Colt building like herpes just won't go away

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By John Hubbuch

Last week's story on the Colt Building was just the latest chapter in the lengthy story of the Colt Building. The story is an old one. Not so old that many of the developers, Village officials and elected leaders aren't still around, but they ain't talking. Everyone involved in this debacle wants to blame the failure to develop the property on the great economoc collapse in 2008, but I know better.        

The reality of course is that if acrimonius local politics hadn't delayed construction, the project would have been almost certainly funded and completed before the economy went off the rails. The failure of our elected leaders to come together on this was costly. I'm sure some one could calculate the lost revenue, property and sales taxes, employment and all the other stuff that comes from a big development in the heart of a downtown, but like I said ain't nobody talkin.       

 If I were to guess I would say the failure to get the project done before the storm was due to the long-standing battle between preservationists and economic developers. Recall that the Colt Building had some arguable historic significance, and as a result precious time was lost fooling around on trying to save or renovate it. Another possible explanation is the animus between a split board who couldn't stand each other personally. It took several election cycles to resolve the animus, but by then it was too late.                  

This fiasco  illustrates why local elections are so much more important than state and federal elections. A shift of a thousand votes can impact millions of dollars. The story of the Colt Building would be a cautionary tale for the Village's future, if only those who know the story would tell it . Confession is good for the soul. 

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Reader Comments

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Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 3:44 PM

Can someone enlighten me about how this new construction will improve the quality of life for OP residents when we already have empty storefronts and condos as well as limited parking space for those who shop and live here? The obvious answer seems to be increased tax revenues, but my taxes keep going up... All I can see is profit being made by the developers, not the residents. What am I missing?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 1:35 PM

Building - Good to hear. How is resident signups going?


Posted: August 1st, 2013 12:50 PM

New interfaith building on Madison coming along nicely....

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 12:45 PM

I'm with John on this issue. There was a lot of dithering and politicing re Colt that benefited no one.

dystOPia from OP  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 11:00 AM

Mr. Hubbuch ... please check your timeline. Taxman did not present his redevelopment project until late 2005. Even if immediately approved by the village board, construction would not have been completed until 2007. Therefore, Taxman's 200+ luxury condos would have gone on the market right after the start of the housing recession, thereby setting the stage for a project failure (see SoHo project for similar results) resulting in a sea of vacant condos and retail storefronts in downtown Oak Park.


Posted: August 1st, 2013 8:54 AM

Sy Taxman, the guy who brought to Oak Park TGI Fridays, the Gap, Old Navy, and Pier One must have laughed all the way to the bank when the Village didn't approve his development plans and then saddling all of us with the Colt Building.

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