H.J. Mohr & Sons Co., an industrial concrete manufacturing company opened in 1893 – one of the oldest in the state – has had its doors closed since February and may never reopen – at least not under the same name.
Karen Richards, a principle of Mohr & Sons, said the company is currently working with a lawyer to chart a path for the business's future, but a confidentiality agreement precluded her from revealing more.
"It's just breaking my heart because we've been there since 1893," she said.
Mohr Concrete sits on nearly a block at Harlem Avenue and Garfield Street. The industrial use has been both an oddity and a source of some contention with Oak Park and Forest Park neighbors.
Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said in a telephone interview that the village has been in touch with Mohr & Sons for over a year about their future plans, but he was short on details about the privately held company.
"We've been in contact with Mohr and we value the business they've done in our community for decades," he said. "They've been an excellent contributor to our community.
"We hope they end up with the outcome that is desirable for them."
He added that the village "stands ready to help them in any way we can."
Abu-Taleb said the company has reached out to the village to keep officials informed about the company's future and their intentions.
"I value that relationship," he said.
Asked what his hopes are for the future of the property, whether it is sold to another concrete manufacturing company or a different entity, Abu-Taleb said, "My preference has always been for the community as a whole, as long as we achieve what is best for the taxpayer."
"We're trying to figure out what is the best use of such a valuable property," he said.
Abu-Taleb said he does not know why the company closed its doors earlier this year. "They are veterans in making good business decisions, and I trust their judgment on what they've chosen to do."
Oak Park Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said she was not privy to the inner business dealings of the company, but confirmed that the business was not located within the boundaries of the Harlem Tax Increment Finance District – a special taxation district in the area – which was retired in 2017.
That special tax district, therefore, would have no bearing on any future decisions by the village associated with the land occupied by Mohr & Sons.
The family owned business was established by H.J. Mohr, who went on to become the first mayor of Forest Park. In 1950, his grandson, Howard R. Mohr, started a heating-oil company called Mohr Oil.
H.J. Mohr & Sons Co. has faced some controversy over the years, most notably in 2005, when neighbors complained about the unsightly nature of the business. Residents wanted Mohr to landscape the area around its facility and do something to improve the look of a concrete wall around the facility.