We’re fans of adaptive re-use of old buildings. We’re fans of the Roos Building, even as it sits in its decrepitude over at Circle and Harrison.
So the notion being floated, and really it is just a notion at this point, that all of Forest Park’s local governments ought to chip in and buy the Roos Building for use as their combined headquarters is interesting, even visionary. We think though that it is an enormous longshot. Because it is so intriguing, yet laced with such pitfalls, we urge an immediate and aggressive examination of the opportunity and then a quick decision.
• The Roos Building needs to be redeveloped. Right now it sits in the hands of a developer who may well be in deeply over his head. That could make a bail-out offer from the village/parks/school combine welcome. But the developer also has years’ worth of time, architectural and legal fees and, now, partial demolition costs, on the ledger. This building will not be inexpensive. A lawsuit over cell towers continues.
It is a prime parcel for development. The village cannot afford to let some greater use of this site slip away or linger for months or years more.
• Forest Park’s village hall is an inefficient dump. Too crowded. Too insubstantial to invest heavily in. The school facility across Desplaines Avenue is serviceable at best. The park district headquarters in the park is also in need of substantial investment. While the village and school headquarters could readily be marketed for lucrative development just off Madison Street, the question of how the parks would use vacated headquarters space needs a very bright idea.
• Municipal services such as police and fire require highly customized spaces. Retrofitting those departments particularly into the Roos Building could be difficult and highly expensive.
• While there might be some economies in sharing space”conference rooms, phone systems, etc.”it is clear that none of our government entities is flush with cash or bonding capacity for a massive re-do of the Roos Building. Taxpayers will not be passive if monies better spent in classrooms, park programming or essential village services are seen as being diverted into a sinkhole of a building.
So that is why this shouldn’t work. That said, we’re open to being delighted with logic and innovation. But, as we said, this needs to be a quick evaluation. Decisions need to be made, progress needs to follow on making the Roos site a contributing parcel of land again.
A progressive favorite
The Progressive Dinner (and now arts fest) is one of our very favorite Forest Park events. Taking place again this Sunday evening, the Progressive Dinner reflects all that is good and dynamic on Madison Street and in Forest Park.
Obviously the great”and still improving”restaurants on Madison are showcased. The retail and arts community is now stepping up into prominence. The event is another example of collaboration under the lead of the Forest Park Main Street organization.
This evening is both statement and simple pleasure. Enjoy.