Jennifer Pritzker plans parking garage on site of historic Rogers Park home

September 19, 2013 9:00:26 AM PDT
A battle is underway over a plan to build a parking garage on the site of a historic home on Chicago's Far North Side. The garage would alleviate the street parking crunch in the city's Rogers Park community, but the home that would be demolished is near a Frank Lloyd Wright home on North Sheridan Road.

The Frank Lloyd Wright house that is right down the street is being transformed into an event venue by Jennifer Pritzker, but to provide parking for the venue, she has also bought a historic home that she plans to tear down to build a parking garage. Residents in the area are fuming over the plan.

The house is close to 100 years old. Long ago, the prairie-style Sheridan Road Rogers Park home was owned by a successful jeweler. But for the past 30 years, it hasn't been used as a single-family home. It's gone from a day care center, to medical center and now a meditation center, and if Alderman Joe Moore gets his way, the entire structure will come down to make way for a parking garage.

"I like old houses, but I also want my constituents to have a place to park," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.

Moore says parking is so scarce in this neighborhood, it's known as "Rogers No Park," which is why Moore fully supports a proposal by developer Jennifer Pritzker to build a 250-car garage. Moore says some spaces will be designated for another Pritzker project down the street, the renovation of a Frank Lloyd Wright house as an event venue, but, most of the garage space will be for residents. Even though, many near the proposal are against it.

"A giant parking garage would be terrible for the neighborhood, it's a giant eyesore," said Stephen Foster, Rogers Park resident.

"The thought of having a 240-car garage feels like the beginning of the end of something," said Karen Gerbig, Rogers Park resident.

The end of what some residents say is a quiet community on the lakefront. David Watkins lives right next door to the project.

"And you can imagine how we feel to look out the window and hear the traffic and noise," said David Watkins, Rogers Park resident.

Residents who oppose the project worry a parking garage will pave the way for more development and change the character of Sheridan Road in Rogers Park.

"We have so few of these houses left in the community, the last thing we need to do is continue to tear down these homes," said Don Gordon, Rogers Park resident.

"The kind of Sheridan Road they are talking about doesn't exist, if it ever existed," said Ald. Moore.

The proposal has already passed the city's zoning committee. On Friday, it goes before the zoning board of appeals. If it passes that, it goes to the plan commission in November. Residents around here do plan on protesting it at both meetings. ABC7 also reached out to Jennifer Pritzker on Wednesday, but her company had no comment.


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