A Chicago-based developer unveiled new plans Monday, detailing how the company plans to reinvent a high-profile corner in downtown Oak Park.
Rather than a hotel and condos, Sertus Capital Partners hopes to build a 20-story apartment building, with retail space at the bottom. The project would cost about $90.7 million to complete, according to Sertus, which includes $8.4 million from the Village of Oak Park for 300 spots in a new 588-space garage.
Sertus has struggled to find investors willing to finance the project in recent months because of the struggling hotel and condo markets. But the developer thinks a switch to apartments will make it more appealing to lenders.
“All of these institutions have expressed interest and confidence that this is a very viable project in today’s marketplace,” Michael Glazier, a principal for Sertus, told village trustees at a meeting Monday night.
Village hall and the developer worked for years to reach an agreement to redevelop the northeast corner of Lake and Forest — where the village owns a public parking garage, and Sertus owns the corner lot. Those talks wrapped up last year, but the project has been mired in delays. In June, Glazier announced that they were changing course.
Oak Park pushed hard for a hotel and was willing to pay Sertus about $1.5 million to include one in the building. But that subsidy has been removed with the switch to apartments.
Sertus is in a dispute with the previous architect of the project and is switching to San Francisco-based Gensler, which designed the Block 37 development in downtown Chicago.
Some trustees expressed concerns about the new design and preferences for the previous one.
“I think the retail component has changed quite dramatically, and it’s not for the better,” said Trustee Ray Johnson, later adding, “It’s a concern for me.”
David Barsotti, a neighboring condo owner and vocal opponent of the project, urged trustees to stop supporting Sertus’ plan. One of the developer’s previous efforts — a nine-story condo building in downtown Des Plaines — is in foreclosure, Barsotti said, and the architectural firm, Epstein, has filed a $3.5 million lien against the property, court records show. After the meeting, Glazier declined to comment on those disputes, but he told trustees that the Des Plaines project has been converted to apartments, and is about 32 percent occupied.
“Regardless of how you feel about this project, the developer does not seem to have a proven track record and should not be given any taxpayer subsidies or zoning variances,” Barsotti said. “I ask when you discuss this Thursday, please do not approve this project.”
Village hall plans to post the revised agreement with Sertus on its website, Oak-Park.us, on Tuesday morning. Trustees will meet Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at village hall, 123 Madison, to discuss the new pact, and to refer Sertus’ proposal to the Oak Park Plan Commission for review.