A long vacant, village government-owned parcel on North Avenue might become a second location for a Naperville-based hard cider manufacturer and retailer.
Oak Park's village board Monday unanimously OKd the proposed sale of the site at 6641-43 North Ave. to 2 Fools Cider for just $1,000. Monte Summer, a co-owner of 2 Fools, is an Oak Park resident.
The village has been working for the last few years to find a buyer for the North Avenue site since it took possession of the property in 2014.
That parcel was formerly occupied by a derelict building left vacant after it went into foreclosure. The village spent about $207,000 to demolish the building and clean up the site, and has since issued two requests for proposals (RFP) for developers to rebuild on the property.
The first RFP was issued in May 2016 with a listing price of $145,000, but the village did not receive any responses, according to a village memo.
Two proposals were received in the most recent RFP, one from 2 Fools Cider and the other from the nonprofit MAGIC Foundation for Children's Growth, an advocate for children with rare endocrine disorders.
MAGIC Foundation offered $7,500 for the property, while 2 Fools offered $1,000.
The village board unanimously chose 2 Fools Cider as the preferred developer, with Trustee Deno Andrews recusing himself from the vote because his parents, Mary and James Andrews, were co-founders of the nonprofit.
The Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC), a consultant with the village tasked with attracting and retaining business development in Oak Park, recommended 2 Fools as the preferred developer.
OPEDC noted in its letter that 2 Fools has been operating in Naperville since 2016 and is projected to outgrow that location.
"The potential to secure a site at a significant discount to land prices in much of Oak Park is a critical factor in the feasibility of the opportunity," OPEDC noted. "If and when fully operational, the project would be expected to generate approximately $80,000 annually in property and sales tax for Oak Park taxing bodies."
The proposal from 2 Fools includes a tasting room as well as a cider canning operation. They still must go through the village's planned development process, which will give residents an opportunity to discuss parking, traffic and other issues connected to the business.
Some residents voiced their concerns at the meeting held Monday, Feb. 5.
Jennifer Cunningham, who lives near the proposed development, told trustees that she is concerned about noise from the production of the cider and traffic in the alley from delivery trucks.
"I don't want cars parked on our block at all hours of the evening for events," she said.
Judith Alexander, chair of The North Avenue District (T-NAD), endorsed the project, telling the board that either MAGIC or 2 Fools would be an improvement over "the large inventory of office space" along the commercial corridor, but the tap room would bring foot traffic and new life to North Avenue, likening it to the boost Kinslagher Brewing Company gave the area after opening shop at its location at 6806 N. Roosevelt Rd.
Summers, a 2 Fools co-owner, also compared the proposed operation to the tasting room at Kinslahger. He said they plan to offer flights of cider and snacks.
Summers noted that the space could allow 2 Fools to grow because of adjacent land they might consider purchasing down the road.
Summers, whose wife Cindy Summers owns Sugar Fixe Patisserie at 119 N. Marion St., said he plans to meet with neighbors and Kinslahger owners to further discuss how the business will establish itself to reduce its impact to neighbors.
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