The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved Jupiter Realty Co. as the preferred developer for the village-owned parking lot at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street at its meeting on Oct. 29.
The new proposal is vastly different from the blockbuster project proposed by Jupiter in 2016, which included retail shops and a grocery store. That project would have “bent” Madison Street to make room for a large grocery store.
The new project brings a new twist to the years-long effort to develop the corner lot — instead of Jewel-Osco, Jupiter is now saying that a second Pete’s Fresh Market in Oak Park will be the anchor tenant for the mixed-use development that will include both commercial and residential components.
The decision comes following the recommendation of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC), a quasi-governmental entity tasked with bringing economic development to the village.
OPEDC’s letter of recommendation notes that there were four responses to the request for proposals issued in June.
The other three proposals came from Jameson Charhouse Group/Marquette Companies/TWM Consulting, Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group, and Nitti Development.
Jupiter’s vision has changed several times since the village began negotiating with the company in 2015. A recent version included: a mixed-use complex with a grocery store as large as 60,000 square feet on the second story of the building; 36,000 square feet of additional retail on the ground floor; and as many as 48 residences above a parking structure that would be available to both residents and customers of the various businesses.
Jupiter announced signing a letter of intent with Jewel-Osco grocery store in July, but Jewel pulled out of the deal in early October.
“Within a week, Jupiter reported to OPEDC that Pete’s Fresh Market was prepared to develop a new 41,500-square-foot store under a simplified development concept that would include a ground-level store with surface parking, additional outparcel retail, and would eliminate costly structured parking and the mid-rise residential component of the original proposal,” the OPEDC letter of recommendation notes.
OPEDC met with representatives of Pete’s on Oct. 12 and 19 to negotiate the proposal, putting together a plan where the village would donate to the developer the property from 700 to 728 Madison St. and provide $3 million “to fund land acquisition costs for the private property at 644 Madison St., plus any remaining costs related to environmental remediation needed to construct the proposed improvements,” according to the OPEDC letter.
Jupiter also has proposed purchasing the privately held property at 711 Madison St., on the south side of the street, to build a $60 million senior housing facility, which would be constructed by Paragon Real Estate. That would be owned by Essex Communities of Omaha, Nebraska, according to OPEDC’s letter.
That building would include 201 residential units — 30 assisted living, 40 memory care and 131 independent living — that would “span the existing Euclid Avenue right-of-way and an additional property to the west.”
Paragon asked the village to fund environmental remediation for the parcels of land, which is projected to cost $682,000.
Nitti proposed a 155-unit multifamily development but “was not short-listed due to its lack of experience in this type of large-scale multifamily infill development,” according to OPEDC’s letter of recommendation.
The board voted unanimously to accept OPEDC’s recommendation, but trustees voiced disappointment about the scaled-back project.
Trustee Dan Moroney said it must be acknowledged that the smaller proposal was “not what we want.”
“Oak Park is great but we can’t force what we want, so we have to deal with what we have,” he said. “The status quo sure as heck isn’t the best option.”
Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said that after six years of working on the project, he feels “like we can exhale.”
“Is this the perfect development that we could do on Madison Street? It’s not, but it is the best possible project that we can do right now,” he said.
Jameson/Marquette proposed a 10-story, 218-unit, mixed-use building with two restaurants on the ground floor — those restaurants would have been a 5,000-square-foot Jameson’s Charhouse and a smaller café.
Michigan Avenue Real Estate’s proposal would build a four-story, 96-unit residential building with parking and 6,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.