“A Chicago planning department veteran who helped shepherd city approvals for the renovation of Wrigley Field, creation of the Fulton Market Innovation District and plans for megaprojects Lincoln Yards and The 78 has been tapped to run a Cook County agency designed to give new life to tax-delinquent houses.
“Eleanor Gorski, who spent more than two decades in the city’s planning and development department before leaving last fall for a role at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will start in August as the new executive director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority, the group announced. Gorski will replace Rob Rose, who announced in March he would step down from the post that month after a six-year run.
“Gorski takes the reins at an agency the Cook County Board launched in 2013 to help address the area’s massive inventory of foreclosed homes. The authority acquires distressed residential properties and clears away tax liens and other debt before selling them to developers. The homes are then rehabbed and ideally sold, restoring their property tax value to the county.
“The agency has beefed up its portfolio to nearly 1,200 properties from 30 when Rose took over and has returned more than $14 million to Cook County tax rolls, according to a CCLBA statement. Gorski said the opportunity to use the Land Bank’s “incredibly efficient arsenal of tools” to effect change in blighted neighborhoods helped draw her to the job.
“‘I knew what a great tool it was for us as a city, and I also knew how much more it could scale up . . . not just with housing but with commercial work and open space,’ Gorski said.
“In addition to working as a connecting piece between City Hall and developers on high-profile projects, Gorski played a key role in the creation of the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus program in 2016, which allows developers in certain parts of downtown to build larger projects than zoning limits allow if they pay into a fund used to award grants to small businesses on the city’s South and West sides.
“Gorski said she plans to build off of that experience connecting private sector partners with public goals, ‘bringing my knowledge of development of other parts of the city to come to bear in these neighborhoods that may not have seen that type of activity.’ (Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 6/22/21)