The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Ald. O'Connor's Wife's Close Ties to Developer Criticized by Opponent

By Benjamin Woodard | January 16, 2015 6:06am
 The demolition of the Edgewater Medical Center began this week.
The demolition of the Edgewater Medical Center began this week.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

EDGEWATER — A candidate challenging 40th Ward Ald. Pat O'Connor criticized his Realtor wife's close ties with the company redeveloping a portion of the former Edgewater Medical Center site.

Barbara O'Connor has a long-standing business relationship with CA Development — which plans to build 15 single-family homes in the 1600 block of West Edgewater Avenue. She has sold homes built by the company for years.

The company she sells for, Dream Town Realty, recently was hired to sell the homes in the new development, the developer confirmed this week.

"I am running against Pat O'Connor to stop shady real estate deals using TIF money and city zoning largesse that straddle the line between what is legal and what is ethical," Dianne Daleiden said. 

But O'Connor and his wife deny she will have anything to do with the marketing or selling of the homes in the new development.

In fact, O'Connor said he sought the advice of the Chicago Board of Ethics, which ruled last year that his wife's involvement in the sale would not be illegal. But the board "strongly" advised her not to be involved with the project due to the possibility of a perceived conflict of interest, according to the official opinion published by the board.

"It is very likely that you will need to get involved in different aspects of this project over the next few years even more than you and your office already have," the board wrote in recommending O'Connor's wife not work on the development.

O'Connor said he took the opinion to heart.

"We believed, as we still do, that the perception of a conflict of interest would be equally damaging to our community," O'Connor said in a written statement. "My wife is not in any way involved with the project at Edgewater Medical Center."

O'Connor also fired back at Daleiden.

“To suggest that this project is full of backroom deals and shrouded in secrecy to benefit my own family is an outright lie and nothing more than a desperate attempt to score political points before an election," he said.

Daleiden called, however, for an investigation into the property deal, adding that the timing of the Edgewater Medical Center redevelopment seems "fishy."

"With just over a month remaining before the election, the current alderman seems to have found a sense of urgency about resolving the issue in favor of the developers who employ his wife," Daleiden said. "The full details need to be aired before this is a done deal on my watch."

Paul Bertsche, a spokesman for CA Development, said earlier Thursday that Dream Town Realty would be handling the marketing for the property but did not answer questions about whether Barbara O'Connor would be involved.

Barbara O'Connor, a managing broker with Dream Town Realty, said in an email that she would not be involved with the marketing or selling of the homes.

Demolition of the Edgewater Medical Center garage began this week and is expected to take three to five weeks.

In November, the garage was sold to a venture of MCZ Development named Sedgwick Acquisitions LLC. In June, MCZ Development also bid $7.5 million to buy the former hospital at the site, 5700 N. Ashland Ave., but that sale is contingent on certain conditions, including tax increment financing commitments from the city.

The garage portion was then bought by CA Development, which plans to build 15 single-family homes with four to six bedrooms on 30-foot-wide lots. Each home would include a three-car garage for off-street parking.

After the hospital closed in 2001, Ald. O'Connor and the City Council rezoned the center's parking lots for homes. CA Development then built 27 homes there, calling the development Edgewater Square, according to media reports at the time.

Barbara O'Connor sold all of those homes, which are within a block of the current garage demolition site.

Board of Ethics Opinion

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: