Rogers Park Faces Threat of Lakefront High Rises

Alderman Joe Moore(49th Ward) is sponsoring a community meeting at the Loyola Park Fieldhouse to review a proposed seven-story mixed use high rise replacing a single family home at 7015 N. Sheridan Rd. The meeting is on February 1 at 7pm. Community residents are encouraged to attend.

The proposed structure would contain 4500 square feet of commercial space, 30 parking stalls and four residential units on a lot assessed at 7005 square feet. The structures on either side of the proposed development are each four stories in an area currently zoned RT4 which limits the height of a building to no greater than 42 feet.

The developer is Connie Abels, a long time Rogers Park resident, President of RE/MAX Northcoast, and a Director of the Rogers Park Builders Group.

She is also on the Board of Directors of the Rogers Park Community Council founded in 1952 when residents learned of a plan by private developers to build high-rises on the lakefront in Rogers Park. They lobbied the City of Chicago to purchase the lots and protect them as public space.

According to the Rogers Park Community Council's website, one of their most effective tools was having neighbors 'mail hundreds of bags of sand to Mayor Richard J. Daley.' Within eight years, all thirteen lots were acquired by the city and protected. This organization was instrumental in developing the Lakefront Protection Ordinance.

The proposed development is currently being reviewed by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee. According to Hugh Devlin, a neighborhood activist, ZALUAC is comprised of four officers of DevCorp North an organization involved in the economic and business development in the neighborhood, three officers of the Rogers Park Builders Group, a resident of the 50th ward and advisor to the Rogers Park Builders Group, Moore's former Chief of Staff, an officer of the Howard Area Community Center, an officer of the Rogers Park Community Council, the owner of the Heartland Café, and the owner of the Howard and Uptown Theatres and several senior centers.

The project requires City Council and Chicago Plan Commission approval. CPC must approve development projects on Sheridan Road East because of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, the City Council must approve the zoning change. According to RPCC, Rogers Parkers 'regularly testify, support and oppose projects that would jeopardize our access to Lake Michigan.'