The former headquarters for Oak Park School District 97 has not been transferred yet to the village of Oak Park, but that’s not stopping the village’s local economic development group from shopping the site to potential developers.

John Lynch, executive director of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit contractor hired by the village to attract and retain business to Oak Park, said he and colleague Viktor Schrader will attend the International Conference of Shopping Centers in Chicago next week to promote that site and others throughout the village to retailers from across the globe.

The former D97 administration building, 970 Madison St., combined with the adjacent former home of Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs restaurant, 934-936 Madison St., comprise a combined 42,000 square feet, Lynch said.

The village purchased the Robinson’s building in 2015 for $495,000 with the goal of marketing the entire site to a potential developer.

Which form that development will take place is still unknown.

Lynch said OPEDC and the village expect to publish a request for proposals from potential developers “in the near future.”

“It could be this fall,” he said. “Ideally we would like to have a project begin in the spring.”

He said that although the D97 building property has not been transferred to village ownership, the village can still move forward with soliciting proposals.

A mixed-use development – made up of commercial/retail on the ground floor and residential units above – is a possibility, Lynch said. He reminded that the village recently amended its zoning ordinance for Madison Street, making it possible to build a residential-only building along the commercial corridor.

He said the property likely was not large enough for a big-box store, but rather a modest-size retail space or two with surface parking.

The shopping center conference, which will be held at Navy Pier in Chicago on Oct. 19 and 20, will also give OPEDC the chance to market the retail spaces coming online as a result of large-scale mixed-use developments coming to the village.

Elevate Oak Park, which is under construction near the corner of Harlem Avenue and Lake Street, will have space for multiple retail tenants, as will the mixed-use development proposed by Lincoln Properties near the corner of South Boulevard and Harlem.

OPEDC also will be promoting the retail space expected to open up at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street, as well as available space in other parts of the village, such as North Avenue, Roosevelt Road and the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street, among others, Lynch said.


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