Oak Park village trustees unanimously approved a redevelopment agreement for a $73.5 million mixed-use rental and retail development planned for an area near the corner of Lake and Harlem.
The village will contribute $12.5 million toward the project in payments, land conveyances and tax rebates.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said at Monday’s board meeting that $4 million from the village will go toward construction of a 422-space parking garage that is expected to cost an estimated $13.3 million to build. The project will be paid for with long-term financing such as a bond, according to Tammie Grossman, the village’s director of development customer services. Pavlicek said such a bond would likely have a 20-year term.
Another $2.6 million will go toward building a new street alongside the development, bounded by Lake Street and North Boulevard near Harlem Avenue, and for additional public utility improvements, such as sidewalks, street lighting and sewer systems. It will likely be financed through a combination of revenues from the village Water and Sewer Fund and, in the short term, proceeds from the soon-to-expire TIF, Pavlicek told the board.
Another $750,000 in sales tax revenue generated by the retail portion of the project will be given to Clark Street Developers in increments over several years.
The final aspect of the village government’s support for the project totals $5.1 million and comes from the donation of the village-owned land that will be conveyed to the developers for the project. The figure is based on a recent appraisal of the entire property and is a lower number than the $6 million the village has paid out in just the past few years for portions of the property.
Trustee Bob Tucker acknowledged that there has been some blowback from residents on the amount the village will contribute toward the project, but he said it is a better investment for the community than the village-owned surface parking lot that currently occupies the location.
“I understand that we are replacing the most wonderful surface parking lot ever known to man and the most productive use of that space known to this village; I know it’s difficult, but we’re going to replace it,” he sarcastically noted. “I think we are going to replace it with something better that will better serve the community.”
Tucker continued, saying that there was a “false outrage” over the project that would build a “parking garage that’s going to create public parking spaces for our residents and our local merchants to further their businesses and further the economic growth of a very important economic tool of downtown Oak Park.”
Trustee Colette Lueck called on the village to make information about the project available to the public, so residents can keep track of whether developers are keeping their promises on deadlines and plans.
“The public has over and over and over again asked us, ‘Show us the data that demonstrates what (developers) said was either true or not true.’ Maybe it doesn’t happen for all kinds of reasons, but at least track it so we know,” she said.
She said making such information available to the public would show “what revenue is coming in and what the costs to the village actually look like.”
Village President Anan Abu-Taleb said that the money, land and other resources contributed to the project is a good move for the community.
“I don’t look at this as spending money, but as investing in our community,” he said.
He said the land is not earning its potential as a surface parking lot. He noted that the economic climate requires a financial commitment from the village government for the project to move forward.
“Believe me, if we were able to find a developer of equivalent experience and has the financial capability and was willing to pay us book value for the land and was willing to build the street for us and was willing to let us take all the revenue from the garage, we would have jumped on that in a heartbeat, but that’s not what the market dictates,” he said.