Lake Street apartment building sells for $3.97M

Mayor says adjacent property of interest to developers

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park's downtown area could soon get more upgraded apartments with the sale of the six-story apartment building, known to some as the Oak Hotel, at 855 Lake St. The building sold for $3.97 million in May, but it's unclear what comes next.

Chicago-based Icon Clark LLC was listed as the purchaser, but Nadeya Khalil, who is listed as the agent for Icon, did not return phone calls requesting an interview. The seller was identified as Chicago Title Land Trust Co. The building stands next to Unity Temple and across Lake Street from the main library and Scoville Park.

Perhaps more interesting than the sale of the approximately 60-unit building, though, is what might happen to the adjacent property to the east, which currently serves as a U.S. Bank drive-thru and a parking lot. 

Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said in an interview that developers have inquired about the bank branch property at 835 Lake St., which he described as underutilized. But he does not believe there is any connection to the recent sale of the apartment building. 

"Over the years multiple people have looked (at the bank site)," said Abu-Taleb. "They are aware it is an excellent location" near public transit, shopping and restaurants, he said. 

In terms of the apartment building sale, he said, "It's a private transaction that took place between a willing seller and an interested buyer."

He noted the village netted about $32,000 in property transfer taxes in the sale. "We're happy to accept the transfer tax and wish them the best of luck," Abu-Taleb said.

The purchase of the apartment building, which once served as a hotel, could mean more upscale apartments downtown. Abu-Taleb said he believes that if someone invests almost $4 million in a building, they're likely to improve it. 

Oak Park Economic Development Corporation Executive Director John Lynch did not return calls requesting an interview. 

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Jack Lesniak from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2018 4:50 PM

There is a consistent rumour that the "Shed" at the back of the property is a concession stand from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition that was held on Chicago's waterfront. An effort should be made to research its provenance and if secured , protect one of the few remaining structures from the Exposition. Oak Park Historic Society? Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission? FLLW Trust? What say you?

Galen Gockel  

Posted: June 21st, 2018 5:11 PM

18 stories there? Given the present composition of the village board, that's possible. Someone should alert the Alphawood Foundation who bankrolled the renovation of Unity Temple next door. It's investment would be compromised by demolition and rebuilding at this site. US Bank next door might be a willing seller, as it already has plenty of exposure in OP.

Al Rossell  

Posted: June 21st, 2018 4:56 PM

Apartments are small, would most likely be very costly to renovate particularly when you consider that the land mass is slightly larger than the project being built on the northwest corner of Lake and Forest. I smell a new development in the works but with Unity Temple next door i doubt you will see another 18 story building. Looked at this to buy years ago but Len Stann outbid me. Building then needed a lot of work and Mr. Fireball or one of his occupants raised pigeons in a shack on the roof, Maybe they were homing pigeons. At that time there were a few unsavory appearing occupants. Lots of potential with this property, whether rehabbed, re-purposed or a new build. Good luck to the new buyer.

Jahred Adelman  

Posted: June 21st, 2018 8:27 AM

Thanks, Christine! Interesting (if slightly scary, even in retrospect) stories!

Christine Vernon  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 10:52 PM

Jahred Adelman - Re - Background on this building....In the early 1970's, I was asked by my neighbor on Forest Avenue, Sara Stann to go to work for her and Len when they purchased the building called The Oak Hotel at 855 Lake Street together with Sara's male cousin from Rockford as an investment. It was owned by a man called "Fireball" who was a whole story unto himself. You would have to ask some realtor who has been here a long time, someone like Al Rossell might now more about him. "Fireball" also owned the private home that became the Onischuk's B & B "Under the Ginkgo Tree". I believe that the Stanns and Sara's cousin looked at this building as a long-term investment. In the short time I worked for them, there were a few nice residents who were obviously living on fixed incomes and there were some really sketchy residents as well. With the library across the street and everything you might need nearby, except that Certifiedland grocery store two blocks away is gone now, an older person could get along pretty well living in a dorm sized place. One day, doing some jobs I was assigned around the building, I got on the elevator. It stopped at another floor and a guy who must have fancied himself as some self-appointed bouncer got on with a gun drawn in his hand. My head literally started pounding and didn't stop for some time after I got off safely at the first floor.I didn't stay at that job after that experience. Few improvements were made in the time I worked there. The place never had very many residents. I have no knowledge of anything that went on there after I left but it always seemed to maintain that same questionable reputation and status. Now, though, the truth of it is, as Ada Tikkanen, says what a great place it could be if developed perfectly for able-bodied seniors with some common areas. How about adding a pool somewhere on the property to the back where the Gazebo from the World's Fair was? That place always had amazing potential!

Jahred Adelman  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 3:01 PM

Oh, I didn't mean the past as anything except for "that is all I found about the building." And yes, it has character, but if owners have a hard time filling it and it stays largely empty, tear it down. Unless there is interesting history there. But I guess there isn't :) So all the more reason to do something with it as a downtown property

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 2:09 PM

it's a cool looking building. And in this day and age of cost-cutting choices in the building industry I would hope we'd like to save a bit of character.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 1:59 PM

what on god's green earth does the fact that the building tenants in the past have anything to do with what this building can be in the future. And as some one has adroitly pointed out, since when does anywhere have affordable housing in the smack dab center of prime real estate. I'm looking for places to retire right now. I don't get to be right on the beach.

Jahred Adelman  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 12:51 PM

Right - I saw previous information on this building being a problem. But why shouldn't it be torn down or gutted if it can't be used? There are potentially good reasons why not to do this, but ... where are they? What is the history?

Steve Kelley  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 11:49 AM

Steve Bankes, this is a contributing structure to the historic district and has some protection. However with the current pro-development administration anything could happen.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 11:42 AM

I like this building but I don't like what it has become and would like to see it rehabbed, perhaps with some affordable housing. Does anyone know if it can torn down, or is it considered a historic structure?

Tom Gull  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 11:13 AM

Scoville Manor cited here: https://scovillemanor.wordpress.com/

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 10:43 AM

This building has been a problem for some time. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-15-2011/What's-wrong-at-855-Lake%3F/

Jahred Adelman  

Posted: June 20th, 2018 6:56 AM

Is there any history to this building? Was it actually a hotel? What does it look like inside? (I can't find much information online about whether it makes sense to keep it or not)

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: June 19th, 2018 11:02 PM

If that building comes down it will prove the Village powers that be have legitimately sold their souls. This is their opportunity to get something right...for a change.

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