A Harrison Street property owner is asking the village to vacate part of an Oak Park alley to help him open a new restaurant in the Oak Park Arts District.
Chris Kleronomos applied in May, asking the Village of Oak Park to vacate a section of a north-south alley sandwiched between two buildings he owns – one currently home to Briejo Restaurant (211 Harrison), the other a long-empty building at 213-215 Harrison.
According to the village, Kleronomos wants to buy a 60-foot stretch of alley, spanning from Harrison Street to the back of his properties. The land would be used to create a promenade and outdoor seating for Briejo and an unnamed new restaurant.
In an interview in May, Kleronomos said he hoped to divide the 6,500-square-foot, one-story building into three storefronts in an effort to bring in multiple tenants. The promenade would feature entrances to two or three other retailers, residing in the back of the building.
The village board referred Kleronomos’ request to the Oak Park Plan Commission last week. The commission will hold a public hearing on the application, likely in January, said Village Planner Craig Failor.
Kleronomos first applied for the alley vacation in May, but the village waited until he fixed the property to consider his request.
The Village of Oak Park sued Kleronomos in the Circuit Court of Cook County last year, demanding that he either demolish or repair 213-215 Harrison. The lawsuit alleged that the building was vacant for more than 10 years, structurally unsound, had a leaky roof and was in danger of collapsing. He denied the long-term vacancy and structural unsoundness of the building in a February interview with Wednesday Journal.
A judge dismissed the complaint in May, after Kleronomos repaired the roof.
Old-timers will remember that the vacant building housed the original Pan’s Food Center for several decades.
Kleronomos originally applied to take control of 125 feet of the alley. But Laura Maychruk, owner of the Buzz Café and other properties to the west, objected as it would impede deliveries and garbage trucks, according to the village.
If Oak Park eventually agrees to the alley vacation, the village would have its property appraised (at Kleronomos’ cost) and then sell it to him.
A call to Kleronomos last week was not returned by Tuesday morning.