Oak Park might have to wait longer still for its tallest building — a 20-story hotel tower planned for the corner of Lake and Forest.
Village hall has been working for years now, trying to partner with a Chicago developer to reinvent that high-traffic intersection. Those talks came to a head last March when the village board approved the $85 million hotel, condo and public garage complex.
But the project has been mired in delays because of the weak economy. Village Manager Tom Barwin said the development is being pushed back again. The developer, Sertus Capital Partners, says they need another nine months, delaying the completion of the building by about a year from its original schedule.
"I think it's fair to say the delay is caused by the recession and the financial meltdown that we've all gone through," Barwin said.
The village gave Sertus an extension back in November, pushing deadlines back by about three months. But Barwin said that was just a quick fix while he was out of town last fall, and this next extension will give the developer the extra year they need.
If the board approves the delay, likely on March 7, Sertus would have until this December to submit building plans to village hall, Barwin said.
In a brief interview last week, Michael Glazier, principal for Sertus, said he hopes their wait-and-see approach will pay off.
"It's just a question of allowing some time to pass so things get better and we have an ability to try to do something here in the marketplace," he said.
He was uncertain when, exactly, they would submit their plans to the village. He declined to discuss how efforts to nail down financing for the project are going.
"There's nothing I can report that wouldn't be premature or misinformation at this point in time," he said. "First things first — we've got to get this thing extended, and if the village doesn't come through with the extension, then it's over."
Baum Realty Group recently sent out information, marketing the first- and second-floor retail space in the tower. A real estate agent with the company deferred comment to the developer.
Baum's materials labeled the building as apartments, rather than condos and a hotel, as proposed. But Glazier called that an "oversight" by the company.
Oak Parker David Barsotti — a 13-year resident and vocal critic of the project — thinks village hall should listen to the market and let the project die. He believes if an extension is granted, Sertus will be back in a year asking for another.
"It is frustrating that the board is dead set on building this, regardless of the blatantly flawed economics used to support this project," he said.
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