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Pritzker Parking Garage: Alderman OKs Proposal, Despite Opposition

By Benjamin Woodard | June 21, 2013 10:30am
 Col. James Pritzker wants to build a four-story parking garage where a Buddhist meditation center now sits.
Parking facility to replace Buddhist meditation center
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ROGERS PARK — Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said a proposed parking garage on Sheridan Road is a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for the neighborhood and will help relieve the parking problem that "is only getting worse" in Rogers Park.

The alderman released a statement Friday morning supporting a zoning change required to build the four-story, 250-car parking garage at 7331 N. Sheridan Road, the former location of a Buddhist meditation center.

Neighbors have been organizing against the structure — dubbing it the "Lakefront Car Tower" — since a public hearing about the proposal in January, where many neighbors said the building would be a welcomed addition to a densely populated lakefront neighborhood.

More recently, a few neighbors traveled downtown to petition the Chicago Landmark Commission to designate the building currently on the property as an historical landmark.

Their request is pending, but if successful, the designation would preserve the Prairie School-style house that proponents say has served as a private residence, a synagogue, a daycare center, women's health center and, most recently, a Buddhist meditation center.

Moore, however, said the structure, proposed by Col. James Pritzker's development team, Tawani Enterprises, was needed in the neighborhood.

In the statement, he said the parking garage "offers our community a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide real relief to literally hundreds of Rogers Park residents who own an automobile" and need street-side parking.

Moore also said Tawani, known for its restoration projects in Rogers Park and Edgewater, would use high-quality materials and strive for "green elements of far greater quality than found in most other parking structures."

A developer with similar means to build such a structure would be hard to come by in the future, he added.

In addition, Moore said Tawani had modified the proposed structure to alleviate some of his concerns, such as changes to the structure's facade and added safety features.

In March, the alderman's advisory board on zoning and land use issues voted unanimously to recommend that he and other City Council members OK the zoning change.

Because of the proposed site's proximity to the lakefront, the proposed structure would also need to be reviewed under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and approved by the Chicago Plan Commission.