By Anna Lothson
The Oak Park village board and village staff has said the development timeline for the Colt site and surrounding parcels in downtown Oak Park is an aggressive one, but have said they're committed to helping bring the $70-million-dollar project to completion.
Multiple updates, including one provided to the village manager last week from Business Services Manager Loretta Daly, indicate the project is moving forward at the current site that has served as a village parking lot since 2009.
The Colt site, formally referred to as the Lake Street/Westgate/North Boulevard site, has been a project of the village's economic development team since 2008 with Clark Street Developers, the identified preferred developer. The financial downturn halted plans for five years, but soon the village board should have the details of a Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) for the mixed-use development in its hands.
A village memo written by Daly was part of the materials provided Oct. 25 to the Economic Development Committee of the Board for a status update. The residential/commercial project consists of two structures — roughly 80 feet and 122 feet high— that will also have two levels of public parking, three levels of private parking and six levels of residential units. A bridge at the third level, which some neighbors have spoken against, would permit residential access to parking and other amenities.
The document that outlines the overall project description and specifies what each party is responsible for, also known as the term sheet, was approved in July by the village board. A draft RDA has since been created and sent to the developer. According to Daly's memo, the developer comments will be forwarded for village staff review soon.
The remaining issue of the project involves parking, which is both a public and private aspect of the project. The developer has agreed to pay for the construction of 348 spaces in the parking structure, but according to the agreement, the assessment of the property shows an additional 88 spaces are needed. This would be a village expense, the memo states, and would involve adding an additional level of parking and cost roughly $2.24 million.
The memo also provides information about the financing options the developer hopes to secure. Estimates show the difference in the available projected financing rates could create a gap of roughly $2.5 million, according to the memo.
"The negotiation team continues to review the overall project to identify cost savings in an effort to reduce this shortfall," Daly wrote in the memo.
Negotiations should be concluded by early November, according to Daly, and the first review by the village board of a RDA should be completed at the board's Nov. 18 meeting.
Because the property is owned by the village, Clark Street Development must go through this initial negotiation and the RDA to ensure the village is getting a project that aligns with its downtown master plan.
The RDA delves into guidelines about what Oak Park and the developer agree upon in terms of number of apartment units, how much retail space will be included and parking requirements.
The plans, as currently reported on by both the developer and the village, has the project being finalized by the end of the year so site development would begin next spring.
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