Taxman deal may get extended yet again

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Following a closed-session meeting Tuesday night, the Oak Park village board has scheduled a special meeting Thursday to vote on whether to extend the deadline of its put-call agreement with Taxman Corp.

At a meeting in May, corporation owner Sy Taxman told board members that if they did not agree by the end of June to work with the company on a redevelopment plan for the parcel occupied by the Colt building, 1138-1146 Westgate, he would exercise the "put" clause of the 2001 agreement. This would mean that the village would be required to buy the property for $5 million.

The agenda item calls for a vote on, specifically, a "proposed extension of the put-call agreement related to the acquisition of property." Village President David Pope said Tuesday morning that he could not elaborate on the executive session discussion.

"Due to the dynamics at work in the meeting, I can't say anything right now," Pope said. He did add, however, that Taxman's comments last month "may give some clues as to what some of [the next] steps might be," if the board approves the extension.

Tim Hague, president of Taxman Corp., could not be reached for comment before press time Tuesday.

The meeting is currently set for 7 p.m. tomorrow night at Village Hall, 123 Madison St.

Whiteco hires a new architect

Whiteco Residential has hired a new architecture firm to complete construction drawings for its mixed-use project at Harlem Avenue and Ontario Street. Company President Tim Connelly said Tuesday that, despite the change, the project will remain in "substantial conformity" with the design presented to the Plan Commission earlier this year.

"For the next phase of the project, we've elected to go with another firm," Connelly said. "Obviously, the architect will complete the project in substantial conformity with the planned development, including the [Plan Commission's] recommended enhancements."

As long as the project ultimately reflects the design?#34;in proportions, materials, and other details?#34;presented to the commission, Whiteco will not need to come before the village for a second review, Village Planner Craig Failor said Tuesday.

Whiteco had worked with Chicago-based Perkins & Will, including firm principal and Oak Park resident Mark Jolicoeur, on the project for over a year and a half. Connelly said the company decided later to hold a competitive bidding process for the next phase of the design process.

"Perkins & Will has provided excellent service. We're thankful for their creativity and energy," he said.

When asked if the change was made due to cost concerns, Connelly said only that price is "obviously an important factor" taken into account during a competitive bidding process.

Because Perkins & Will had already drafted plans for expansion of the Holley Court Garage, Connelly said that construction work will not be delayed.

"We're very excited about the project. We look forward to starting construction," he said.

?#34;Katharine Grayson

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