Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she’s suing developer Thomas Roszak for failing to comply with accessibility laws in the design and construction of the Sienna condo complex in Evanston.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she’s suing developer Thomas Roszak for failing to comply with accessibility laws in the design and construction of the Sienna condo complex in Evanston.

“The developer has failed to ensure that the newly-built residences are safe and accessible as required under the law,” Madigan said in a news release. “The accessibility standards have been in place for more than 20 years. There is no excuse for putting residents and visitors with disabilities in danger by failing to ensure that there is an accessible path in and out of these complexes.”

The lawsuit claims Roszak targeted potential buyers with disabilities when marketing the property at 1720-1740 Oak Avenue., claiming it would be easily accessible to people with disabilities.

The developer has not finished the project, leaving an excavated pit where the accessible route for people with disabilities was planned.

As a result, Madigan says, there is no accessible entrance for people with disabilities; and other residents and visitors can only enter the development through a cumbersome, inaccessible path that requires trespassing through an unaffiliated parking garage.

Madigan’s lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ misleading advertising violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants’ failure to fully implement measures needed to provide accessibility for residents with disabilities violates the Illinois Human Rights Act and the Environmental Barriers Act.

In addition to Roszak, Madigan’s complaint names several companies Roszak controls that were involved in the development project.

The suit asks the court to order the defendants to address the accessibility violations and pay a $50,000 civil penalty for each violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, a $25,000 civil penalty for violating the Illinois Human Rights Act, and a $250 fine for each day the complex continues to violate the Environmental Barriers Act in addition to costs for the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Roszak
    I am all for creating accessible residences, but way to kick a developer when they are down. There can be no doubt Roszak has lost millions on that project already and I believe is being sued on many fronts. Lisa Madigan and the State of illinois, has decided to join the crowd in kicking developers further down the reccession hole.

    1. This suit is a long-time
      This suit is a long-time coming to Roszak. Do you think that these things are just assembled overnight?

      And as far as the developer being down, he brought that onto himself. He’s held himself up on a flimsy, dishonest pedestal for too long.

  2. Lesser of two evils.
    I think Roszak’s developments are a cheap, ugly blight on Evanston.
    But I think Madigan is a pointless phony wannabe.

    It’s gonna be tough to choose sides on this one.

  3. Access to Condos & developer
    The builder/developer has failed to do the right thing! If the economy was good, in many instances Inclusive Access still would not have been created, what would be thier excuse then..ya, ya I didn’t know the law? Individuals with Disabilities should be provided equal access like all other condo owners are given. All states need an Attorney General like Lisa Madigan.

    1. If the economy were good,
      If the economy were good, they would have built the other two buildings therefore granting access.

      I’m actually shopping for a condo in Downtown Evanston and this complex is one I’m considering. Fortunately, I am not disabled, but hopefully a solution will be available to those who need it.

  4. Roszak and his architect know better
    I don’t believe for a second that they didn’t know that the current entry situation to the completed buildings wasn’t to code. They will likely play ball now and build a proper entrance, but I’m sure they didn’t want to spend the money until their hand was forced.

  5. Accessibility
    Where was the City of Evanston department of buildings in all this? A building permit cannot be issued unless the project drawings are reviewed and approved for all zoning and building code requirements, including accessibility.

    Even if the approved permit drawings for the entire four building Siena development showed a different entry and accessibility configuration than what has been built to date, an occupancy permit is still required for each stage of the development before anyone can move in. Why didn’t any of the various building inspectors who inspected each completed building for code compliance notice an accessibility problem? That’s someone’s job.

    The details of the noncompliance were not specified. Perhaps Roszak, the architect, the drawing examiners and the building inspectors all thought that, according to their good faith interpretation of the accessibility code, the project does comply. Anyone who has ever dealt with the accessibility code recognizes that its provisions aren’t exactly crystal clear. Maybe this is just a case of an ambitious prosecutor looking to advance her career by picking on a high profile developer.

    1. Response to MetaCynic on accessibility
      The building had a serious structural failure (the weight of too much landscaping soil caused a parking deck to collapse). I recall that the building would have been fully accessible had this not occurred.

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