It appears the main library’s café space will remain empty through this summer.
The Buzz Café vacated that storefront in January after five years, with the shop struggling to turn a profit. The library and West Suburban PADS-a non-profit providing shelter and other homeless services in the Oak Park area-were close to reaching an arrangement for the space earlier this year. But things appear to be in limbo.
PADS originally hoped to move in by May 1, but September seems more realistic, according to library Executive Director Deirdre Brennan. The organization has presented a letter of intent to take over the space, but a number of issues still must be resolved.
A recent village inspection showed the café needs changes made to its sink, floors, walls and kitchen appliances to help bring the space up to code. Brennan is waiting for cost estimates for those changes.
Brennan anticipated the library board would approve an agreement with PADS at its meeting last week. But with certain financial details undecided, they chose to wait.
PADS is proposing the library pay all rehab costs for the store space, and that it receive free rent, Brennan said. The Buzz previously paid about $900 in rent per month. “They obviously have very limited funding, so we’ll do due diligence around what costs will be,” Brennan said.
PADS is applying for private funding for its job training program, said Lynda Schueler, executive director. However, “We’re holding our ground that we’d really appreciate free rent,” she added.
Until the library finds out how much repair work will cost, it’s difficult to say when the library board will vote on the partnership. The space will likely stay empty until September. A temporary tenant can’t use the café because of the plethora of code updates, Schueler noted.
“There’s nothing we could do in the meantime,” Brennan said. “It’s very unfortunate.”