Thursday, February 2, 2006

* Standing Room Only Meeting at Loyola Fieldhouse

Hostile Crowd Greets Out of Touch Neighbor

A dozen concerned neighbors struggle to hear what's happening from the hallway.

When Alderman Moore checks his attendance figures from last nights political meeting, Alderman Moore will find some shocking news. Connie Abels tried to stack the deck.

Even with all Connie Abels funny business, 3/4 of the room thought the 79 foot tall building plan wasn't a good idea.

Over 100 people attended this community/political meeting. Exact figures are unknown. But from the "Broken Heart's" view, the event was a sell out.

The overflowing crowd listened as Connie Abels challenged residents of the 49th ward residents to "Put your money where your mouth is," as the crowd at one point shouted her down.

Ms. Abels also paraded what looked like the entire sales force of ReMax agents into the meeting, disguised as neighbors.

Besides the filibustering from Rich Aronson and Katy Hogan, one such person who spoke caught my attention. She was a young Spanish lady who got her turn to speak from the back of the room. She repeated what a half dozen others had already said before her, "The neighborhood changing"... "This project is beautiful".... "Change will happen".... "I'm for it".... It was as if the whole event was scripted. Then the young lady promptly left the meeting without asking a question.

As she was leaving out the door, I asked her name and where she lived. Instead of telling it to me who she was, she pulled out her business card. The card said it all ... ReMax North Coast, Adriana Ossa-Cruz-realtor.


Birchwood Bill said...

lol, nice catch Craig. I felt something wasn't right with her. She was standing next to me. I felt her comments were forced.

This development is good for Morse or Howard. NOT SHERIDAN ROAD.

rogerparker said...

did anyone else feel connie was lying to us?

Craig Gernhardt said...

Talk about stacking the deck, I would like to thank all the "Broken Heart" commenters who showed up. Paradise, nico's mom, RP Neighbor, Morse Man, Steve, gf, james, Carol, Sandy, Michael, Don, Ann Sulli, Kevin, John on Farwell, Fran Tobin, Katy Hogan, David Fagus and you two Bill and Roger. Let me know if I missed anyone.

Craig Gernhardt said...

Just the facts Ma'am was there too.

Craig Gernhardt said...

And how can I forget.... Hugh.

I hope Hugh will put together his meeting notes for us here.

I also will be posting Julie's from the Chi-Town News when the story comes on-line.

rpobserver said...

It is my understanding that Ms Abels was the Broker of record, representing the infamous Mr. Kakvand(sp), as he criminally scammed our community and residents with his phoney multi-million "condo conversion" operation. After the initial property purchases, Ms Abels then managed and activily marketed these properties. Why has Ms Ables never been held accountable for her involvment with this scam??

Janice on Ravenswood said...

I wish I knew about this site 6 months ago with the Adelphi development meeting. I showed up last night because of this website and found the presenter Ms. Abels to be a arrogant bitch. Sorry, but that's how I feel. Do all community meetings go the lines of this dog and pony show routine? As I listened I noticed alot of questions asked were posed here in this site and in the commments section.

QuestionAuthority said...

His name is Mohammad Taghie "Mike" Kakvand:,1,4411562.story

As I remember, Ms. Abels pictured hereself wearing a crown and dubbing herself as "Connie the Condo Queen", presiding over the listing of all those buildings.

rpobserver said...

I'm told that she not only brokered the purchases for him, but as you point out, she then was his marketing broker for the "condos". If this is true, Ms Ables must have received 100's of thousands of dollars in fees from this scam.

Craig Gernhardt said...

Connie Abels pulled out all the stops. She spared no expense. Bottled water for her neighbors, a fancy projector for the presentation provided by the Rogers Park Builders Group, oh and James Banks, who's law practice focuses on zoning issues.

As the Sun-Times reported in November, James "Jimmy the Banker" Banks often represents developers with projects in the 36th Ward -- with great success.

It's no wonder. Zoning work runs in the family. Alderman William Banks (D-36) is his uncle who chairs the City Council's zoning committee.

LuntAve said...

So, was a vote taken? Was Joe there? How will the decision be made? Is this Joe's decision alone? What are next steps?

Jim Witts said...

I was not at the meeting last night, and I don't support a building that tall east of Sheridan. But, based on the pictures here, at least it looks like someone took the time to come up with a creative biulding design.

jeff o said...

this is all a farce,
nonetheless i hope it goes through,
its not as though sheridan is a side street, its the main thoroughfare of RP,

this nimbyism can backfire,
and we should really be focused on stopping the marina,

to battle everything is crazy, but that is the RP way, its endearing though, and in many ways i cant blame you,

hey how about you guys posting a picture of the proposed project, what does it look like?

MajSquarenuts said...

well rpobserver, if you bothered to check the facts of the Kakvand scam, you would know the answers! The facts are that Abels was hired by Kavand and partners to sell his condos and,like the lenders and the rest of our community (and other communities) was scammed by him. SHE called the FBI and turned him in! Hmmm...maybe she wasn't arrested because she was also a victim? or maybe you think the people you hear things from know more than the FBI? If that's true, please have these all knowing individuals contact the FBI so all the scammers are held accountable! I think you should practice a little less gossiping and a little more fact finding! What a joke!

Anne Sulli said...

What happens now is this: The 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee will look at the plan and vote on it again. They have turned this project down twice already. Joe said a number of the members of that committee were in attendance. Let's hope so, because Joe seemed to think that the crowd was "split" on the project. Hmmm. Once again, Joe was NOT paying attention! Even Katie Hogan told them to reject the plan.

QuestionAuthority said...

Did Abels turn over the commisions she made from Kakvand? Are you sure she turned him in ot the FBI? Where did you get that information, I've never seen it in a news story. Could you fill us in on your "fact finding"? Why is it that anyone could see something was fishy with those Kakvand uncompleted overpriced condos, yet she took those listings and dubbed herself "Condo Queen" for a day. Have you noticed Connie often advertises "no money down"? Could that have something to do with how she and Kakvand were acquainted -- isn't that at the heart of this matter?

jeff o said...

i like that guy raising his hand in the photo, i imagine he isnt one of those people FOR the project, how come we dont have any action shots of craig or someone talking?

and i looked at the larger photo of the building and i think this is a nice looking project, craig must keep the developers up at night,


rpobserver said...

As I understand the connection, after about a year of involvment with Kakvand, Ables began not being paid management and other fees for her brokage services. This was after she brokered his purchase of a number(if not all) of the multi-unit buildings involved and who knows how many "condos". The FBI investigation was initally put on "hold" due to the 9/11 attack and not activily resumed for sometime after. Who knows how deep the authorities probed into her involvment. If anyone has those building addresses it would be easy to check the public record as to who profited other than Kakvand, in the whole sorry mess! If nothing else, Ables owes the Rogers Parek community a full explaination and disclosure as to her connection and involvement with Kakvand.

Hugh said...

>As I remember, Ms. Abels pictured hereself wearing a crown and dubbing herself as "Connie the Condo Queen", presiding over the listing of all those buildings.

Please go to the library and find this, we will scan it and post it. Thanks!

QuestionAuthority said...

Amen, I second RPObserver's suggestion. Perhaps "MajorSquareNuts" would like to offer us a statement, as he/she obviously seems (or at least pretends) to know a lot about what went on.

I wish I had the "Condo Queen" ad, from the Lerner paper, of her with the crown -- it was an entire page!

Anne Sulli said...

There's a new blog in town and I think Rogers Park has a LOT to contribute to it. "Mr. Archibleckture" is looking for examples of Chicago architecture with character being replaced by "Archiblecture". Hello...Adlphi buffs?!

Anne Sulli said...

oops, I forgot the link:

Hugh said...

Abels went on at length describing her many contributions to the community. Near the end she turned on her audience, saying from the pulpit that those who opposed her project were just louder, and excoriating her audience "What have YOU Done for the community?"

But Ms. Abels most significant recent contribution to our community might be her work in bringing a guest speaker to our neighborhood. THANK YOU, Ms. Abels, for bringing such a prominent guest speaker to our neighborhood. We know he does not come cheap. There is no way any other organization could afford to bring him in, this is something only someone like you could do. Thanks again for turning just another neighborhood dog & pony into a real event. This is just the kind of educational event which will inform neighbors about how our neighborhoods work, and will no doubt increase citizen participation in local affairs. Bravo, Connie!

The Greatest Lawyer in Chicago: J. J. Banks

Who is the greatest lawyer in Chicago? Dan Webb? Michael Shakman? Peter Francis Geraci? Robert Clifford? James Montgomery?

NO! By any objective measure, James J. Banks is the Greatest Lawyer in the History of Chicago! He has NEVER lost a case.

When the Sun-Times recently profiled J.J., J.J. did not return calls. But the Sun-Times did talk to his Unc, Alderman William Banks ($, 36th), who just happens to be long-standing Chairman the City Council's Committee on Zoning. The Sun-Times pressed Ald. Banks for an example of his nephew losing a case before the City Council. In repsonse, all Ald. Banks could come up with is to say he weeds out some projects BEFORE the get to the City Council. (We will have to take Ald. Bank's word for that I guess since there is no public record of this informal Uncle-Nephew vetting process). With his response Ald. Banks confirmed a legal record that is born out by the official record of the proceedings of the Chicago City Council:

J. J. Banks has NEVER failed to pass a zoning change which he introduced to the City Council on behalf of a client.

Going into the meeting, a rumor was circulating that Ms. Abels was telling people privately that she has a done deal. Neighbors, I regret to inform that if history is prologue, she is correct.

Hugh said...

Here is an excerpt from the Sun-Times article:

Ald. Banks said his staff reviews all of his nephew's zoning cases in the 36th Ward, determining whether the project belongs in the ward. While most of the nephew's cases pass muster with the alderman's staff, he said, "we actually say no frequently."

Ald. Banks said he has rejected about eight projects by James Banks so far this year. Those never made it to the City Council. The alderman said such cases are typically never filed because only recommended projects make it to the Zoning Committee.

"Almost all these matters are predetermined before they get anywhere near the [Zoning] Committee," the alderman said.

Hugh said...

Here is a link to the J. J. Banks profile from the Sun-Times:

Zoning For Sale
Attorney Cashed in on Uncle's Turf
BY TIM NOVAK AND STEVE WARMBIR, Chicago Sun-Times Staff Reporters, November 28, 2005

Chip Bagg said...

Do you people ever do anything else?
Craig has provided us with a clear picture of this beautiful project.
(Thank you, Craig.)
Load Craig's url into your address line and take another look.
Maybe a larger version of his photo will convince you.

The proposal was very colorful and hung high enough for all to see.
From what I can see it was also thoughtfully notated with explanations of what is depicted.
The bottom couple of floors look like a landscaped parking garage (see parking levels and tree).
Then an exciting arrangement of uniquely shaped condo units above that.
And on the top floor a garden (see large flower), a basketball court (see basketball),
and what looks to be an American flag.

However, no one in the picture even seems interested in the plan.
Well, maybe one or two people. The chick in the tan coat may be looking at it.
Why are you complaining if you didn't even study it?
But NO. You were all too interested in getting into the DANCE that was being held at the same time as the
the meeting in the Dance Studio. You all look way to concerned whether or not
you'll get into the damned dance rather than carefully studying this building proposal.

And another thing. Why do you all care if someone is a queen or not.
I thought up here in Rogers Park we were beyond such narrow minded concerns.
So someone is a queen. So what! WHO CARES? I thought all were welcome here.
I have never been so disgusted this early in the day.

QuestionAuthority said...

Who cares if she pimped and profited from condos for mortgage fraud sleezebags like Kakvand-- I do! Who knows, maybe she donated all the profits to charity, or gave it to the FBI. Maybe she can explain that she never made anything off Kakvand -- I don't know. Did she stop him or assist him when he raped Rogers Park -- I don't know.

Should she not be responsible for actions and answer a few questions? Is the Kakvand case not the most serious case of mortgage fraud in Rogers Park if not City of Chicago history?

Did she say a word about this last night?

Hugh said...

Real estate development means assembling a team; investors, architects, contractors, key Aldermen, and lobbyists.

Here's the official list of registered lobbyists and their clients from Our Fair City's Board of Ethics:

Registered Lobbyist List

Conspicously absent from Bank's declared list of clients: Connie Abels. So who was Banks working for Wed night? I doubt it was a pro bono appearance.

But included among Bank's prestigious clients are:

Robert Coe, Aldermanic pal Rich Aronson's north shore financial backer who is building a new home for DevCorp North on Morse

Mo Siddiqi, far north side real estate mogul

Rudy Acosta, rap record producer whose proposal for a castle in the Irving Park neighborhood delighted his new neighbors.

Wait Till They Find Out About the Moat
By Ben Joravsky,The Works, CHICAGO READER | DECEMBER 2, 2005

Been There - Done That said...

Chipp Bagg: If you were there, you know that in the room normally used as the "Dance Studio" were 125 people attending the presentation of plans for 7015 N Sheridan Rd. with another 20 or so looking in from the hallway. All were attentive both to the plans and the speakers, barely visible in the shadows of the dark stage.

If you are suggesting that the presentation itself was in fact a "DANCE', you may be right; there was a lot of fancy footwork on stage and a lot of twittering going on. I think Joe Moore has chosen Connie Abels as his partner and will put his name on her "Dance Card". After all, with J.J. Banks on board, that tells me that Connie is investing serious $$ in this project.

More that we know, protecting the residential character of out lakefront, rests on this precedent-setting episode in the history of Sheridan Road.

Hugh said...

> I wish I had the "Condo Queen" ad, from the Lerner paper, of her with the crown -- it was an entire page!

Me, too.

The graphic you describe is an important artifact in the history of the decline & fall of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance.

Fetch it, make a copy, and we'll scan it and post it.

Archives of the Lerner News are available at the Sulzer Regional Library on Lincoln and via the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society (call ahead).

rpobserver said...

Isn't Ms Abels an active Board member of the RPCC?? Hasn't she been an active member of the RPCC for 15+ years?? Yet she can't find the Lakefront Protection Ordinance!! As everyone should know, RPCC came into being fighting to estabilish the Ordinance back in the late 50's/early 60's. Now here she is proposing a 7 story (originally 11?)structure,seeking to circumvent the Ordinance. Ms Abels needs to be more forthcoming or better informed.

Annie on Ashland said...

Her e-mail doesn't even work. This woman sounds like someone you don't want to do business with.

Hugh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gf said...

chipp bag-

mr. bagg, trust that someone is seriously looking at the building proposal. please feel free to fill in any blanks when it is complete.

Michael J. Harrington said...

Last night we also heard from Ms. Abels' about her hope that this project becomes her "LEGACY" to Rogers Park. She was very earnest, and I felt she was sincere about that. But, most of the rest of us hope that legacy can be invested in more appropriate sites in our neighborhood.

Also, on the subject of Ms. Abels' goals and objectives, we heard from her architect who (surely unplanned and where he got off the script) found himself talking uncontrollably about the project's profit potential for Ms. Abels.

The guy waxed eloquent about how an important goal of this project was to significantly boost Ms. Abels' "retirement" fund! I thought, “Her what????” Oh, no, he didn’t just go there, did he? Yes, Mr. and Ms. America he sure did! There was a collective grown in the audience, a few people laughed out loud. That's why ya gotta go to these meetings, something happens, someone sez something peculiar, or something is ALWAYS revealed that trumps (pun intended) anything on reality TV.

Thankfully, some developers do get it. We’re interested in our community’s benefit first. Your personal gain, not at all, because that’s a given.

Hugh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hugh said...

Please Help Educate Connie

"I looked for the Lakefront Protection Ordinance online, and I couldn't find it."

- Connie Abels, 2/1/06

No worry, that's why you hire a high-powered attorney, to handle the legal minutia.

Ms. Abels needs some remedial web searching tutorial help, but for now it is important that she spin up as quickly as possible on the laws relevant to her proposal. Please help educate Connie. Please send her an e-mail with the following links:

Dear Connie,

Here is the link to the Lakefront Protection Ordinace:



Hope this helps!

Sally said...

Well said Mr. Harrington.

Morse Man said...

I love the way you tell a story Craig. The ringer spanish chick has got to feel like an ass today.

Carol J. said...

I didn't make the meeting. Looking at the plan I would say keep the zoning the same. But that won't happen will it?

RPneighbor said...


MajSquarenuts said...

rpobserver and qa, you have a member of the community putting forward a proposal that will greatly help/hurt Sheridan Road and the lakefront, depending on your point of view. I personally like the idea, but would like to hear how some of the concerns expressed by neighbors are addressed, like trash, deliveries, building height, etc. Many of the people who spoke against the proposal the other night raised very valid concerns about how this building will impact the neighborhood and lakefront. These concerns should be the focus. This developer and every developer who asks for zoning changes should address them before any further considerations are made of their request. Why do you need to spew lies and innuendos? If you don't like the plan, rip it for its flaws or offer alternatives like many others here have done. If you have an axe to grind with Abels, take it up with her. Do you honestly believe that while the FBI was so distracted by 9/11 that they "forgot" about Abels and that she collected "100's of thousands of dollars in fees from this scam"? Do you honestly believe that they were so distracted that even though they had the resources to hunt down Kakvand in Canada, they couldn't muster up the manpower to track down Abels right here in RP? You have got to be crappin me! Now you want me to help you on your quest to slam a good member of the community. I think if you are so interested in the truth, you will take the time actually look for it! Here are some suggestions: Hugh is a wealth of information, he has given you the locations of news organizations for your quest for the crown ad. While you are there, do the research into the Kakvand scam. Big hint: find the names of the officials involved in the investigation. Find the names of the officials from the FBI. Call them. There were many lenders who were scammed. Call them. Abels was scammed. Call Abels. Craig posted a link with her phone number here:

The information is there. You will indeed find that Abels was scammed by Kakvand, just like everyone else was. You will find Abels did not get 100’s of thousands of dollars.

What you will find in that Abels is trying to play a part in making our community better, just like most of the people here, and presumably you are.

Do you really believe that Abels can dupe the FBI and all the other public and private investigators, internationally, who were involved with the Kakvand scam investigation, but not you? Perhaps it is you or your sources that hold key information that you have not brought forward? If so, please, please contact the FBI now with those details! We have the right to expect that ALL of those responsible for the scam be held accountable.

The truth is a much simpler explanation: she was scammed too. But again, if you know better than everyone else, please bring forward those facts. Not only will the FBI be interested in hearing them, but so will the rest of us!

rpobserver said...

Why dosen't Ms Ables address this directly by giving the community the details and time line of her involvement with Mr. Kakvand. That might go a long way in clearing up issue. As a RE broker with a large presence in our community, it seems to me that is the least she can do(and should have done some time ago)!

QuestionAuthority said...

I have observed Connie Abels' real estate projects, where she has acted as either realtor, developer or both, for years. Sorry, but I don't have a good impression of her work and techniques. I've seen her be very agressive about marketing very marginal properties "with no money down". Other projects fail to sell and are converted back to rentals, while others drag on and on without selling or being completed. Sometimes there have been what appeared to be sales of units in buildings that were far from completed, as if the developer arranged some less than arms-length sales to get the money to complete the project. Remember that 6 flat across form Leona's -- whatever happened to that? Is it still under construction? Are units sold there, and how so, if the building is not completed?

I understand that she really wants to promote RP and agressively does so, but I just don't think she's given the community quite the image I'd like to see promoted. When developers operate here, I'd like it to be professionals, with adequate resources, who create a good finished product. I don't allege that she caused the Kakvand scheme -- just that she helped him promote it by serving as his marketing voice, at a time when anyone -- especially an experienced realtor -- could see that something was rotten. What was she thinking?

So I think her track record is something to factor in when considering the pros and cons of this latest idea. And given the scope of the Kakvand scheme, perhaps she could give the community some details about her involvement and -- hopefully -- lessons learned.

MajSquarenuts said...

Ok rpobserver and qa, I hear you, but the point is still the same. Have either one of you ever bothered to even call Ables and ask for an explanation, even for a starting point? What have you done to find out the truth about this whole issue that you are so passionate about? You say you don’t allege she ‘caused the Kakvand scheme’, but you clearly mean to imply that at the bare minimum, she was a conspirator who willingly committed fraud for financial gain and seems to somehow slipped thru the hands of FBI after 9/11. Again, you choose to blame one of many victims in this scam, rather than attempting to avail yourself of the truth! Who in authority have you called or written to? Rather than shoot first, ask questions later, you should look for your answers first, not make assumptions based on what you heard. That’s all. If you think the quality of her condos suck or you don’t like the idea of people buying condos with no money down, that doesn’t make her satan or a criminal.

I do agree with you that if you have personal knowledge (rather than the old gossip/rumor mill) that she can’t properly manage a building, you have every right to question her competence on future buildings. That’s legitimate. But that’s a far cry from calling someone a criminal based on what you heard, but haven’t bother to check out before you pass it off as fact. I think this dead horse has been beaten enough.

It just seems to me that we should be working together to create some kind of comprehensive plan for our neighborhood as it continues to develop. From what I’ve read on this blog, we have tons of smart people here with good ideas and clearly good intentions for RP. Me, I liked this plan. It looks cool, seems innovative and it at least shows someone willing to do something other than the same old six flat over and over again. There are very legitimate objections to this plan that have been raised and should be talked about. Maybe there is a better plan than what she proposed and, just another six flat. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not smart enough or creative enough to have it, but I know someone or someones here must be. Hugh says it’s a done deal already, and he seems to have a lot of information, but who knows. How about some ideas folks?

Hugh said...

> Abels was scammed by Kakvand, just like everyone else

Abels is NOT like everyone else. Abels is supposedly a LICENSED, trained, highly-experienced real estate BROKER. There's a different standard. While it is not at all surprising that a crooked real estate developer could pull mortgage fraud off on first-time homebuyers, a broker as victim is something else entirely.

MajSquarenuts said...

ahh, I see!'s the old she should have known the man would rape her routine...the facts are still the same. She found out, she turned him in....zheesh!...die dead horse die! lol

rpobserver said...

The bottom line is: Why dosn't Ms Abels address the issue by providing the RP community with a full accounting and time line of her involvment with Kakvand. If she was a 'victim' of the scam, as this community was, let's hear about it. Ms Ables, in addition to being a RE Broker, has served for many years in very important, public RP organizations,i.e.,RPCC, RPBG, DevCorp and should be anxious to clear the air about the matter once and for all. And by the way 'squarenuts', the only rape that occured here was that of RP.

ChicagoStonepro said...

Re: Brokers involved in mortgage funding scams - Hugh's hit the nail on the head. This isn't about a greenhorn. This woman has been around enough to know better.

The fact Ms. Abels still has her license could very well be that she was simply a victim. More likely, she knew something was up, and for *some* reason, closed her eyes, kept her mouth shut, and drew on her level of experience to set up enough plausible deniability, until things got out-of-hand. She was problably simply taking advantage of a real-estate opportunity.

I can't imagine the Feds missing a money trail on her. If there was anything there, maybe she traded what she had on Kakvand, to make it go away.

So, why'd she turn on him? Did someone tip her off when Kakvand crossed the wrong line somewhere? Was it self-preservation? Or, was it simply that she figured he'd never mess with her, due to what she had on him, and got pissed off when he got too far underwater on her?

Somehow, something went wrong between them, and he lost big. Innocent victim? I doubt it. She seems to know what she's doing, and when to call in her cards.

I doubt very much she was drawing money from the financing, though. This case was too big for her to not be nicked for it, if that was the case.

ChicagoStonepro said...

You know, all this neighborhood energy is good, but it's just too easy for developers and self-interested politicians to push it aside. Something's needed to concentrate all this great people power. We need a set of core principles, that drive a Master Development Plan.

What is THE big issue for all of us here? Crime; Air Quality; Slum Landlords; Out of Control Taxes/Rents/etc; Dog walking on our front yards and dog shit on the sidewalks; Jealousy of the Wealthier and Better Connected?

How about Road Rage?

Why not call it Quality of Life?

Aren't we really fighting/talking about population density, and how it affects the quality of our lives?

I'm thinking of population density in both number and mix of residents, and number and mix of small businesses.

Why isn't anyone talking about all the traffic around here, and what's happening as we increase the number of bedrooms in Roger's Park? Why isn't anyone talking about what it will take to have a neighborhood where a higher percentage of folks can work in the area in which they live?

Can a "master plan" be sketched for Roger's Park, as a guide to managing our neighborhood's quality of life?

Sure. Why not? And you know what? If enough of us can get on the same page, things will improve, because we pay these politicians' salaries, and we pay them to carry out OUR will.

Put it in writing, with enough local support, and we have real power. We need a neighborhood master development plan. Without it, our best efforts are simply not good enough in the long run.

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