By Dan Haley
An enthusiastic Anan Abu-Taleb announced late Friday that developers had inked a contract with PNC Bank to buy the debt tied to a first mortgage on the property at Lake and Forest where a long-planned retail, apartment and parking garage had been stalled.
The contract with the bank was signed this week by Golub and Company and Wood Partners, the two lead developers now heading the project. It is a significant hurdle in the long delayed plan for the high visibility corner in Downtown Oak Park.
Still ahead are negotiations with two remaining lien holders on the project, an architect who had worked on early version of the project and John Vlahos, the previous owner of the site. Jim Prescott, a spokesperson for the developer, was optimistic that obstacle can be resolved. "We are now at a point where this project has gained momentum. It is in everyone's best interest to see this move ahead."
Calling the agreement with PNC "a wonderful thing for the village" President Abu-Taleb said he expected representatives of Golub and Wood Partners, the co-developers, to come before the village board in early May to seek a short extension of the current Redevelopment Agreement. Assuming such an extension is OKd, construction on the 21-story glass and steel project could begin by late summer, according to Prescott.
"This is a turning point for the village. It will bring more momentum for our local development," Abu-Taleb said.
The project dates back to 2007 and has long been stalled by a range of challenges.
In its first incarnation, and under strong suggestion from the village, the initial developer sought financing to build a hotel and condo project. When the national economy tanked that plan was replaced by an apartment concept. But that developer, Sertus Capital Partners, was still unable to arrange financing for the project.
Last fall with a village board project extension running out, Michael Glazier, the principal in the first development group returned to work for Golub and Company, a much larger development company and he brought the stymied Lake and Forest project with him. Since then Golub has reported success in obtaining financing but was in lengthy negotiations with PNC Bank over paying off the first mortgage on the property. That deal came together late this week.
The mixed use building will have 270 apartment units, ground level retail and 588 spaces in a parking garage. The village, which currently operates a poorly maintained parking structure which wraps two sides of the parcel, will partner with the developers to build new parking as part of the project.