Oak Park hotel tower about a year behind schedule

Developer says hospitality portion most challenging part of project

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

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.

Reader Comments

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k. from oak park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 7:36 PM

@j.: Because he's a politician. A mostly friendly one, but a politician nonetheless. When you find questions he won't answer, write those items down...it's his agenda. For reference: position on the SRO they want to build in the old Comcast building (see what I did there? by putting it out there, it ensures that he won't answer!)

j.oak park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 5:28 PM

Why does Ray Johnson only answer some questions? The tax revenue, if the project ever gets built, will be put into the tif district...i am pretty sure. so it will not go to the schools or other taxing bodies for some time.

River Forest Resident  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:16 PM

Tom Scharre is awesome. I've become a fan and enjoy reading what he has to say.

OP  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:25 PM

Gibberish? Ha. More like Hotel,Condos and Retail! Tax revenue. That's what excites me. Coming soon to Forest and Lake.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 6:10 PM

OP, you must be buying it in the extra-large economy size because you never run out of gibberish.

OP  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 10:54 AM

Stankus what? Thats the problem- you live in the past. Stagnet. Not moving forward. Stuck. Typical of the whiners. Lake and Forest will have a wonderful development there before you know it. The ball is rolling. I also remember when the American Indian lived on this here land. What about Mr and Mrs Kettelstrings.........

OP Resident  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 10:19 AM

Nobody is whining, OP. You are a skilled at dodgeball but failing in your Oak Park history. The answer is 9 years that the Stankus Hole "sat" at the corner of Forest and Lake.

OP  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 3:14 AM

Sit back, wait, and listen

crystal ball? from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:07 PM

@OP. How do you know what will occur at this location? NO HOTELS are being green-lighted right now - but somehow you accuse any one who has doubts as "whiners?" So far the people who have been "whiners" from Day 1 are 100% correct. That'd make you 0% correct. You must be a Cubs fan to have such optimism! Also, can 3 hotels "survive" or not? Your post has a very mixed message due to your last sentence. Don't even get me started on the future of condos today. Are you a CRE developer in disguise?

OP  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 7:59 PM

Upscale hotel? Not quite. New hotel- Yes and soon. There is room for the 3 hotels to survive. The prior building was also in the TIF. Any building in a TIF district fall under the TIF. Typical whiners on here about Stankus hole and how long it sat. Development doesn't happen over night. Be patient people and you will be rewarded. The owners of the Wright Inn and the Carelton had ample opportunity to build a brand new hotel but choose not to.

J.oakpark  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 8:30 AM

wait, isn't this project in a current tif district? won't the tax revenue be pulled from the taxing bodies and snuggled away from the outreached hands of the schools and library? does anyone know, for sure if the project is tif or not? please let us all know. thanks

No Chance... from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 7:39 AM

It's interesting that everyone seems to focus on the tax revenue that OP will receive from this development. What happens if the project is unsuccessful? No tax revenue! I've lived in Oak Park all of my life and find it hard to believe that there is a market for an upscale hotel. If it does well, which I highly doubt, what's the opportunity cost? Say goodbye to the Carlton and the Wright Hotel as well as their tax revenues.

wrong design  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:41 PM

Look I am all for a hotel and bringing in more business, but this design is seriously not going to match the area- Does anyone see this? It's basically going to be Oak Brook tower- random eyesore in the middle of no where.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 3:19 PM

Well played, OP! Now tells how long the Stankus Hole "sat" there at Forest and Lake? Imagining is fun but there is an economic reality to this project.

OP  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 1:17 PM

I'm the OP minus the last OP post re Trump towers. Stankus Hole- GONE. 100 Forest Built! I am still sooo excited about this corner. Just sit back close your eyes and imagine away at the possibilities!!! OMG I can not contain myself. REALLY. Can you imagine the TAX revenue that will spill into OP Schools when this is carved out? WoW.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 12:06 PM

OP, you need a history lesson. Donald Trump defaulted on a $40 million payment due to the bank that financed Trump Towers. He's filed for bankruptcy 3 times. Don't believe his hype! Enuf is Enuf is trying to explain what has gone wrong thus far with the Forest/Lake project. Listen and learn. Ask a longtime resident to tell you the story of the Stankus Hole in Oak Park. I know you enjoy hearing fairy tales but it's time to grow up & deal with reality.

OP  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:32 AM

You are so pedestrian Enuf & Epic. If it wasn't for whiners like you, OP could have gotten a 50 or 60 story luxury condo/hotel development. You have no vision. Please plan for the future. Think Trump Towers. Yes We Can!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:13 PM

Leaving the site alone meant not 'as is', but as it pre-existed before the existing buildings were demolished and businesses forced to vacate by the developer and village. The village eliminated this option by allowing demolition to proceed before financing was in place by the developer, an error in the most basic rule in overseeing any development.

epic lulz  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 8:20 PM

The Village Board promised when they first approved this white elephant that if every deadline wasn't met, they would withdraw support. At the time I predicted that that was a lie. Nice of the Board to prove me correct.

OP  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 8:14 PM

Leaving the site alone is ludicrous. Have you seen the picture. New Building with new commercial and NEW hotel. Hello. This parcel will bring in 3X the tax revenue the old one did. Marion street before.....Marion Street after. Case Closed.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 6:50 PM

Actually, this project is about "on what basis shall it be decided to allocate X dollars to Activity A instead of Activity B, or instead of allowing the taxpayer to use the money for his individual purposes?" (Key, V. 0. 1940. The lack of a budgetary theory. American Political Science Review, 34, 1137-1144). Given the uncertainty, risk and benefits associated with this project, was this the best allocation of public resources relative to all other alternatives, including leaving the site alone?

OP  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 6:22 PM

This project is about tax dollars and good development. Good for every tax paying citizen of Oak Park. I am certain that we will see a beautiful building and beautiful grass, trees, and skies. Oh I cant wait! Maybe Mr. David Barsotti would like to apply for the hotel mgr position?

Urban Blight from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 4:37 PM

@Tom Scharre: LOL! I especially like how the building rendering completely dwarfs the lovely church next door! Classy!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 4:26 PM

@Mary Ellen Eads ... it would take more than courage for the village board to back out, it would take $350K, as per terms of the Redevelopment Agreement. When the developer requested a 12-month extension, without providing much confidence of anything ever being built, one would hope the board took this opportunity to re-negotiate their $350K termination penalty. Instead, they gave the extension away in return for use of the vacant site during the interim, for things like piling snow.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 4:24 PM

@Mary Ellen Eads ... it would take more than courage for the village board to back out, it would take $350K, as per terms of the Redevelopment Agreement. When the developer requested a 12-month extension, without providing much confidence of anything ever being built, one would hope the board took this opportunity to re-negotiate their $350K termination penalty. Instead, they gave the extension away in return for use of the vacant site during the interim, for things like piling snow.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 2:30 PM

The "artist rendering" is like developer's porno. Except instead of silicone breasts and collagen-plumped lips, we get sunny blue skies, lush green trees and suspiciously light & perfectly spaced traffic. Even if this pipe dream gets built, I am utterly certain that "reality" will not match "rendering".

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 2:20 PM

I find it extremely difficult to believe that this hotel will ever be built. Unfortunately, it would take considerable courage for the VB to back out now, having supported the project so vigorously. It seems we are stuck.

OP  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 2:00 PM

I would like to THANK the Village Board that voted for this project. It will make OP that much more desirable. It certainly will be better than what was there. Progress means going forward and not sitting idle like everyone wishes. KUDOS for the comments!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 10:12 AM

Trustee Hale claims "its not like we're giving something up that would otherwise be occurring" during the Sertus delay. This is a false dichotomy, as he ignores the opportunity costs of lost property taxes, sales taxes and jobs from the pre-existing demolished buildings and vacated businesses (Original Pancake House, CertifiedLand Grocers, Baskin-Robbins, etc.). He also ignores another vacant property in downtown's gap-toothed streetscape. Confidence melts away with the snow piled on this site.

Tom Smith  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 8:24 AM

It is the start of the project that is a year behind schedule. The completion date is 3 years behind schedule. I so enjoy looking at the empty lot as a memorial to the greed and incompetence at Village Hall.

OP  

Posted: March 15th, 2011 11:13 PM

So excited for this project to get started. The pic is so awesome. The idea of a new hotel in OP is fabulous!! Truly!

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