H.J. Mohr & Sons Co., an industrial concrete manufacturing company and one of Oak Park’s oldest businesses, is for sale for $7 million.
The 3.29-acre plot of land, which recently appeared on loopnet.com by realtor Peter Poulos, takes up a full block at the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Garfield Street and includes a strip-mall shopping center at the corner of Harlem and Garfield and property used to store Mohr trucks to the east of South Maple Avenue. It also includes a single-family home in the 900 block of South Maple Avenue.
The listing comes months after the village of Oak Park offered the company $4.4 million for the property, sometime last year, according to Mohr’s vice president, Karen Richards.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek could not be reached for comment.
It’s been slow going putting the property on the market — the business ceased manufacturing cement in early 2018, keeping its doors open by appointment to sell off its inventory of mortar mix, stucco supplies and other materials.
Poulos declined to speak on the record about the sale, but the property is being marketed as a redevelopment site, meaning that, more than likely, the cement factory will be demolished and turned into something else.
“The 3-acre-plus assemblage is one of the largest land sites currently available in Oak Park,” the listing notes.
The village recently alerted Mohr to several building-code violations involving the factory and shopping center properties — infractions for cracks in the sidewalks; one instance of graffiti in the shopping center; peeling paint around the Mohr office building; and a pockmark left on the window of one of the shopping center storefronts by a BB-gun pellet.
Tammie Grossman, director of development and customer services for Oak Park, said the letters sent to Mohr to fix the issues came as the result of the village’s Neighborhood Walk program, which sends out building inspectors throughout the village to search for code violations. She emphasized that the warnings were not citations or tickets and that Mohr can appeal the warnings or arrange to fix them.
“I do have new staff and we’re trying to be more proactive in code enforcement issues,” Grossman said.
Meanwhile, the Mohr family has been working to sell off its remaining property. Richards said the company recently sold its fleet of cement trucks and other assets.
“My dad’s truck went to someone who … is going to keep it,” she said.
Richards said the truck has sentimental value because it was the first truck her father, Henry “Bud” Mohr, purchased for $500.
Bud had come back from fighting in World War II as a Navy serviceman and realized that the company, which then operated as a coal yard, needed to transition away from that industry. “My ma and dad just got married, and from the wedding money, they bought the first cement truck,” she said.
Richards said the closure has been a sad for the Mohr family, adding that the company was founded by her great-grandfather, H.J. Mohr, in 1893.
As the family has worked through the backstock of its holdings at the plant, they have come across several historical items, some stretching back almost to the company’s beginning.
“We found a jack up for a railroad car that says, ‘Chicago, Illinois, 1900,'” she said. “It’s sad. You’re going through all of this stuff that’s been here for over 100 years.”
She mentioned that the Christmas tree and Santa Claus figure perched atop the hopper at the plant, which could be seen year-round by motorists passing by on Harlem, also have been removed.
“People say, ‘I remember that from when I was little,'” she said. “It’s not going to be here no more.”
It’s uncertain what will become of the property, but some members of the Oak Park Board of Trustees believe it could be turned into a residential housing building.
The issue became a topic of discussion during a recent meeting of the board, where trustees approved an affordable housing ordinance.
Trustee Dan Moroney unsuccessfully moved to exclude the property from the affordable housing requirement, arguing that it might deter development at the property.