Let's build at Lake and Forest in Oak Park

Opinion: Columns

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Michael Glazier

One View

Last summer, the village board directed the Oak Park Plan Commission to review changes to the development my firm, Sertus Capital Partners LLC, proposed at Lake and Forest. After several months of commission and staff work, we anticipate the trustees will take a final vote on it next Monday night.

It's our hope the board will approve the project because we are ready to commence development of a project that will strengthen Oak Park in significant ways and contribute benefits to the community for years to come.

After enduring the real estate and financial market crash, we modified the project to reflect economic realities. Our revised proposal includes 270 rental apartments, a 588-space parking garage (300 public, 288 residential/retail) to replace the existing garage, and approximately 25,000 square feet of retail space.

The development would add approximately 400 new residents to Oak Park's population, which declined 3.4 percent between 1990 and 2010, from 53,648 to 51,878. A shrinking population means shrinking tax revenues, and population below 50,000 restricts Oak Park's access to federal and state funding.

The Greater Downtown Master Plan (GDTMP), the 1990 Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance envisioned a mixed-use, "gateway" development on the site. The GDTMP calls for the development of 1,200 new multi-family residential units in downtown Oak Park; our development would add 23 percent of that goal.

In other words, the project is exactly what Oak Park said it wants at Lake and Forest.

Not only would it fulfill Oak Park's objectives, but it also would appeal to newcomers to Oak Park seeking an attractive, high-quality rental unit as a first step to putting down roots here. At the same time, the project would offer conveniently located, single-level, zero-maintenance housing for existing residents looking to downsize and stay in the community.

Some have expressed concerns about density and height. That's understandable, but it would be impossible for even several projects combined to meet the village's residential target for downtown Oak Park without the granting of zoning allowances.

In fact, it would require more than 15 acres of land to build 1,200 residential units using a strict application of existing ordinances.

Regarding the project's private parking, Village staff confirmed the conclusions of outside experts that the number of spaces in the revised proposal is sufficient, and traffic impact would be marginal.

This is because the Lake and Forest site meets the classic definition of transit-oriented development. It's located in a mature community near a major metropolitan area with excellent transit infrastructure.

It also offers an opportunity to build a "gateway" project that links Downtown Oak Park with the Avenue District, another planning objective that also would strengthen Oak Park's long-term finances.

For instance, the project would generate more than $1.3 million in property taxes and an estimated $178,000 in sales taxes from new retail stores, not to mention a building permit fee of $600,000.

There are more benefits to the project at Lake and Forest than its financial advantages, of course. We have agreed to pay for improvements at Austin Gardens, install public art at Lake and Forest, and fund improvements to the 19th Century Club building and parking lot.

Since we purchased the property at Lake and Forest, we have been a patient and prudent partner to the village in our efforts to develop the site, an approach we again followed during the recent work of the plan commission.

It's our hope that the village board agrees the revised proposal at Lake and Forest is a thoughtful response to changes in the marketplace, that the allowances requested are reasonable and consistent with the village's plans, and that Oak Park is ready to work with us to fulfill its vision for Lake and Forest.

Michael Glazier is managing director, Sertus Capital Partners, LLC.

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Silly needs to go back to skool  

Posted: January 8th, 2012 2:30 AM

Why never proper spelling or grammar? So painful...


Posted: January 8th, 2012 1:21 AM

Enuf, I see you've backed away from all of your false accusations of "back room deals" and illegal meetings and arrangement's prior to any public approvals. At least you've come to your senses to see your untrue and implicit statements. Michael Glazer has an interest in HIS COMPANIES project going forward. Why is it alarming to you that he would want the same thing today that he wanted in the beginning of his journey? Makes sense to me.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2012 10:56 PM

On Nov. 1, 2005, Michael Glazier sent a letter to David Pope outlining his proposed development for the Lake & Forest site. On Jan. 4, 2012, over 6 years later, Michael Glazier decided to carefully choose the above 619 words to publicly solicit support for his project with almost the exact same message. For the past 2,255 days, and in these 619 words, we have heard the same benefits of the proposed project, but never any mention of secured financing. Times up, Mr Glazier.


Posted: January 5th, 2012 10:09 AM

Why wouldnt the WJ allow any one, let alone someone who wants to spend $20 Million in our town to write their opinion. I would think they would. Opinions are just that. This, in no way resembles an ad. An ad for what? A building thats not even approved? Will people remember this One View and then rent there in 2 years? Far stretch Murtagh.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 5th, 2012 10:01 AM

Hi Luke. I am familiar enough with public relation to know it can be a profession of barter, trade, and deals. Its purpose is to present a partisan viewpoint for the good of the venture it supports. Ethics and objectivity is not its game. Your point on Sertus and the WJ using One View to make it easier for Online Readers access is weak. As is frequently pointed out the Online Line readers are a very small segment of the WJ audience, and the WJ sells online ad space. I might buy your view if you were implying that the WJ should allow any land or business owner to use the OneView space to lobby the board and residents. But I think the WJ, and you, saw this as a unique situation; not available to everyone. The fact that the WJ ran an editorial supporting the project in the same issue seems to point in that direction. WJ is the decision maker on the subject. They had every right to dilute the value of "OneView".

Luke ScottWalker from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2012 9:23 AM

John/Epic: it's called Public Relations. Universities have degrees in it. Businesses & govts do it all the time. Are you saying a business owner doesn't have a right to voice his opinion/position on an issue? Since many folks read WJ online, they wouldn't likely see a full page printed ad with the same content. To the issue at hand, the more I learn, the more I say build it. This is a creative way to draw new taxpayers & homebuyers to OP, & I concur it gives empty nesters a way to stay here.

Let's Build Smaller at Lake and Forest  

Posted: January 4th, 2012 10:57 PM

The central issue here is not whether to build, BUT HOW. Fact of the matter is this: It's tall because it's more profitable. Sertus clearly over-payed for the land and needs to develop this as dense as possible. Plus their interest carry is enormous by now. They are pushing this as far as they can as any developer would. If they fail in the vote, guess what happens? Let their lender foreclose? No-they come back and propose a smaller development. Bet on it. LET'S BUILD SMALLER AT LAKE & FORES


Posted: January 4th, 2012 10:10 PM

The truth does hurt. Sorry you 2 were offended. Information will set you free.

epic lulz  

Posted: January 4th, 2012 9:53 PM

What John said. It's ridiculous for WJ to publish this advertisement as a free op-ed column.


Posted: January 4th, 2012 9:42 PM

Its called communicating to the ones who hold the power to his plan. DOH. I suppose you would spend money that you dont have to? I thought you were all about fiscal responsibility? Your words and actions dont say so. I can see why you have never ran a business. I thought this piece was very informative. Doers the WJ charge you to write your views?

John Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 4th, 2012 9:23 PM

Mike Glazier - Sertus Columnist - Isn't the Wednesday Journal very, very generous in giving Mike Glazier and Sertus free news space for Mike, his company, and his Oak Park High Rise. Many newspapers would have charged Glazier for the advertisement.

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