The Vantage windfall

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With the grout still setting in upper-floor bathrooms, the brand-new Vantage building has been sold to investors for a whopping $100 million plus.

At 21 stories, the building towers, for now, over the corner of Lake and Forest. Towers also in the amount its sale will generate in real estate transfer taxes owed to the village of Oak Park. Sell your bungalow or sell your 270-unit apartment tower and you are going to pay $8 on every thousand dollars of sales price. Our Wednesday Journal calculator computes this unexpected haul to top $800,000 in found money for the village government.

First, we say good for the Vantage developers. They worked and risked all through a devastating real estate collapse to keep a shaky project alive. And when the recession finally ended, they constructed a signature building, signed top-notch restaurant and service tenants and leased up nearly 20 floors of apartments in record time. They earned their substantial profit.

Here's the question we put to Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb last week during an interview: If you believe that intense residential and commercial construction is a key element in, at least, moderating Oak Park's rising property tax burden, then how should village government use this unplanned, unbudgeted windfall?

He gave us the answer we wanted to hear. Abu-Taleb said he'd recommend to his village board and the staff that the $800,000 be used in the next budget year to maintain or reduce village government's property tax levy.

Now we want to hear from the village and the other taxing bodies about their plans once annual property tax revenue begins arriving from the four high rises — Vantage, the Emerson, Harlem and South, and the soon to be constructed Albion. That ought to be $4 million per year and it cannot simply be absorbed into the spending stream of the parks, library, township and school districts.

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