Mayor Anthony Calderone said last week that a closing on the purchase of the long-vacant Roos property, 7329 Harrison St., seemed almost certain, with an official announcement to come in the near future.
“I talked to the developer and it looks as though him closing on the property is going to enter a stage of being imminent,” he said.
Oak Park architect and developer John Schiess has been in talks regarding a potential purchase of the property for at least two months. His plans, sources have said, call for the conversion of the existing vacant building into lofts and the construction of new townhouses on the property’s vacant space.
The plan, according to Calderone, would include a total of 102 dwelling units, which would sell in the upper $300,000s.
Schiess said he could not yet discuss the project, but expected to make a joint announcement along with Calderone within the weeks to come. Calderone also said that a joint press conference was in the works.
There has been no word yet concerning the purchase price of the property, though the village had it appraised at $2.3 million as a residential property last year when it was considering purchasing the land along with the Park District of Forest Park and Forest Park School District 91 for use as a governmental center.
A Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning designation granted to current owner Patrick Wangler in late 2004 for the construction of a 132 unit, four building development was not renewed last September due to Wangler’s failure to get the project underway in a timely manner.
That development was significantly scaled down from an initial proposal that included nearly 200 units, drawing criticism from residents who were concerned with density issues as well as the burden such a development would create for local infrastructure.
Many of the same residents have grown impatient by the lack of progress on the property, with many calling the run-down building an “eyesore” and expressing concern regarding its potential to attract crime and impact property values.
Schiess, who has handled several residential projects in Oak Park, typically works alongside a developer as an architect and representative at village meetings, though it is uncertain who he is working with on the Roos project at this time. One common collaborator has been developer Alex Troyanovsky, commonly referred to simply as “The Russian” due to his behind the scenes style.
The two were named Oak Park Villagers of The Year by the Review’s sister paper Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest in 2004.
Calderone has vowed that all possible efforts will be made to seek input from the public regarding the development of the site once the purchase has been finalized.