Oak Park buys Car-X land for $1.3M

Madison Street property intended for Jupiter Realty megaproject

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees voted unanimously to spend $1.3 million from the Madison Street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District to purchase the parcel of land that is now home to Car-X Tire & Auto, 700 Madison St.

The parcel of land is intended to be used for a much larger project proposed last year by Jupiter Realty, which would involve assembling parcels of land, including the village-owned parking lot at the northeast corner of Madison and Oak Park Avenue and other adjacent properties along Madison.

Jupiter principal Jerry Ong said in September of 2016 that Jupiter was working to purchase the Car-X property as well as the nearby Foley-Rice buildings on the north and south side of Madison, as well as Spike's Boutique Hotel for Dogs at 725 Madison St.

Public discussion of the proposed Jupiter project has slowed down over the past 12 months, but Jupiter said last year it aimed to build a large-scale project on both sides of Madison Street on the 700 North block and the north side of the 600 block.

A mixed-use development with 39 condominiums and 34,850 square feet of retail space would be built on the village parking lot and properties to the east, which includes the Car-X property. 

A 48,400-square-foot grocery store or other large retailer would be located on the south side of Madison in the 700 block, which is now occupied by the former Foley-Rice automobile dealer.

Jupiter's plan also includes a three-story, mixed-use building with 13,300 square feet of retail on the north side of the 600 block of Madison.

Jupiter has the Car-X property under contract, but that contract is set to expire if they don't make an offer, according to Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb. He told trustees that Car-X is now being approached by other franchises owners within their own company to sell the property.

He said the village can "walk away" from the deal and "deal with the next owner." 

"Or we could jump on this opportunity and try to make the [parking lot] that the taxpayers own … more valuable by having Car-X out of there." Abu-Taleb said. 

"Look, I think everybody understands that, over the last four or five years, we have a village [where] the taxpayers have owned more than 365,000 square feet of property that was off the tax rolls. 

"It's not like we're in love [with] owning property because we've gotten rid of all of it pretty much, except the northeast corner of Oak Park and Madison."

He noted that other village boards have unsuccessfully attempted to purchase Car-X. "This is an opportunity to have control over what happens in that area," Abu-Taleb said.

Oak Park resident Chris Donovan, who opposes the redevelopment project, asked whether the village has an appraisal showing the property is worth $1.3 million. Donovan clarified after the meeting that he does not oppose the project itself, but the part of the proposal that would reorient Madison Street, causing the commercial corridor to bend near the intersection with Oak Park Avenue.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said the village did not appraise the property.

"This is the price they are willing to sell that property for, and I think there is a decision for the village when you talk about implementing the Madison vision," she said. "It has been a property that is key to connecting another vacant parcel with our property for a long period of time, and this is the price the owner is willing to enter into a sales agreement. It wasn't reached easily."

Trustee Deno Andrew asked if purchasing the property would put the village in a stronger position for any future project, even if the property does not have a market value of $1.3 million.

"I think that multiple village boards have really struggled with how to connect the number of vacant parcels along Madison Street," Pavlicek replied, "and when the village board established that their priority was really East Avenue to Oak Park and Madison, I think this is aligned with that strategy, and if the village is able to assemble those parcels, you have a better ability to identify the highest and best use for that area."

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Alice Caputo  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 2:23 PM

Good questions for the Board 1. Is the site contaminated? 2. If so, who pays for the clean up? 3. At what price did Jupiter have the property under contract? 4. At what price will OP sell the property to a developer? Fair break even price will be purchase price, plus loss taxes plus out of pocket costs (e.g. legal, environmental) 5. What is the appraised value of Car-X and all other parcels? 6. If Jupiter no longer controls Car-X, the RFP for developers must be re-opened.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 1:17 PM

There is a history of the taxpayers footing the bill for environmental cleanup, Brian. If the Car-X lot has contaminated soil it makes sense that Jupiter would now expect the Village to be responsible for the removal. It's an expense and time consuming process. Hopefully, testing was conducted prior to the sale.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 11:41 AM

The village pulled $3 million from the DTOP TIF to remediate the Oak Park Station site, two years ago. And the owner of the 700-728 Madison parcel received a No Further Remediation letter from the Illinois EPA in 2005. That doesn't necessarily mean they remediated the soil (though they may have) just that any contamination there was blocked from getting into the environmental air.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 11:19 AM

So Car X is currently paying $33,000 in property taxes for that single P.I.N. 16-07-418-018. Now that it is village owned, I assume there will be no tax revenue ? Why didn't Jupiter just buy it? Why are tax dollars being used for a private development? Will be interesting to see how Jupiter acquires the l and from the Village of Oak Park. I bet it is less than $1.3 million, but the village will say "in the long run, it's what is best for the community".

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 10:46 AM

@ Jim Coughlin: Wasnt there another project recently where the Village got stuck with a soil contamination bill?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 15th, 2017 9:59 PM

Has the soil been tested for environmental hazards Who will be responsible for any cleanup required?

Christine Vernon  

Posted: September 15th, 2017 9:37 PM

Which of their freinds are they amassing a large parcel of land for? Why can't the market just go the way of free enterprise? Will we drive every business there is out of Oak Park. Is the idea just to have residences on Madison as happened near Oak Park Hospital? What gives with this approach to "control"?

Irene Kiep Longua  

Posted: September 15th, 2017 6:04 PM

So the village buys a viable business that will now be paid handsomely to relocate somewhere else off of Madison and quite probably out of Oak Park since the real truth of this is no car businesses will be allowed on Madison whether the street is widened or not. I want to hear the real truth and not this " we are the new Madison" nonsense.

Josh Vanderberg  

Posted: September 14th, 2017 12:27 PM

So, the board blinked first I guess and Jupiter will save a lot of money. Clearly if Jupiter thought this were a fair price, they would have paid it themselves. In the end, let there be no doubt that Jupiter will pay much less than $1.3M the village spent on this property, but it will be rolled into a big mess of a deal where those accounting details get lost.

Alice Caputo  

Posted: September 13th, 2017 10:02 PM

I'm confused. The headline says the Village buys the Car-X, the article says Jupiter, they developer the Village chose, in part, because they had adjacent properties under contract. 1. What, if any properties does Jupiter have under contract? 2. What is the contract price for Car-X under the Jupiter contract? 3. Why doesn't the Village let Jupiter spend its own money on Car-X?

Tom Coffman  

Posted: September 13th, 2017 9:11 AM

The village already controls the area. Completely stupid move. Are they going to let it sit there for 20 years, like the other properties they own, like the corner (Madison and Oak Park Ave), once called the most valuable corner in Oak Park? About ten years ago the WJournal did a piece on that parcel and how they forced out the Arab owner. They should just rerun the article for new folks to the area.

David Gulbransen  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 6:31 PM

Maybe they could lease it out to a new Tasty Dog.

Richard Holland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 4:28 PM

I would offer up as an example of The village's integrity in keeping its promises when encouraging development the 500 block of Cuyler and how the residents were promised all sorts of protections when the CVS was expanded. They were promised limits on loading and unloading of trucks, restrictions on traffic, noise remidation etc...etc.... all of which was conveniently forgotten and ignored once the construction project reached he point of inevitability. I have met with the Mayor and Jupiter and heard all sorts of lip service paid to protecting the local residents with no effort to engage beyond trying to quiet some potentially bad PR as the reality of their plan came to light. Given this administrations history of throwing the few under the bus in the name of "encouraging business and future tax revenue" I think we should all be asking for specifics when the Village decides to grossly overpay for property in the interest of private companies who have been offered generous tax incentives. The complete lack of accountability is disturbing. This vote was, from what I have heard, not even originally on the agenda until some of the newer board members asked why it was not being discussed. Why have the plans for this area been so consistently obfuscated?

Richard Holland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 4:14 PM

Does this mean that the utterly crazy "bend/road diet" plan is back on? I thought this particular boondoggle where OP wanted to spend many millions of dollars moving Madison street, gifting millions in village assets to a for-profit, non-OP based corporation in the form of several lots (including this newly acquired 1.3m parcel), all to (as initially planned) relocate the Madison Jewel to the location of a successful, minority owned business, quietly gone the way of the similarly stupid Cap the Ike idea. So for a net loss of several functioning, profitable businesses, and gain of little or no new business with the only real winner in the original plan, allegedly being Fenwick who would buy/ be gifted the now vacant Jewel lot for the sports field they have been slowly accumulating property in furtherance of. So what is the plan now? I understand that Jewel balked at the square footage price and the fact that the parking lot would be small and located on top of the store. There are rumors of a potential anchor interested but as all of the grocery chains passed on I have to think we are on to the B grade options. It would be great if he Village would roll back the secretive nonsense they typically engage in and start involving and informing the community. I am all for development if isn't silly, expensive, pointless, and purely for "Mayor" abu-Taleb's pointless business above all else regardless of who is harmed desire to put up as many buildings as possible. Tell us what you are planning, start asking for community input, stop skirting open meetings laws under the guise of the sham OPEDC, and please drop this stupid bend idea and come up with something that makes sense and isn't asked upon the idea that impeding traffic will help traffic.

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