NORTH LAWNDALE — The city has approved the sale of two vacant lots to the wife of former Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th), who retired from City Council earlier this month.
The agreement allows Natashee Scott and her husband to scoop up two city-owned lots next to their North Lawndale home for $8,000, a significant discount. Planning officials said the land sale crosses no legal or ethical lines.
After being sworn in to City Council earlier Wednesday, new Ald. Monique Scott (24th), former Ald. Michael Scott’s sister, recused herself from the vote since her brother is benefiting from the land sale.
RELATED: Monique Scott Appointed To Her Brother’s Job As 24th Ward Alderman As He Retires
The lot at 1254 S. Albany Ave. was sold to Natashee Scott for $1,000 through the city’s Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program ANLAP. The program allows residents to buy land appraised for up to $10,000 at a discount if it is next to property they already own. The lot purchased by Natashee Scott was appraised at $7,000, according to the ordinance.
The other lot at 1256 S. Albany Ave. was sold for $7,000, which is the fair market value of the land, according to the ordinance.
Even though the sale was to a former alderman’s wife, there is nothing improper about the agreement, which was vetted by the city’s Board of Ethics, said Spokesman Peter Strazzabosco, spokesman for the city’s Department of Planning and Development. The lots were publicly advertised, but there were no other bids on the two properties from competing buyers attempting to purchase the land, he said.
The city’s ethics guidelines bar elected officials from having any financial interest in the purchase of city-owned property — unless the land is sold as part of a competitive bidding process that is open to the public, according to the city’s policy.
The city’s land sale programs are aimed at allowing private buyers to purchase the lots “for their personal or business uses” so rather than sitting vacant and unused, the land can serve “productive purposes that increase property values,” Strazzabosco said.
The ordinances require the purchasers to transform the land into a landscaped open space, which falls in line with the Scotts’ vision to make it into an outdoor play space for their kids.
Michael Scott previously announced that he would resign from office to spend more time with his family and spearhead community and industry relations for Cinespace Chicago, the center of the city’s film and TV industry.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office quietly announced the former alderman’s sister Monique Scott as her pick to fill the post on a holiday afternoon Monday. Lightfoot picked Monique Scott after evaluating a shortlist of three candidates selected from a broader pool of applicants by an advisory committee of three community leaders based in North Lawndale, the neighborhood that makes up the bulk of the 24th Ward.
Lightfoot selected the new alderwoman not because of family connections, but because she fit the bill as someone with “a heart for the community, who lived in the community, who understood the trials and tribulations… and the desire for progress,” the mayor said.
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