A recent study could decide if downtown Oak Park will get a hotel and if the village should subsidize it.

Village officials and a Chicago-based developer are working behind the scenes to determine what’s built at the corner of Lake and Forest in Oak Park. The village owns a parking garage there, while Sertus Capital Partners owns the one-story building that once housed the Original Pancake House and Certifiedland foods.

Oak Park may team up with Sertus to replace the aging garage, while the developer considers adding a hotel to the project rather than building a condo-oriented development. Officials have pushed for a downtown hotel. Sertus and the village are splitting the costs of a study to determine if Oak Park could support one.

“The study is trying to identify who would use a hotel on a day-to-day basis,” said Bob Clements, Oak Park’s redevelopment manager.

In an interview last week with Wednesday Journal’s editorial board, Michael Glazier, principal of Sertus, said the study will also help find out if the Village of Oak Park would need to contribute to the project to make a hotel happen.

Glazier said a hotel needs an average occupancy rate of at least 65 percent to be successful. This analysis will help determine the demand for a hotel in Oak Park and the types of amenities-restaurants, conference rooms-it could support.

As outlined in a non-binding agreement with Sertus last June, the village may contribute to a hotel if it isn’t making enough money. That subsidy could come in the form of a land discount, a rebate on hotel taxes, or TIF financing.

“The full out Hail Mary is to issue a bond if they think it’s worthwhile,” Glazier said.

Both sides received a draft of the study last week, but both declined to reveal the results. The village board needs to see a finalized version of the study before it is made public, Clements said.

Sertus and Oak Park split the costs for the study, which Clements said cost “much, much” less than $25,000. Oak Park had another less detailed hotel study done in 2007 by the same consultant, TR Mandigo, which determined that Oak Park has “ample” demand for an upscale hotel.

The two parties are working now on a redevelopment agreement, which is legally binding and lays out the parameters of the development and any village financial obligations. The project would then go to the Oak Park Plan Commission for consideration, said Village Planner Craig Failor.

Glazier believes that agreement is still weeks away, but hopes to reach it by the holidays. The soured economy likely has pushed back the construction date of any building whether a hotel or a condo project. Sertus has two offers to demolish the corner building, but will likely wait until after the holidays to do so.

“It’s not going to make the environment of downtown any better to have an empty lot there,” Glazier said. “Unless it becomes a real nuisance to the community, we’re not going to pull it down too quickly.”

Sertus is also working on a design of the building. Glazier, whose firm puts a strong emphasis on architectural excellence, said they have a very rough drawing, but declined to make it public. Failor said the village has received some “massing studies” of the building, which show its shape and makeup. Glazier could not say how tall the building might be though he said the village has encouraged a “contemporary” building design.

The non-binding agreement in June laid out two different possibilities for the building: One includes about 30,000 square feet of retail, 46,000 of office space, 70 apartments, 70 condos and 554 parking spaces. The other option includes only 70 residential units, a 140-room hotel, and 530 total parking spots. Both choices include 300 public parking spaces.

More from Michael Glazier

On the Colt building: “I think it’s overstated, the significance of it historically. The building doesn’t have a good adaptive reuse.”

On the village and Sertus partnering:

“It isn’t necessarily a marriage of convenience; it’s better than that.”

On delays to the Lake and Forest project die to past Oak Park development controversies:

“We’re very strongly paying for the sins of those before us.”

On costs of holding the building at Lake and Forest:

“We have a small hole being burnt in our pocket.”

On early pressures to preserve the current building:

“I felt like we were being railroaded because they hadn’t done the research I did.”

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