Developers and local officials gathered at the site of the Lake and Forest mixed-use development project Thursday for the official groundbreaking.

It was the project some thought would never get built, but after seven years of starts and stops, developers officially broke ground on a 21-story mixed-use development at the corner Lake and Forest on Thursday.

The building will include 25,000 square feet of ground and second floor retail and commercial space with 270 apartments above. The joint venture between Chicago-based developers Golub & Company and national real estate company Wood Partners LLC also will replace a village-owned parking garage with a 588-space garage.

The project has taken many forms since the old grocery store and pancake restaurant  property was purchased by developer Sertus Capital Partners, headed by Michael Glazier, for $9 million in 2006. The first proposal in 2007 would have built a 13-story 208-unit condo building and parking garage with 830 spaces.

Glazier said in 2008 that Sertus planned to break ground the following year or in early 2010, but in 2009, under pressure from the village, developers changed the proposal to develop a 19-story hotel and 488-space parking garage at the downtown location.

That proposal changed again over the next few years to a 20-story 140-room hotel and 89-unit luxury condo development, but an economy weakened by the 2008 financial crash made financing scarce.

Unable to secure financing for the project, Glazier and Sertus returned in 2011 with the project that developers broke ground on Thursday.

Glazier, asked to discuss the history of the project at the groundbreaking, said he had no interest in “rehashing the past.”

 Village President Anan Abu-Taleb praised the project and the development team, noting that it would bring nearly $100 million in private investment to Oak Park.

He said the project also sends the message to other developers that Oak Park “is open for business.”

“Breaking ground on Lake and Forest is a significant achievement for the entire team involved in the project for the last several years, and we are delighted this day has arrived,” Lee Golub, executive vice president of Golub & Company, said.

The project, expected to be completed and occupied by early 2016, will bring 400 residents to downtown. The $99 million project is projected to generate $1.3 million annually in property and sales taxes.

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