Lake and Forest as it was Tuesday afternoonGraham Johnston/Staff

A report Monday about the parking structure underneath Oak Park’s soon-to-be-tallest building revealed the plan for the 20-story high-rise at the corner of Forest and Lake in downtown Oak Park still has legs.

The design development for the building, encompassing rental units and retail space at the bottom, is expected to be completed by the end of July, according to Gene Litterski, a representative of Project Management Advisors, the group hired by the village to oversee construction of the parking garage portion of the project.

A portion of the land for the project is owned by Chicago-based Sertus Capital Partners. The village owns the L-shaped remainder of the parcel. Currently on that land is an aging village-owned parking garage.

A team of representatives from Project Management Consultants presented an updated report to the village board Monday night detailing progress on the three-story, 300-space parking garage that will be partially owned by the village. The parking garage should be finished within one year with construction starting before 2012 closes. The high-rise should be completed by the end of summer 2014.

“Our thinking right now is that this is the appropriate timeframe,” Litterski said. “From our conversations with Sertus it seems that things are going along in that fashion to maintain that schedule.”

The teams have been meeting weekly to ensure progress is being made, and village management remains in contact with Project Management Advisors as it relates to the garage.

Meetings have also been held with the village’s parking department about the logistics of the management for the garage. It is the recommendation of Project Management Advisors to have the entire garage – both the public parking portion and the spaces reserved for apartment tenants — managed by one team to provide smoother operation. Funds collected will be distributed based on who owns each part of the garage.

The garage itself is said to fit within the scope of Oak Park’s greater downtown master plan, will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and could incorporate environmentally friendly features, such as spots for Zipcars and bikes, according to village reports.

The Lake and Forest development first received approval in January, but over several years has been at the center of many lengthy board discussions due to its sheer size and density. The project is expected to bring in $1.3 million each year in tax revenue, hundreds of construction jobs and the new garage. The initial plan in 2010 was for a hotel, condos and a garage, but Sertus scrapped that plan for the rental apartments with retail space.

The current 340-space garage was built in the 1970s and is reaching the end of its life. As previously reported by Wednesday Journal, the current structure would cost $1.3 million to add another seven years of life to the garage. Previous reports also said Sertus is investing around $81 million to the project.

During the next 60 days Project Management Advisors will be reviewing financing options and review the plans with village staff. The project is set to come back to the village board for design approval.

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