Will EZ Pawn Find 8th Ward Residents EZ

Will EZ Pawn Find 8th Ward Residents EZ

My counterparts at the 6th Ward Blog reported that EZ Pawn, a pawn store wanted to attempt to open a store at 8515 S Cottage Grove. Although there is an unverified flyer floating through the neighborhood, a search of the City of Chicago zoning board of Appeals upcoming meeting agenda shows that they will hear the case this upcoming Friday, August 17, 2012.
APPLICANT: EZ Pawn Illinois, Inc.
OWNER: Chicago Title Land Trust Company
PREMISES AFFECTED: 8515 S. Cottage Grove Avenue
SUBJECT: Application for a special use to permit the establishment of a pawn shop.

The store is adjacent to the location they attempted to open at 700 E 87th street. After, the 6th ward resoundingly told them we are not EZ, they went away. They are back because the east side of Cottage Grove basically resides in the 8th ward and not the 6th ward and with that you now have a different group of personalities to deal with.

I wrote a blog post on the meeting and here is what I wrote:

On Wednesday, September 28, 2011 the Chatham Avalon Park Community Council(CAPCC) held a community meeting, at Seaway Bank,to discuss a proposal by EZ Corp to open an EZPawn Store in the former Chatham Pancake House location.

The building at 700 E. 87th street was the home of The Original Pancake House, Chatham Pancake House and most recently Yonni's Chicken and Waffles. The latter closed because of issues with the IRS but the building was still owned by Chatham Pancake House owner Leslie Noel, who moved the restaurant to Country Club Hills seeking greener pastures but found nothing but mud, he had to get a loan from Country Club Hills to pay his light bill, that angered residents, only to go under later.

EZ Corp (www.ezcorp.com)is a publicly traded company(Nasdaq EZPW) operates pawn shops in 11 states under the EZPawn(www.ezpawn.com) banner and is headquartered in Austin Texas. The representative stated that they are a community based financial institution that provides small loans to individuals who do not meet bank and other financial institution standards. They also stated that they are different than the local mom and pop pawn shops as they have bright clean stores versus seedy dark junky stores of local operators. These individuals pledge collateral that is held by EZPawn ad if they default EZPawn is allowed to sell the collateral for market value.

The representatives of EZPawn attempted to paint a picture that they were a normal retail store and further attempted to patronize the audience by stating they give money back to the community through a foundation. But the audience of over 100 Chatham residents were buying what EZPawn was selling. Overall, residents felt that the store would halt additional stores from considering moving to 87th and increase crime in the community. Also, it was brought up that there was already a pawn shop in the area Chatham Jewelry and Loan. EZPawn attempted to make assurance but the residents did not budge. Overall the residents voted unanimously to reject the proposal and asked CAPCC to send a letter to Roderick Sawyer, Alderman of the 6th ward of their decision.

But, the story wasn't over as EZPawn came back to state that they are also considering other locations in Chatham. A number of residents were uneasy about this statement and several voiced a concern that Alderman Roderick Sawyer may overrule their decision and approve the proposal. This concern referenced the Alderman's decision to allow a $4 million renovation of the Shell gas station to go forward despite a small group of dissenting residents. Also, several residents took it upon themselves to apologize to the EZPawn representatives for the community having a negative feeling towards their business and several others did their "begging preacher" pitch to the EZpawn representatives.

At the time, Alderman Sawyer has not made a statement on the matter. EZPawn corporate office was contacted but has not responded.

The 8th ward is represented by Michelle Harris, who is the president pro-tem of the city council. The 8th ward is also the home of the deposed Stroger regime that has recently seen several top lieutenants indicted on corruption charges. The City of Chicago requires the following :post a $1,000 bond with the city, pass a background check, fork over a $1,200 annual fee, and make sure you're located in a building with high-intensity retail zoning. EZ Pawn is feeling pretty good about themselves as the Pawn industry has recruited political insiders from the Hispanic Democratic Organization to grease the way through the city licensing maze. Also, EZ Pawn and competitors have proliferated in Logan Square(http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/feb27-pawnshops-boom-logan-square-4776716/#comment-102323). Logan Square went from zero to six in a matter of 2 years. EZ Pawn currently has 7 locations in the City of Chicago, primarily in Hispanic and African American communities.

While some will argue that pawn shops are innocent businesses, there is a report from a University of Chicago professor that shows emperical data that crime increases as pawn shops increase in a community http://www.law.umich.edu/centersandprograms/lawandeconomics/workshops/Documents/Winter2008/miles.pdf .

What do you think? Well, we will find out what 8th ward residents think on Thursday, August 16,2012 at Alderman Harris's community meeting.

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