ROGERS PARK — Protesters braved the rain on a damp Sunday afternoon to express their disappointment with Jennifer Pritzker, who wants to build a 250-car parking garage on Sheridan Road, and Ald. Joe Moore, who supports the plan.
"This is our precious lakefront," said resident Susan Olin at the rally outside the former Shambhala Meditation Center, which would be demolished under the proposal.
"We must demand better from developers. We must demand better from our elected officials. Our lakefront is not for massive parking garages. Our lakefront is for the people, not for cars."
Pritzker's Tawani Enterprises bought the Buddhist meditation center last year.
Shortly after, DNAinfo Chicago revealed the company's plan to build the four-story, 250-car parking garage at 7331 N. Sheridan Road, near Pritzker's other developments, including the Farcroft apartments, Cat's Cradle and Frank Lloyd Wright's Emil Bach House.
Since then, 49th Ward alderman Moore and the City Council approved a zoning change that would allow the structure to be built. But the proposal still will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals Friday and Chicago Plan Commission, which has jurisdiction because of the project's proximity to the lakefront.
Now the protesters hope to put a stop to what they call the "Lakefront Car Tower."
"I'm very scared this is going to change our lakefront forever," said Laura Wells, 51, alongside about 30 other protesters. "And people have been fighting for this land for decades, and it's going to take one very wealthy family to ruin our lakefront."
From Shambhala, the protesters marched north to Moore's house on Fargo Avenue. He didn't appear to be home.
Protester Cecilia Benz, 59, said residents living near the site of the proposed parking garage haven't been heard by Moore and the city.
"[Moore] only gave us one meeting with short notice," she said. "He already decided in his mind. It was a done deal before the community heard about it."
Moore said, however, that parking is sorely needed in the neighborhood, and Pritzker's development would be a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
But the protesters said the zoning change could set a precedent for more development near the lakefront akin to Sheridan Road in Edgewater, which is lined with high-rises.
And public transportation and biking should be promoted by the city, not parking garages for cars, protesters said.
"Col. Pritzker thinks a parking garage is a solution to our problems. [Pritzker] couldn't be more wrong," said Don Gordon Sunday. "A solution is less cars."
Gordon and other residents plan to give public testimony at 2 p.m. Friday at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in City Hall.