Alderman Proco Joe Moreno wants to make live/work legal for the rest of us.

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Is there a corner of the law where artists enjoy benefits that others don't? In Chicago, that'd be live/work spaces, legit for artists in general but technically a no-no for other business owners. That might be changing. Chefs, lawyers, accountants, salon owners and others may soon be able to live where they work—in the same space as the businesses they own, that is.

Tomorrow, Alderman Proco Joe Moreno will introduce the Work/Live Space Ordinance at the meeting of the Chicago City Council to allow business owners to reside in their commercial spaces. Currently, city zoning code only allows artists to live in a work-space. Moreno’s ordinance would allow any low-intensity, B-District zoned business to dedicate up to 30% of its space for residential use. 

Moreno, in a press release today, described the legislation as a return to city living of the past. “Families used to live in their stores,” Moreno said. “This ordinance is a return to tradition; it makes a lot of sense for small business owners in the present economic climate.”  

Moreno’s Work/Live Ordinance would also give business owners in C-Districts the option to reside in a portion of their commercial space with the approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals for a “special use” permit. 

In a city that's looking to increase its density and tax base, live/work spaces for non-artists do tend to make sense. And Moreno's proposal obviously has an appeal for the small business owner and entrepreneur. On the other hand, it may not be what those looking for a bounce back in the real estate market have in mind for simulus. It will be interesting to hear what kind of arguments come out against Moreno's proposal.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)