A 20-story hotel and condo building envisioned for downtown Oak Park is about a year behind schedule, after the village board OK'd the delay last week.
Chicago-based Sertus Capital Partners now has until December to apply for permits to build the development, and until February 2015 to finish building it.
Village hall has been working for several years now to partner with Sertus to reinvent a high-traffic intersection at Lake and Forest. Those talks came to a head a year ago 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. Last week, Michael Glazier, principal of Sertus, spoke candidly about the slowness of bankrolling the hotel. Last year, banks would hardly give him the time of day, but he said they seem to opening up a little more recently.
"The economy is still an issue — particularly for housing hotels, it's difficult," Glazier told trustees. "I will say, however, there's a bit of a thaw now in terms of there being investor interest."
The 140-room hotel, 89-condo project has been "well-received" by those investors, according to Glazier. But no one has been willing to dip their toe in the water yet. Hotel chains are interested in sticking their name on the building, he said, but the challenge remains to tease out the money to make it happen.
Glazier said they'll start determining this summer whether the project can get back on track. It would take about two months to prepare applications for permits and would cost more than $1 million, he said.
"We're not ready to throw in the towel by any means because these things can change rapidly," Glazier said.
In exchange for the extension, Village Attorney Ray Heise said that Sertus is allowing the village to occupy its vacant land for a public use until the hotel is built.
Oak Parker David Barsotti, a vocal opponent of the project, urged the board to vote against the extension. But trustees emphasized that the village does not own the land on the corner, and there is no impact on the village in giving Sertus more time.
"It's not like we're giving something up that would otherwise be occurring," said Trustee Jon Hale.
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