CHICAGO- Developer JDL Properties is close to clinching a deal to buy the Blake-Lamb Funeral Home property near Washington Square, a spokesperson for the prolific Near-North side condo builder says.

“We really don’t want to talk about it [the Blake-Lamb purchase] because we feel that a deal is imminent,” says Ellen Nemirow, spokesperson for JDL CEO Jim Letchinger. Ms. Nemirow refused to provide further details.

Local brokers, however, say that the down zoning of the Washington Square area on the city’s Near North side has had a dramatic effect on the price at which the Blake-Lamb property will eventually be sold. Brokers spoke to said that talk within the brokerage community is that the down zoning has cut the price Letchinger was willing to pay for Blake-Lamb, which is owned by SCI Service Corporation International of Houston, to $5 million from $10 million.

The maximum height for a structure on the Blake-Lamb site under the new zoning, passed by the City Council two weeks ago, would be 15-stories. JDL was planning on putting up a 21-story building on the site.

Condo development on the Near-North side is booming and JDL is an active participant in the wave of new development. JDL won a contentious battle to tear down the Coe Mansion, which is just up the street from Blake-Lamb and was the site of Ranalli’s Restaurant for years. The developer is putting a large condo structure on the site of the demolished mansion.

To some extant it is the Coe Mansion demolition that spurred last month’s down zoning ordinance. The new ordinance was approved for a strip on the east side of LaSalle St. between Elm and Chestnut streets and the buildings immediately across the street from the site of the former Coe Mansion where JDL’s new development is going up, among others. `

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