228/230 Madison St., Oak Park (Google maps)

The Park District of Oak Park (PDOP) is accepting bids to demolish a two-story office building adjacent to its headquarters. The park district bought building in 2019. Once leveled, the property will be converted into a parking lot for park district vehicles. 

“We’re looking to approve bids in August or September,” said PDOP Executive Director Jan Arnold. “The expectation is that we would see it demolished in probably October, November.”

The park district purchased the property as is in 2019 at an agreed contract price of $477,560. While only one building, it is split into two addresses, with the top floor at 228 Madison St. and the bottom 230 Madison St.

“We purchased it with the purpose to demolish it for park district bus and van parking,” said Arnold.

A handful of spots will be reserved in the new surface parking lot for overflow visitor parking from the planned community recreation center which is intended to be built just across Madison Street. Arnold expects that about eight to 10 park district vehicles, which includes its two 15-passenger busses and one minivan, will be parked at any given time. The park district estimates the demolition will cost around $150,000 to $200,000 depending on the amount of environmental remediation required.

Currently, the park district houses its vehicles across the street on the parcels where the planned community recreation center will be built. The land for the center was donated to the park district by local philanthropists Mary Jo and Stephen Schuler in 2019.

The park district held off on demolishing the building next door to its main building at the time of purchase, instead allowing two non-profit organizations to use the space. Yemba Inc. occupied the top floor, while Western Suburban Special Recreational Association (WSSRA) took the bottom. Arnold made it clear that there was no renter-landlord arrangement between the district and the organizations.

“We did not have renters,” said Arnold.

Western Suburban Special Recreational Association (WSSRA) took the bottom. WSSRA used the facility to operate its programming for children with special needs. Yemba facilitated programming from upstairs, as well as had their leadership offices there.

“There was no charge to WWSRA because they’re a partner of ours,” said Arnold. “There was a nominal fee being paid by Yemba to help cover the cost of utilities.”

Both organizations were made aware from the start of the park district’s intention to convert the building into parking, according to Arnold. Yemba has since moved its offices to a new location and WSSRA is in the process of relocating.

The park district made the decision to move forward with demolition after experiencing problems with the building’s heating and cooling system. The building is also prone to rain penetration.

“In order to prevent any damage to our existing facility, the time was for it to come down,” said Arnold.

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