Mexican restaurant upset over sale

The village is moving to sell a Lake Street property and the restaurant owner inside is upset.

Oak Park announced Friday that it’s selling 1113 Lake St. The village is accepting offers until June 18, and says a sale must close within 60 days of a winning bid.

The village bought the building in 2002 from the Garcia family for $350,000. The family owns Los Cazadores Mexican restaurant, the property’s only tenant.

Bob Clements, acting director of development services, said the village planned to develop the entire block at the time but that the current board has decided such development is no longer needed.

Los Cazadores owner Eddy Garcia alleges that Mike Chen, former director of development services for the village, made promises for the restaurant and pressured his family into the sale.

“Mr. Chin (sic) was a very aggressive and insistent individual when it came to village business,” Garcia read from a prepared statement at Monday’s board meeting. “I may even say that his aggressiveness bordered on the threatening side.”

Garcia said his family can’t afford to offer a competitive bid for the property. He is asking the village to sell it back to the restaurant for the 2001 sales price, minus the $180,000 they’ve paid in rent since then.

Garcia claims he and his family were “misled” and “misinformed,” and “the end result is that a hard-working family business is about to be destroyed.”

Manager Tom Barwin said the village is continuing its philosophy of selling back village-owned property. He said the village has no record of the alleged commitments made by Chen.

Barwin declined to comment on Garcia’s offer.

“We continue to listen and explore options,” he said.

Board green-lights OP/South

The board approved a mixed-use development planned for Oak Park Avenue and South Boulevard.

The glass building includes 42 condominiums and about 2,000 square feet of new retail space. It wraps around two historically deemed buildings on the corner, one a hair salon, the other the former home of Thyme and Honey restaurant.

The developer is marketing the restaurant space and two to three other spaces in older buildings just south of the alley on Oak Park Avenue (one had housed Oak Park Vacuum).

The storefronts are for rent but the company is also considering selling them.

Village trustees urged the developer to confer with local business organizations to find a tenant that would bolster the area.

Regency Development is shooting to sell about 30 percent of the condos before they start construction. Tomasz Litwicki estimated it would take 18 months to hit that mark.

Pumping station historic

The board designated Cicero Fire House No. 2, at 129 Lake St., as a historic landmark Monday.

The building was built in 1898 and is the oldest public building in continuous use in the village.

With the designation, all exterior changes to the building must first be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. The village also hopes to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places.

A cornice that was originally on the front of the building will be reinstalled.

The Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest has tentative plans to move into 129 Lake from its current spot at Pleasant Home.

-Marty Stempniak

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