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Peeling back years of paint, grime and neglect is one of the early steps in a rehabilitation process aimed at restoring one of the village’s largest and most storied properties. The Roos Building on Harrison Street, just south of the Eisenhower Expressway and west of the Park District, has been home to a handful of industrial endeavors, starting with the Roos Cedar Chest Company in the 1920s, and is slated to become the home of local families.
But before anyone can move into the condos and townhouses that will be erected, there is the daunting task of an enormous facelift.
The 107,000-square foot building has laid dormant for years, falling prey to vandals, graffiti and time. Tom Litwicki, a project manager for Regency Development Group, said when crews first arrived and saw pigeon droppings coating the interior surfaces, the depth to which the building had been abandoned was apparent. But during a recent tour of the property, Litwicki pointed to the structure’s sturdy brick and timber construction as a major benefit. Of the hundreds of timber beams supporting the once pulsing factory’s three-stories, not one is in need of replacing.
It will take several weeks of sandblasting alone to uncover the rich, amber tones of the wood and brick on a single floor. In the months to come, windows will be replaced, living spaces will be carved out and life will return at the hands of one of the biggest and most controversial projects in Forest Park. This collection of photos is the first in an occasional series documenting the Roos Building’s transformation.