Schiess attempts Lake St. project

Deal could allow Lake Theatre expansion

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By DREW CARTER

With three major projects already in the works, the Oak Park Development Group (OPDG) is looking to add a fourth?#34;and high profile?#34;Lake Street project to its drawing board that may enable the Lake Theatre to expand westward.

John Schiess said developer Alex Troyanovsky has an agreement to buy 1038 Lake St., home to Mancini's Pizza and Pasta Cafe and, formerly, Razzle Dazzle. That property is next to the Bank One Annex building, which Troyanovsky already owns.

Schiess serves as architect for Troyanovsky's OPDG, and as a shepherd for leading projects through the planned development process.

Schiess said he has talked with the Sideras family, owners of the building housing Maple Tree Restaurant, and hopes the family will sell to his company. The Maple Tree building would be the only building left between Bank One and the Lake Theatre.

Schiess isn't the first to try to assemble those properties. Classic Cinemas President Willis Johnson, owner of the Lake Theatre, has tried for years to get the Siderases to sell.

"The Siderases are certainly sitting right there in the middle," Johnson said.

Jim Sideras, one of the owners of the building, could not be reached for comment. But Gus Kostopulos, a former Oak Park village trustee whose architecture practice is within the Maple Tree building, said the Sideras family has turned down attractive offers because they haven't found another suitable building to purchase to avoid capital gains taxes on the sale of 1038 Lake St.

"Their whole thing is, We can sell it, but where do we put the money?" Kostopulos said.

Johnson and Schiess have talked about a joint venture that would involve the development company and a Lake Theatre expansion, but Johnson isn't confident Schiess will succeed in acquiring 1038 Lake St.

Johnson had planned a vertical expansion of the Lake, a more expensive proposition than expanding horizontally. He has not abandoned those plans.

OPDG has assembled properties for development near the corners of Oak Park Avenue and South Boulevard and at Oak Park and Madison Street, and is moving ahead with developing the Bank One lot.

CONTACT: dcarter@wjinc.com

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