By Anna Lothson
Ownership of the Whiteco building in downtown Oak Park may soon change hands, according to the website of Moran & Company, an apartment investing firm that's listing the property.
Known officially as Oak Park Place, the 14-story, 204-unit luxury apartment building on the market since early May is under contract according to a website posting: http://www.moranandco.com/listings/property.asp?id=881.
The building was constructed after years of intense debate about design, size, funding, and development. The adjacent parking structure, the Holly Court garage, caused its own set of problems for the village and the developer.
The village expanded the garage in 2009, shortly after the apartment building was finished, but it was discovered there were cracks in the concrete. Oak Park paid for the expansion, but Whiteco remained responsible for the repairs and consequent costs due to construction problems.
Although the property may soon have new owners, Whiteco is still responsible for the garage repairs, according to Rob Cole, Oak Park assistant village manager. According to Cole, Whiteco has a formal obligation to make needed repairs, and the company has verbally acknowledged its responsibility to finish the necessary repairs.
The new owners of the property will also have to follow the redevelopment agreement established between Whiteco and the village, which stipulates the apartments remain rental units for 10 years following its opening. Any issues moving forward will be part of larger conversations between the village, Whiteco and any potential new property owner, Cole said.
While the Whiteco building is home to a successful Trader Joe's grocery store, it has gained attention for smaller retail spaces that have sat mostly vacant since the building opened.
A two-year effort to fill one of the spaces with a WeightWatchers franchise was secured in July when the village board voted to allow the business to move into the retail overlay zone. The lease details for the 1,300-square-feet space are being worked through.
After WeightWatchers moves in, there is still one vacant space remaining. The commercial area of the project totals roughly 12,700 square feet.
Clarification: A previous version of this article explained that Whiteco had verbal agreements with the village to make repairs. As noted in the updated version, Whiteco has verbally acknowledged its "formal obligation" to complete those repairs.