The head of the Cook County Land Bank Authority, whose dealings have been the subject of a series of reports by the Chicago Sun-Times, has resigned.
Robert Rose Jr. submitted a letter of resignation, dated Monday, saying he plans to leave his $225,000-a-year job as executive director of the county agency at the end of June.
Rose, 50, who isn’t a county employee, has been working under a contract that expired on March 15. He signed a new contract on Friday to extend his employment terms for an additional 106 days. His last day will be June 30, he said in his resignation letter.
“I am transitioning to the private sector to continue supporting community development in Chicago and helping developers find access to capital,” Rose wrote.
Rose, who did not respond to messages seeking comment, has run the county agency since 2015.
Since the land bank, which Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Bridget Gainer pushed to create, first began acquiring and selling properties in 2014, it’s been involved in a number of questionable dealings, the Sun-Times has reported. The land bank:
- Sold two West Side lots to a convicted drug dealer while he was under federal indictment.
- Sold a suburban home to a land bank employee — Rose’s assistant — despite having higher bids from others wanting to buy the property.
- Agreed to take ownership of a building owned by Chester Wilson, chief of staff to Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), then wiped out more than $200,000 in back property taxes and interest — and sold the building for $40,000 to Wilson’s former business partner.
- Was going to wipe out years of past-due property taxes on a mall in Chinatown and then give the property back for just $3,500 to the same owner that failed to pay them — until the county agency’s lawyer said it couldn’t do that.
The county plans a “national search” to replace Rose, according to Tarrah Cooper Wright, a private contractor hired to speak on behalf of the county agency.
In a written statement, she also quoted Gainer, who didn’t respond to an interview request, as praising Rose.
Speaking during an appearance Monday at a COVID-19 vaccination site with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Preckwinkle said Rose “has resigned to pursue other opportunities, and, no, he was not asked to resign.”