After two extensions, Taxman wants to know what's next for Colt building

The future of the Colt Building will also help determine any future path for Station Street, above.

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By KATHARINE GRAYSON

Though the deadline on a put-call agreement between the Taxman Corporation and the village regarding the Colt building in Downtown Oak Park has already been twice extended, the developer is now asking the village board to address the future of the Westgate Avenue/Lake Street parcel by the end of June.

The agreement, signed several years ago, requires that the village accept a redevelopment proposal for the site from Taxman, or purchase the building for $5 million. The most recent deadline placed on that agreement is June 30.

The developer will meet with the village board on Thursday to discuss what should be next for the classic Art Deco building, 1138-1146 Westgate Ave., which houses multiple retailers and  office space. The building has entrances on both Lake Street and Westgate.

Tim Hague, president of Taxman, said this week that the company has held off on pushing for a board decision on the building while a master plan for downtown was being crafted, and trustees were debating whether to extend the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district.

The Colt building would have to be demolished to make way for the downtown plan's proposed "Station Street." That proposal has, however, proven controversial over the last several months, and is expected to be reviewed further by the historic preservation community.

Hague said he won't be presenting a specific redevelopment proposal to the board this week, but is rather looking to have a conversation with trustees about their ideas for the area.

"We're trying to get an understanding of what direction the village wants to take economic development in Oak Park. They asked us to have some dialogue on the agreement and share some ideas," he said.

He said Taxman is also open to reaching a compromise with the board on redevelopment of the site.

"Various viewpoints certainly offer some ideas. The Crandall Arambula plan offers some ideas, historic preservation has some ideas, and the newly elected officials have some ideas," he added. "It's going to be a product that comes more from dialogue, rather than any particular interest's vision."

Taxman also owns an office building at 1145 Westgate Ave., a site near to its Shops of Downtown Oak Park development, and opposite a stretch of village-owned properties.

The board will discuss the agreement with Taxman at a study session at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Village Hall, 123 Madison St.

CONTACT: kgrayson@wjinc.com

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