Another Side To The “Culture Of Secrecy”


This week’s Park Ridge Journal carried a story about the October 12 City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, at which was discussed the owner of the building at 31-33 S. Prospect re-claiming 8 parking spots that had been leased to the City since 1986 for $1 per year (“Businesses Want Parking Lot Back,” Oct. 14).

The City acquired the right to those spaces in the rear of that building and other adjoining buildings to create “Pickwick Plaza” by installing lights and landscaping.  According to Director of Community Development Carrie Davis, all of the leases for the Pickwick Plaza have come due, and none of the seven property owners have expressed interest in renewing the leases.

Apparently the lease for 31-33 S. Prospect was “the only one…that required a restoration” of the property to its pre-Pickwick Plaza condition, according to City Attorney Everette “Buzz” Hill.

Actually, the owner of that property is willing to re-up the lease with the City, but at market rates rather than the token $1 per year.  That would have put the rent at approximately $2,000 a month.  If the City chooses not to re-up, however, it is required under the lease to restore the area to its 1986 condition of 8 parking spaces and a dumpster pad, for which the City has received a bid of $62,369.

Whether maintaining that portion of Pickwick Plaza is worth $24,000 a year is an open question, especially in view of the cost of restoration.  But we find two aspects of this situation particularly interesting – one troubling, the other surprising to the point of humor.

The troubling aspect of this situation is the fact that neither the Journal account of it, nor the City’s “Agenda Cover Memorandum” [pdf] by Director of Community Development Carrie Davis, identifies the owner of that property.  And, even more amazingly, a review of the video of that meeting reveals that even during the almost one-half hour Council/Staff discussion, the owner’s name was not mentioned once!

What’s so secret about the identity of this particular property owner that he can only be referred to as “the owner”?  And why does he appear to be playing games with the City, as suggested by the conflicting assertions of his need for the 8 parking spaces but yet being willing to forego those needed 8 spaces for a rental payment of $24,000 a year?   


As for the surprising/humorous aspect, try Ald. Don Bach’s (3rd Ward) having “broached the idea” of the City just grabbing the land by condemnation under eminent domain.  Although eminent domain condemnation is a perfectly legitimate and constitutionally-approved power of government to acquire property for an identifiable public purpose, our local politicians and bureaucrats historically have treated this “ED” as if it were the medical problem with the same abbreviation: they didn’t want to even talk about it.

Over the past couple of years, Bach and the rest of the aldermen dared not even whisper the words “eminent domain” while their mentor, former mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark, negotiated behind the scenes with various property owners around town, ostensibly to cut a deal on a site for the big new cop shop Frimark – and Bach – desired. The party line then was that a negotiated deal was better than condemnation, even though eminent domain provides for the owner to receive Fair Market Value for his property.

Yet here’s Bach, speaking those words publicly about what seems to us to be a pretty insignificant piece of ground. 

We have to wonder whether Bach’s apparent change of heart has anything to do with the identity of the owner, he whose name must not be spoken?    

9 comments so far

Ah yes, the “Culture of Secrecy”…it’s a many-faceted thing with inescapable links to corruption, if one understands the word.

By the way, how does the law define “public purpose” in relation to “ED?”

It is not that hard to find out the property owner’s names. Here, the property was bought in 2006 by Tim and Jennifer Perry for $1,750,000. It was later transferred to an LLC named Winchester Investment Services, LLC in an exempt transaction. Perry is the manager of the LLC. There is an interesting note the City might want to consider in its deliberations. The property next door to the 31 S. Prospect property has a building that encroaches on the 31 Prospect property by 64 square feet. It has existed for some time, but the parties just entered into a new agreement under which the encroaching owner is paying the 31 S Prospect owner rent each year for the right to encroach. It starts at $1,561 in the first 5 years and goes up every 5th year till the year 96, when it will be $22,220 per year. Does that give some indication of value? Maybee. Does the City know about this? Don’t know. Ask Buzz. It took me 15 minutes to find out.

Is that the same Perry from the OHare Commission? Maybe that is why city officials were keeping quiet about it.

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that a “public purpose” is “not a static concept…[but] flexible, and…capable of expansion to meet conditions of a complex society that were not within the contemplation of the framers of our constitution.” Southwestern Illinois Development Authority v. National City Environmental, L.L.C., 199 Ill.2d 225 (2002). 

That language suggests that “public purpose” may be a lot like “pornography,” in that it’s one of those things that is hard to define but judges are supposed to know it when they see it.

The language of the conclusion of that case also seems to suggest the taking of private property, for evenutal ownership and control by another private entity, merely for the purpose of economic development is not a “proper taking.”

That is the same Perry… nice, huh?

Anybody smell somethin’ funny?

Is that also the same Perry that is the preferred lender for PRC Partners?

Anonymous 4:21 PM:

While Mr. Perry is indeed listed as a “preferred lender” for PRC on the latter’s website, that does not necessarily explain why City staff and the City Council appear reluctant to identify Mr. Perry by name as the owner of 31-33 S. Prospect.

Before the Perry/PRC relationship can legitimately be considered a factor in the non-disclosure, we think there are a few more “dots” that need to be supplied and then connected.


I see your point. I thought it was something because Perry was a Frimark appointment way back when, is now trying to get the city to cough up market rent for the area behind his building or pay to have it restored for parking, is the preferred lender for PRC Uptown Residences and PRC is asking the city to approve an insurance contract with Frimark for the Uptown residences and stores.

It struck me as pretty entangled and messy with all the connections among these parties and I thought that could be why the city was keeping it quiet. I guess it looked that way only to me.

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