwyn: No matter how slow you type, I can appreciate and understand your subtle sense of the absurd. However, clarity would be nice.

SE Oak Parker  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 4:04 PM

In case you haven't been paying attention, most SE Oak Park neighbors did not want a gun shop across the street from our school. The village still hasn't done a single thing to ensure that more gun shops won't open across the street from other schools. Try to open one a block from Mann and see how fast that changes. The village consistently neglects the needs of SE oak park while paving the business districts with brick and bluestone, and it's just baffling and very frustrating to many of us.

Julie Samuels from Oak Park  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 3:30 PM

Speaking of the absurd, and failure to listen to residents, be sure to take note of the sign posted at the NW corner of Lombard & Harrison - CD Klere (AKA CD Kleronomos) was appointed to "Keep Harrison St. Beautiful". I was told it's because he picks up the litter. I guess the Village would rather have bricks tumbled on the sidewalks than litter. Go figure.

Oak Parker from North Berwyn  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 2:50 PM

Yes, Brian, you are correct. Next time I will type slower so everyone can understand and appreciate my subtle sense of the absurd.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 12:47 PM

To Oak Parker from North Berwyn: Since you are making Larry and I guess, I can only assume that all these issues are alike because of some ineffective government policy,waste,performance failures, and failure to listen to the citizen.

Oak Parker from North Berwyn  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 12:39 PM

A gun shop has as much to do with the Arts District and this article as brick pavers, buildings falling down, low income housing, half baked ideas about capping the Ike and Roosevelt Road.

Larry Dantonio from Berwyn, Illinois  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 8:41 AM

Re:Oak Parker from North Berwyn What does a gun store have to do with this?

Oak Parker from North Berwyn  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 7:32 AM

And a gun shop.

South Side  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 2:30 PM

We got Roosevelt Rd.

North vs. South from OP  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 12:38 PM

@Bernie: You said it! The truckloads of cash are reserved for North Oak Park and their brick-paved streets. Down south, we get buildings falling down, low income housing projects, and half-baked ideas about capping the Ike that the Village can't follow up on.

Glass lover from Oak Park  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 12:11 PM

This has ruined the "art district" which i find pretty lame in the first place. Oak park neeeds more open doors on harrison more shops and more of an ART "district" It really is a joke...the lack of options. I wish they would get it together and create a real art district. Good job. I hope you win and more!

Beth Puccinelli from Oak Park  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 11:08 AM

I still feel bad everytime I walk by. I hope something gets done and have wondered how you are surviving.

Bernie from Oak Park  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 7:38 AM

You can believe if this had happened on Marion Street this would have been resolved months ago. The Village consistently turns a blind eye to their own Arts District. The Village would never have allowed Geronimo to continue his sleazy business practices this long anywhere else in the Village. They're lucky someone wasn't killed by their disinterest. But let a business die in the Arts District? Not a problem. Just another step out of line.


Posted: June 12th, 2012 9:02 PM

Matt, I hope you get back everything you lost & more. The entire process you have had to endure is BS.

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