CITY HALL — The controversial 250-car parking garage proposed by Col. Jennifer Pritzker cleared its final hurdle Thursday when the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the project.
Construction of the $16 million garage at 7331 N. Sheridan Rd. could begin this year, officials said.
After several zoning changes approved by the City Council and the Zoning Board of Appeals, the structure needed the final OK from the commission due its proximity to the lakefront.
A group of neighbors spoke against the plan before the commission voted.
"I hoped some of these commissioners would realize they would not want to live on a block with this building," said resident Ruth Olin, who had called the parking garage a "physical and psychological barrier to the lakefront."
Others said the four-story structure would be a "haven" for crime.
"Without any street-side retail, with eyes on the street, this would be a haven for people to come and do drugs and prostitution in the garage," said resident Steve Townshend.
But all of the commissioners sided with Ald. Joe Moore (49th).
"My densely populated neighborhood suffers from a severe parking shortage which is only worsened as my neighborhood continues to revitalize," he testified. "Although the parking garage will not solve our parking woes, there's no question that taking 250 cars off the street will do much to mitigate the problem in the far northeast corner of my neighborhood."
Before the vote, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) questioned Pritzker's ability to return a profit on the garage.
"It's a losing proposition, based on the pricing you're talking about. How does this make any sense?" he said.
Andrew Scott, an attorney for Tawani Enterprises, which manages Pritzker's real estate holdings, said Pritzker sees the garage as "a legacy" for her children.
Tawani also owns the Farcroft Apartments, Cats Cradle Bed and Breakfast, the Mayne Stage and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Emil Bach House nearby.
Despite the opponents pleas, Tunney and his colleagues approved the structure.
"I'm glad it's over," said Moore, while riding the elevator down from City Council chambers in City Hall.
"I'm looking forward to the construction of the structure," he said, so the opponents of the garage would realize that "the world has not ended."