Village board to decide Monday on change for Oak Park hotel

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Click here to read our updated story - Hotel idea checks out of downtown Oak Park - Plan commission will take another crack at developer's proposal - June 28, 2011

A 20-story hotel and condo tower planned for downtown Oak Park could end up being neither, depending on what happens Monday.

As first reported by Wednesday Journal last month, a Chicago-based developer looking to team with the village to build a hotel and garage complex at the corner of Lake and Forest wants to shift gears, because of the sour economy. Instead, Sertus Capital Partners would rather build rental units for seniors, along with high-end apartments.

The original plan for the project was approved by the village last year, and it would require an OK from trustees to change the makeup of the development. The board is slated to discuss the request on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at village hall, 123 Madison.

Originally, the project was to include 140 hotel rooms, 85 condos, and a 510-space parking garage. But the requested change would include 264 apartments (a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units), along with 330 parking spots for the development. Sertus wants to keep the 300 public parking spots that were originally proposed the same, which would give the garage a total of 630 spaces.

Oak Park has pushed hard for a hotel in its downtown, and was willing to kick in $500,000 to make it happen, but that incentive is deleted from the amended agreement.

"Due to the continuing and overwhelmingly adverse economic conditions in the hospitality market, specifically, and the lingering problems in the credit markets, generally, we have been unable to secure any committed interest for the hotel segment of the project," Michael Glazier, principal for Sertus, wrote to the village on May 3.

Click here to see the entire agenda.


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Posted: July 5th, 2011 9:48 PM

How about a 20 story motel that rents by the hour? Oh wait, this building isn't on Madison.

Reggid from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2011 6:11 PM

The glorious luxury condo and hotel project is collapsing? Who could have predicted this? Geez, what a shock. Oh, wait, no it's not -- just go back and read all of the resident comments when this bland, out-character monstrosity was proposed and then approved.


Posted: July 4th, 2011 6:00 PM

Stale argument. Didnt ring true then...doesnt ring true today. Build it!

OP Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2011 3:16 PM

David Pope and many on the Board say that they do not want to dole out money to developers, but is not that what they did last Monday? It seems that Pope and the Board continue to put their personal agendas ahead of what is best for Oak Park. Last Monday it became obvious to this writer that Pope and the Board are determined to build a 20-story folic symbol to their legacies at the doorsteps of the FLW Historic District, regardless the cost to the Oak Park taxpayer.


Posted: July 1st, 2011 5:29 PM

Low rents= Rif Raf

Maggie from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2011 3:13 PM

Since they are not building the hotel, I say "Cheers". Now, if they could lower the height of the building and change the architecture to prairie style, I feel it would be much more successful. How can the Village of OP allow such a bland piece of architecture to be built? A 49 year resident.

Who's In Charge Here from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2011 1:18 PM

Does anyone know what happened last night? I thought the hotel room fees were supposed to reimburse the developers instead of tax rebates - if there is no hotel, are they getting the tax revenue instead?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 9:11 PM

Pope's reference to the 2002 Condition Assessment Report by Desman Assoc. was biased towards his decision to teardown the L/F Garage. What Pope failed to mention was that the report cited lack of protective treatments by the village, resulting in premature deterioration. As such, Desman preferred the village to repair the garage to safeguard against further deterioration for 10-15 years. Instead, the village chose minimal repair, extending the life only 5-10 years, until eventual demolition.


Posted: June 27th, 2011 5:38 PM

What about the transfer fee when the land/building were purchased? De Jordy, Traders Joes is no more than 2 blocks and has better prices, wine, beer, but doesn't deliver. Madness, pure madness I tell ya.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 5:19 PM

Sertus has successfully appealed the assessed value of this site for the past 3 years, due to total vacancy of site. The assessed value has been reduced from $175,476 in 2008 to $48,898 in 2010. As a result, the village has lost over $200,000 in property tax revenue. Also, sale taxes have been totally lost from the 7 businesses that have been vacated since early 2008. Sertus needs to compensate the village for loss tax revenue in seeking any further delay for this project.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 12:24 PM

DeJordy, don't get involved in any type of discussion with OP. This character posts using a variety of different screen names but the message is always the same. No one is permitted to disagree with a Village policy or question a board decision. There are a number of people who post offering thoughtful comments and valuable information. OP is not one of them.


Posted: June 27th, 2011 12:14 PM

Overpriced? Many of its items were cheaper than Dominick's and Jewel, especially produce and meats. And they had a complete selection.Plus they had beer and wine. Now I have to get in the car anytime I need anything.


Posted: June 27th, 2011 10:24 AM

......that was overpriced. There's plenty of available retail space if you or the owners want to open up.


Posted: June 27th, 2011 10:16 AM

Meanwhile, we still no longer have a full-service grocery store that we can walk to, and that even delivered, which was convenient for seniors. Thanks, Village Board.


Posted: June 26th, 2011 10:23 PM

Most of the projections were for a 20 yr period or so. At least in terms of the incentives the Village provided the developer and the break even point. Being informed abut how yesterdays dollar was spent doesnt help tomorrows budget. Different time and day.


Posted: June 26th, 2011 10:18 PM

Madison TIF money has no bearing on DTOP TIF money. Each project(s) are different and unique. If money was not so wisely invested in one, how does that effect the other? People elect officials to make the big decisions. Are you trying to figure out who you will or will not vote for in 2013? Whatever you do, DO NOT VOTE FOR MILSTEIN. Your main concern should be ROI in terms of your quality of life in Oak Park. Whats your opinion of the Whiteco project?

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 9:08 PM

Jim thanks for the heads up. I would say this, Marty's link above does take you to the Board's Agenda for Monday, which is helpful. On this agenda it has Sertus' letter. After reading it, I realized that my earlier post is not accurate. I posted that the Village will most likely remove a 22% land reimbursement to the developer. More accurately, this item will be discussed. Sertus has requested that this reimbursement remain to make the project financially feasible. So, we will see.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 8:47 PM

Craig, that's a brick wall you're dealing with when it comes to OP or any of the other dubs being used by this character. There are so many, I've lost count. What you are asking for seems very reasonable and has been mentioned in the past by John Murtagh. The idea that the info is provided on some sort of "need to know" basis is insulting. Citizens are too often told to file a FOIA request in order to learn how our tax dollars are being spent and if we are getting the best bang for our buck.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 4:30 PM

It would help to know if our tax dollars that have been committed to big projects are producing the promised estimated tax benefit. It would be helpful to taxpayers so they would be 1)informed 2)could assess how tax dollars are being used. I want to know because the Village is considering committing TIF dollars to improve the Madison Corridor by year end. I think I am behind this idea, but I would prefer to be informed and not follow blindly.


Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:59 PM

How would that help you or the Voters? There are no maps that show the ship on the bottom of the ocean floor.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:52 PM

@OP - I have to chuckle that you are happy that the majority of voters don't read these posts, but you post very frequently. I am not a naysayer, but I asked you about Whiteco to make a point. I am not sure how this development is doing economically. Wouldn't it be nice if the taxpayers could see the projections of revenue that were made before the developement was built and see if they hit the mark?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:41 PM

Jim ... I agree that Pope is only one vote, but he has the support of downtown interests, and his personal assistant, Tom Barwin, who believes he works for Pope, and not the village board. Unfortunately, a majority of village board trustees in the past have acquiesced to Pope' inept lead , which has led to some embarrassing decisions, resulting in squandered public funds and lawsuits. I was simply urging the trustees to provide independent due diligence, and not to defer to Pope and Barwin.


Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:23 PM

Blame. The keyword. All you naysayers just want to BLAME someone. Does it make you feel better about who you are when you wake up in the am? Pure childish behavior. Thank God the majority of the voters of Oak Park dont read any of this garbage. Lake and Forest will be just fine. I have confidence( yes confidence) in this Village and good things can and will happen. Maybe someday we will have a new hotel.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:19 PM

Enuf, President Pope should not be the only one blamed for this troubled project. He has a single vote in the decision making process. Spread it around to every trustee and Village staff person, including Manager Barwin. There has been a lack accountability at Village Hall for too many years.


Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:18 PM

I dont know the exact number. I'm sure one could find out. What I do know is that its mostly occupied and the units are very nicely done inside. The rent is not cheap and the building is contributing more tax dollars than the parking lot that was there for 30 yrs?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 10:53 AM

Once again, David Pope has meddled in downtown development with his personal agenda, resulting in loss of tax dollars. He insisted, against the wishes of Sertus, to include a hotel in this project. According to Sertus, the inclusion of the hotel is the primary reason for not attracting project financing. In the meantime, the site remains fallow, with reduced property and no sales tax yield. Village board needs to stop following Pope's inept leadership, and return to fiscal stewardship.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 9:51 AM

OP - do you happen to know how much tax revenue the Whiteco buiding is bringing in?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 11:55 PM

Village President Pope said the planned hotel was a "Win-Win" for Oak Park. Is that still the outcome we can expect if the project is changed to an aprtment building? I would rather Seruts be handed their walking papers in light of the misleading and false statement about Oak Park made by their partner,Silver/Young. Their website describes DTOP as "blighted".


Posted: June 25th, 2011 11:42 PM

I'm familiar with people that live there. Their rents are going up. What else can i say. Just look at the brochure at the front lobby and it shows the rents. It aint cheap. Outside of Holley Court or Belmont Villages, what other building has higher rents?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 10:55 PM



Posted: June 25th, 2011 10:04 PM

Whiteco raising or lowering the rents has no bearing on the Tax collected. Whiteco is raising their rents. Its not cheap to live their. Probably Oak Parks highest rents. Its bringing Oak Park much needed tax revenue.

Facebook Verified  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 10:02 PM

Why dont we build a prison? Good steady tax dollars

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 10:01 PM

According to board members, the occupancy rate is much higher than 50%. That really isn't the issue though. If Whitco had to lower its rent to attract renters, than Whitco lost money, and the village lost tax revenues. The question has been asked many times, but no real numbers have been produced on the Whitco Development.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 9:57 PM

Yes it was, but the seniors we were talking about were not high rollers. They were the low income variety.

School Teacher from OP  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 9:47 PM

We've seen this over and over; why can't we learn? The only developers who come to OP are condo developers. They can't lease retail because of the high property taxes. If the condo developers pre-sale 50% or so of their units, they sign an agreement with OP. If they don't pre-sale enough, they bow out. South Blvd and Harlem is prime example. I say wait until the economy improves, then bring in a retail developer. We've got 500 empty condos, many empty apartments, and another housing unit is not what the market demands. Isn't Whiteco, for example, still half empty?


Posted: June 25th, 2011 9:11 PM

Wasnt it murtagh that kept saying the biggest demand for housing was seniors?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 8:55 PM

The premise of the proposal is that there are more than 200 seniors ready to move into a high rent apartment because they cannot handle increased taxation on their homes that have declined sharply over the last two years. Why would a senior home owner choose to move into a apartment and risk rent increase when the can purchase an OP Condo which enables them to maintain equity and have some level of control over future rent?

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 7:46 PM

Sometimes I really think people at the Village have no idea what's happening beyond their office doors. If I recall correctly, there was a call to rush demolishing of the existing parking lot last year to make way for the new hotel. At that time, the economy was still in the dumps and it would have been foolish to have done that. If anything, add a second machine to take money. People are lining up after the movies let out.


Posted: June 25th, 2011 6:57 PM

It kinda hard to build something new on top of something old.

doc walsh from wooddale  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 4:02 PM

why did they demolish so quickly and lose tax dollars another bad move for oak park board

O P Rez  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 3:28 PM

Agreed. Mr Barsotti thinks it has a much longer life. Thats what I gathered from previous posts of his. I dont want to speak for him. Tear it down and build a new.


Posted: June 25th, 2011 3:10 PM

OP REZ - The current parking garage is a dump! Should be torn down and rebuilt.

O P Rez  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 3:05 PM

Mr Barsotti will still want to know why we cant use the original parking structure. Its just not ready to be torn down.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park   

Posted: June 25th, 2011 9:20 AM

@OP resident, and other residents. There is an active link in the article that takes you to the agenda for Monday. It seems that once the RDA is amended, a plan commission process will again take place. The amendments to the RDA are included. If you read the RDA amendments, one positive is that the Village will remove a subsidy of reibursable costs to the developer.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 9:07 AM

@ OP Resident: The VOP Board can change the Redevelopment Agreement (RDA). On Monday, we will consider the request by Sertus Capital for the noted amendments to the RDA. Related to this, is the Planned Development Ordinance, which can be within the domain of the Plan Commission. I'm not sure how you jumped to the conclusion we would intentionally violate the law, but speaking for myself, if we do move forward with agreeing to a change in the RDA, a PC referral should also happen.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 6:24 AM

The Oak Park Village Board CANNOT approve a change in the project of this magnitude without sending entire project back to the Plan Commission. The Village Board may think they can approve the change without going through the Plan Commission, but then they would be violating the law.

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