First reported 6/24/2010 3:32 p.m.

With a deadline looming in July, a developer is getting ready to bulldoze a long-vacant building in downtown Oak Park.

In March, Chicago-based Sertus Capital Partners got the go-ahead from the Village of Oak Park to build a 20-story complex at the corner of Lake and Forest. The developer owns the one-story building at the corner and, as part of the approval, Sertus is required to raze the structure by July 15.

The developer’s contractor has already started prepping for the demolition, shutting off gas at the property recently and water and sewer connections last week. All utilities need to be inoperative before Sertus can get a demolition permit from the county and village, according to Jim Prescott, a spokesman for the developer.

Barring any setbacks, they hope to start ripping the building down right after July 4. Sertus has the option of either putting up a surface parking lot or a grassy area in place of the building. The developer has chosen to plant grass, said Craig Failor, village planner.

Sertus next must apply for building permits from the village by Dec. 15, or approval for the project can be voided. Construction must start by Sept. 15, 2011.

Prescott said Sertus is still working to obtain financing in order to build the $85 million project. It’s slated to include a 140-room hotel, 85 condos, retail space and a 510-space parking garage. The village is partnering with Sertus to replace the public parking garage that’s now at the corner, which won’t be torn down until the developer is ready to build.

“It’s a tough market right now, but we’ve taken a prudent and patient approach to this opportunity from day one, and there’s no need to change that strategy at this point,” Prescott said. “It’s a good project; we still firmly believe it’s a good project, and we’re taking it one step at a time.”

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