While we've all been staring with communal angst at the vacant corner of Lake and Forest with its alternating crabgrass/snow piles and the decrepit parking garage, another story was unfolding across the street on the northwest corner of this prime intersection.
There a four-story, white brick retail and office building has been slowly emptying out. One tenant after the next decamped as leases expired and the building's future leaked away. It is a complicated story about land leases and building ownership. In its current form, it was not going to have a happy ending.
Until now. Last Friday we reported that both the 1000 Lake Street building and its companion, 1010 Lake, had been sold for a combined $6.9 million to UrbanStreet Group, LLC, a respected real estate firm based in Chicago and heavy in a range of commercial and residential projects in both Chicago and St. Louis.
The immediate consensus is that the corner building, the one-time Lytton's department store, built just 55 years ago, is destined for demolition. And that's OK by us. A bland stump at the entry to Downtown Oak Park, this corner, which includes an unused surface parking lot, can be notably improved as a multi-story, mixed-use project. And Urban Street seems fully capable of making that happen over time.
Next door, the 1010 Lake building — at the half-century mark still Oak Park's newest office building — is likely to remain in place but will benefit for a much needed upgrade. With two floors empty, there is considerable upside for the former IBM Building to be improved.
Opportunity keeps knocking in Oak Park with respected developers seeking their parcels — and in this case, paying a good price for their point of entry.