715-717 South Blvd. development rendering (John Conrad Schiess Architect)

The village board of Oak Park has allowed the developer of the multi-unit residential condominium building at 715-717 South Blvd. a six-month extension to complete construction. This is the fourth extension granted to the project, which was approved for construction almost exactly five years ago. 

“Village staff is concerned about the slow pace at which the development is moving forward,” said Tammie Grossman, director of development customer services, at the board’s March 7 meeting.

Art Gurevich, the same developer behind the much-delayed Bonnie Brae development in River Forest, requested a year-long extension. However, the project’s poor track record caused the village board to halve that length to put pressure on Gurevich to follow through.

“We’re hoping this will push the developer to get the project finished,” said Grossman. 

Had the village board denied the extension request, the project would have had to go through the entire planning process again, which staff did not recommend. Gurevich now has until Aug. 31 to complete the project.

The 14-unit, 5-story condo complex first received construction approval March 6, 2017. Under the planned development ordinance, the developer was required to submit a building permit within 12 months. Gurevich failed to do so, prompting him to request on Sept. 4, 2018 to extend the permit filing deadline by one year. He also requested to extend the project’s completion date by one year. The village board then approved another year-long extension in June of 2020, and yet another year-long extension in March of 2021. 

Gurevich told the board his most recent extension was needed due to COVID-19 and supply chain challenges, the latter presenting a “tremendous drag” to the project, he said. 

“This is just one example — the electrical service should have been [finished] in October,” said Gurevich. “And I still don’t have my electrical service.”

The building could not be heated through the winter due to delayed delivery of necessary utility parts, according to Gurevich, which made work difficult to carry out. He said those parts still have not arrived, despite having ordered them in October.

“We have challenges,” he said. “We are meeting them. We are overcoming them.”

The developer shared that much progress has been made since this time last year. The framing and most of the mechanical work have been completed. The mechanical work is expected to be inspected in the coming weeks. Dry wall has also gone up.  

“We are about 70 percent done with the building,” said Gurevich.

Despite the progress, he does not believe construction can be finished in six months. Rather, he expects that the project will be close to complete come September. Staff did not recommend giving Gurevich another full year due to his tendency to procrastinate.

“Staff believes that, while Mr. Gurevich is well-intentioned, he does tend to wait until right before the deadline to approach us and ask for an extension,” Grossman explained. 

Like staff, the patience of veteran village board members is starting to run thin regarding the project. Trustee Jim Taglia expressed his exasperation at the continued delays.

“The Empire State Building, I think, was built in like 13 months,” said Taglia. “This is taking like four times longer than the Empire State building.”

Taglia was right on the mark regarding the Empire State Building. The skyscraper took exactly one year and 45 days to build. It is shorter than the Empire State Building by 97 stories.

The village board voted 6-0 to approve the extension. Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla was absent from the meeting.

If Gurevich cannot complete construction in six months, he has the ability to return to the village board within that time frame to give an actual completion date. Staff was directed to keep tabs on the South Boulevard project.

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