Apartment Galleries and their Legality

May 14, 2010

posted by caroline picard

With the closing of 65 Grand, more publicity shines on the issue of apartment galleries and their relationship with the city. What I found especially interesting about the article that went up in Chicago Art Magazine were the comments–especially Kathryn Born’s remark about liability issues and how those complicate the deliciousness of “being under the radar” and then too, a Kelly Thompson who remarked on not being able to find apartment galleries on a recent visit to the city. I feel like there are tons of apartment galleries still, but they may not be well publicized…in some sense they can’t be, right?

in any case, here is some of the article. you can read the whole bit by going here.

Marina City Plan with Apartment Layout

All Apartment Galleries Are Illegal?

By Kathryn Born on May 13, 2010 in Chicago Art News, Featured

UPDATE: We’re getting some new information. The city is now saying that the term “apartment gallery was confusing and unknown to the department of business affairs. There may be a $250 license that can give you a 50/50 workspace.  Please check back for updates.

Mari Espinosa

About a year ago, a Chicago city official walked into Green Lantern Gallery to check a license for the sandwich board advertisement outside.  When he found out the gallery had no license, Caroline Picard, the owner, was given a two tickets, one for the sandwich board and one for not having a business license.

Why wouldn’t a gallery owner have a business license?

Because the Green Lantern Gallery was also Picard’s home.  She estimated that of the 1200 square-foot apartment, about 50 percent was gallery space and the other 50 percent was living space.  Picard said the gallery had 501c3, or non-profit, status and she did know she needed anything further.

“There are some rules about the number of [people] that come, where the exits are,” she said “and based on those regulations, pretty much every apartment gallery is illegal.”  She noted that a business license is not meant for apartment galleries, or at least not made with them in mind.  Picard added that she was told she needed a live/work license but did not qualify because of the zone her apartment is in.

On a call to the Department of Business affairs, a representative said that the only option for an artist to work from home is a Home Occupation License.

The City of Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Web site, a list rules states what business owners can and can’t do with a Home Occupation license.  One states that “No more than 2 clients may visit your home at one time and no more than 10 clients within any 24 hr period.”

Another rule states that no more than 15 percent of the apartment space used as a business in a multiple dwelling building.

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