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PARK RIDGE, IL-While city officials were overwhelmed by the response to their request for qualifications, some aldermen were unimpressed with the selection of five finalists to redevelop the former Bredemann car dealership site at Touhy Avenue and Busse Highway. In addition to the list of five teams, some aldermen object to a sudden push by Acting Mayor Michael MaRous that they say strays from the game plan the city had set.

Firms such as U.S. Equities Real Estate, New England Builders as well as teams involved in projects ranging from Niketown on North Michigan Avenue to the Downtown redevelopment of suburban Bartlett did not make the cut, notes 6th Ward Alderman Rex Parker, labeling the list of finalists “mediocre.”

“I’ve never been so disappointed in a process,” Parker says. “It’s a disaster.”

References and financial qualifications of the finalists were not thoroughly checked before Monday’s city council meeting, note 1st Ward Alderman Donald N. Crampton and 5th Ward Alderman Mark Anderson. “The council had zero input. I’m unhappy about that,” Anderson says. “I’m very insulted with the way it was done.”

MaRous admits he personally pushed City Manager Tim Schuenke and S.B. Friedman & Co. for a recommendation. Lengthy sessions among staff members, and with Stephen Friedman produced quick consensus on the top three teams, with two more added after further discussion. Schuenke says his staff is getting “mixed messages” from the council.

“This process has been going on for about three years,” MaRous says. “We need to move forward.”

At least one other alderman was pleased with the list, singling out teams led by Mesirow Stein, Mid-America Asset Management and Opus North. “I think they really took a look at Park Ridge and what we wanted to do in our comprehensive plan,” says 4th Ward Alderman Howard P. Frimark. “I think they’re the three ‘Cadillac’ programs presented to the council.”

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