I urge the River Forest village board to appoint Granite Realty Partners as the developer for the Lake and Lathrop project.
Given the rubber stamp for Granite to subdivide 400 Ashland into an apartment and offices by the Development Review Board, it is obvious the board will approve that on May 27.
Since the village of River Forest government has such high regard for Granite, it is obvious that only Granite can develop this site. The current developer, Keystone Ventures, has been unable to develop the site after lengthy attempts.
New Village President Cathy Adduci wrote in Wednesday Journal on April 12 that she plans on addressing Lake and Lathrop. The prior board expressed the same view. There is no way to move this project forward except to appoint Granite as the developer.
The alternative is to have River Forest turn its TIF money over to local schools. The local schools do not need the money. They are excellent schools financed by local taxes with good teachers and iPads for every child. TIF funds would create a rainy day fund suitable for floating Noah's ark. We already have that at OPRF High School.
While Keystone has done some development work, I am sure they would turn it over to Granite for remuneration. Keystone was not backed by the village's power of eminent domain in dealing with merchants as Granite would be.
I have reviewed the Keystone plans and they seem viable except that Granite would want to build luxury condos. Any obstacles in the Zoning Ordinance could be removed for Granite. In the 400 Ashland permit, the board allowed on-site parking spaces to be in an off-site parking lot.
As to the issue of toxic waste on the Lake and Lathrop site, that could be dealt with quickly by Granite and the village of River Forest's combined resources. Granite has developed several sites in River Forest and is a $200,000,000 developer, per their website. The toxic waste that mysteriously appeared under River Forest Cleaners and spread could be extracted to EPA standards before construction starts in a few months.
Granite could get ready financing for construction as it has an excellent credit rating and track record for building condos and the economy is getting better for housing. Granite would not be caught in delay on financing as the Oak Park apartment rental project has been [Forest and Lake].
The village board must move fast on this matter.
Roger L. Sugg
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