Oak Park-based architect John Schiess is considering redeveloping the long-vacant Roos property at 7329 Harrison St.
According to Mayor Anthony Calderone, Schiess’ plans include converting the existing building into lofts and constructing townhouses on the property’s empty space, for a total of 102 units.
Schiess has not returned phone calls from the Review, and little more information is available at this point. Patrick Wangler, the owner of the property, said that the land has not yet been sold. He declined to confirm or deny whether he was in negotiations with Schiess.
“There is, and always has been, substantial interest in the property from a lot of people,” said Wangler last week.
Calderone said he has already met with Schiess to discuss the project.
“He seemed enthusiastic about it, but I’m not part of the negotiations between him and the property owner. The purchase price could be a deal-breaker,” said Calderone.
Schiess, who has handled several residential projects in Oak Park, typically works alongside a developer as an architect and representative at village meetings, but does not normally purchase properties on his own. Calderone said he was unsure of whether Schiess was working with a partner on the project.
The property was appraised last year at $2.3 million as a residential property and $1.3 million as an industrial property, though Wangler’s asking price at the time was substantially higher at $3.75 million.
Calderone said his discussions with Schiess have mostly revolved around making the project palatable to surrounding residents, many of whom opposed a much larger scale residential development proposed by Wangler in 2003.
“[We met] to see how I feel the community might react to the concept,” said Calderone.
Calderone said that if Schiess goes forward with the project, public input will be sought every step of the way.
“I’ve informed him of the sensitivity behind that piece of property. [The development] wouldn’t be possible unless he made an admirable outreach to the community,” said Calderone.
“I didn’t examine it from a zoning aspect, but it’s possible he may need some zoning relief, and that in itself automatically requires a whole public process,” he added.
A Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning designation granted to Wangler in 2004 for the construction of a 132 unit, four-story development, which would have included demolishing the current building, was not renewed last September with the village council voicing unanimous dissatisfaction with the lack of progress made on the development.
For a time, the village explored the idea of purchasing the building along with the School District 91 and Park District of Forest Park as a joint governmental headquarters.
That idea fell through when the school district decided it was content with its current facility and the park district, which is based next door to the property, determined that it could not afford to purchase the land.