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Lies, Busted Lies, and the Marina City Condo Board

(Photo: Tell me, Gepetto, do they get taller if you lie about them? Future “unlicensed” images of the Chicago skyline if the Marina Towers Condominium Association gets its way. Original Credit: Steven Dahlman.)

The fun never ends inside Chicago’s upended corncobs, especially if you consider bald-faced lies by your condominium association entertaining. Last week, I brought you the tale of bone-headed new rules proposed by Marina City’s controversial condo association (in a story brought to me by the scrappy, independent Marina City Online website).

Last week, the condo board was claiming copyright and licensing rights over the photographic image of Marina City (or at least the top 42 floors that the association owns). To bolster their argument, they pointed to the “fact” that Chicago’s WBBM-TV had allegedly paid the condo board to film images of the towers to use as backdrops for their local newscast.

In fact, Marina City Online quotes a comment made by property manager David Gantt at a September 7 board meeting: “CBS has agreed to pay the $2,000 fee for the image of Marina Towers so that they can use Marina Towers and shots to and from Marina Towers for the nightly news introduction.”

Well, liar, liar, garbage chute on fire. In a conversation between Steven Dahlman, co-founder of Marina City Online, and WBBM/Channel 2 general manager Joe Ahern reported on Marina City Online this week, Ahern states bluntly, “We do not pay to take shots of buildings.”

As it turns out, Channel 2 did not shoot video of Marina City at all. According to Ahern, the Chicago CBS affiliate paid the Marina Towers Condominium Association simply for the right to film skyline images from one of Marina City’s 61st-floor roofdecks. In other words, they paid an access fee to stand on the roof.

This, of course, completely contradicts the condo board’s claims, most recently reiterated in an October letter sent to owners (PDF link) supporting a draconian set of new rules many think are aimed at stifling residential dissent in the lately infamous twin condo towers.

As I scribed last week, the image copyright idea (“Rule Five”, as put forward by the Marina City board) is laughable. Given that the association doesn’t own the bottom 19 floors of either tower (not to mention that, as Marina City Online deftly points out, state law simply does not authorize copyright claims), the grounds on which yet another board-vs.-owner smackfest are being laid are once again like Emmentaler. That is, full of holes and cheesy.

The issue is set to come to a head next Thursday, November 15, at 6:30 p.m., when the association holds a special meeting to vet resident comments on the proposed rules. Judging by the pointed opposition expressed on local websites like Marina City Online, Lynn Becker’s ArchitectureChicago PLUS architecture commentary site, and the popular residential bitch-and-moan blog, Marina City Watchdog, the meeting should be nothing if not contentious.

The meeting will take place, as usual, in the glass-walled, rented conference room in Marina City’s lower-level public concourse. If you’re a Marina Citizen like me, you may want to attend, if for no other reason than the theater of it all.

Disbelieving or otherwise totally annoyed urban photobloggers, architectural essayists, vacationers with a few soon-to-be-illicit shots of the corncobs, and (ahem) members of local media can always stand in the public area and stick their nose up to the glass. Because try as I might to convince you, the ongoing soap opera that is Marina City and its condo board really has to be seen to be believed.

Categories: Marina City

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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3 replies

  1. I know this is belated, but better late than never:

    This whole thing is absurd–gotta marvel that the Condo Assoc. doesn’t realize how bad it makes them look.

    I deal with a lot of copyright issues in my work as a librarian, and I recall reading that photographs of architecture are a free, fair use, protected, a-ok form of expression. A lot of derivative works–creative works based heavily on other creative works–are not okay, but that’s specifically one thing that is allowed. I mean shit, how can you copyright the landscape, especially in the downtown area of a bustling international city? They MIGHT be able to give ya trouble if you’re on “their” property and not on a public sidewalk, but if their jurisdiction starts way up in the air anyway, well, the best shots are from the ground, soooo….

    Perhaps some clown noses should be distributed at the next Marina City Condo Association meeting–it might not make for a friendlier fight, but it would get the point across. If one were to want to purchase such items, one might call Uncle Fun on Belmont or Constructive Playthings in Skokie; if they don’t have them, they will probably know who does. Hint hint. 🙂

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