On the same day that Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Marisa Novara as the Commissioner of Housing, Lightfoot also announced that Eleanor Gorski would be the acting Commissioner of Planning & Development. Gorski was previously the Deputy Commissioner of DPD's Bureau of Planning, Historic Preservation & Sustainability. Both appointments require City Council confirmation, which is expected today, at the new City Council’s first meeting. (Meet the 12 new alders.)
Many of our clients will be familiar with Gorski if they renovated landmarked buildings and buildings in a landmark district. Owners of properties in Fulton Market will also be familiar with her and her staff’s work creating the Fulton Market Innovation District. The Landmarks staff reviews building permit applications when proposed work affects the landmarked aspects of buildings (in a landmark district, façade work comes under review).
Eleanor has had exceptionally broad experience in urban design and policy matters. She immersed herself in landmark design matters from her first day at the Landmarks Commission in 1996 and has applied her energy and insight to broader urban policy issues over the last several years. (Back then, the Landmarks Commission was part of the planning department, and now it's a separate, appointed body.)
Tim Barton, MAPS's zoning attorney who used to work alongside Gorski, said, said "Eleanor is easily one of the City's most intelligent and perceptive officials."
Gorski led the review for the Wrigley Field stadium renovations – a landmarked building since 2004 – that expanded the eating and drinking establishments, modified the seating, signs, scoreboards, the outfield sections.
Gorski has experience as an architect, as well. In 2003 she became a fellow at the American Academy of Rome, studying preservation practices in Rome, Berlin, and Amsterdam.
In addition to preservation and landmark permit review, the Department of Planning & Development makes recommendations on changes to the zoning map (rezoning), when requested by alders, and sells land owned by the City of Chicago. DPD additionally manages the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and corresponding density bonus program that many developers have used to purchase incremental FAR for new developments. The department’s ARO compliance functions were moved to the Department of Housing in January.
Photos provided by the Chicago Department of Planning & Development.