Lawsuit questions former alderman’s tactics in signing off on Wicker Park resi project

Vermilion President & CEO Dave Cocagne, a rendering of 1650 West Division Street, and former Alderman Joe Moreno (Credit: Vermilion Development)

Vermilion President & CEO Dave Cocagne, a rendering of 1650 West Division Street, and former Alderman Joe Moreno (Credit: Vermilion Development)

In April, a month before leaving office, Alderman Proco Joe Moreno quietly — and improperly — enabled RDM Development’s controversial apartment building project in Wicker Park to clear its hurdle for approval.

That’s the allegation that Vermilion Development is making in its lawsuit against the city, according to Crain’s. Vermilion is charging that RDM’s planned 121-unit construction near its own condo and townhome project was improperly approved during Moreno’s last days in office.

RDM Development’s project at 1628 West Division Street is next to Vermilion’s planned construction. Vermilion wants to build 43 condos and 12 townhomes at 1650 West Division Street.

According to the lawsuit, on Moreno’s final day as alderman, he called a vote on the RDM project but never listed it on the agenda. The measure — which included a zoning change to allow the construction to move ahead — passed without opposition, Crain’s reported.

This came a year after Moreno had halted plans for the project, when RDM Development donated $1,000 to his campaign, drawing sharp criticism as the developer received City Plan Commission’s approval.

Vermillion’s lawsuit is against the city, and does not name Moreno and RDM Development as defendants.

Real estate-related donors comprised almost 60 percent of Moreno’s donors, with at least $127,000 in donations from developers. Moreno was ousted from office by housing advocate Daniel LaSpata early this year. [Crain’s] — Sarah Paynter 

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