First reported 8/16/2010 9:00 a.m.

For the second time in a little over a year, the sale of a vacant village-owned storefront has fallen through at the last minute.

Oak Park struck a deal back in May to sell the former home of Los Cazadores Mexican Restaurant to an Oak Park couple. Adam and Kimberly Hudelson had planned to purchase 1113 Lake from village hall for $395,000 and transform it into an American-style pub.

The village board approved the contract in May, and the Hudelsons had 60 days to obtain bank financing for the deal. But the couple asked for an extension, and on Friday, they informed village hall that they were unable to line up a loan, said Village Manager Tom Barwin.

“We had a purchase agreement to sell the property, and at the 11th hour, the financing of the acquisition apparently unraveled, as we are told the particular financial institution is reviewing its willingness to finance restaurants,” he said.

Oak Park’s real estate broker, David King, has started actively marketing the building again, and Barwin hopes that he can bring a new purchase agreement to the village board in September.

King said that commercial leasing activity in Oak Park has been healthy this year, with several new stores opening in the village’s downtown. However, banks are still hesitant to give out loans for commercial real estate purchases.

“Banks have become extremely conservative in their commercial real estate lending practices,” King said. “The pendulum is starting to swing back from where it was versus a year ago, where they wouldn’t even talk to you.”

King declined to comment on the particulars of the unsuccessful financing. But the building has remained available during this entire period, and he says he has received more than 30 inquiries about the property, a one-story building just west of Marion. Another buyer also made an offer earlier this year, proposing to turn the building into a Chinese restaurant, and King said he has had conversations with that person.

King believes it’s possible that he could bring a new sales contract to the village board by their first meeting in September.

“We will, big W-I-L-L, sell this building,” he said.

The Hudelsons could not be reached for comment.

In the meantime, Barwin says that Oak Park plans to pull two other village-owned properties – at 1112-1118 Westgate and 2-10 Chicago Ave. – off the market to wait until the economy rebounds.

The village has owned 1113 Lake since 2002, buying it for $350,000 from the former owners of Los Cazadores. The plan was to make it part of a larger development, but that never happened. The property was put on the market in late 2008. A Chicago developer made the highest offer at $540,000 and the restaurant was told to leave. But the deal fell through in early 2009 and the storefront has sat vacant since then.

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

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