It was a brief and general discussion, said Larry Piekarz, executive director of the park district, but the quick lunch he shared with developer Alex Troyanovsky at least opens the door for the park district to negotiate to buy the Roos property.
“He seemed like a very nice man,” Piekarz said. “It was more of an introduction type thing.”
The April 2 face-to-face marks the first contact between the park district and Troyanovsky, who owns the crumbling structure at 7329 Harrison, since the park district stated publicly last month its interest in buying the site. Troyanovsky holds an approval from the village council to develop the former Edward Roos Cedar Chest building into condominiums, but that project has tanked with the economy. Unless building permits are secured and work resumes by June 12, the current proposal for the housing project will officially die, according to the director of Forest Park’s building department.
The Roos is located immediately to the east of the park district, potentially serving as an ideal expansion. Many have speculated it may be the last opportunity to secure more green space in the community.
For roughly a month leading up to his meeting with Troyanovsky, Piekarz has been quietly investigating financing options should the site be made available. The subject of price never came up during their discussion, said Piekarz, and it is still not clear how the parks might pay for the acquisition.
Nonetheless, he said the meeting was a positive one.
“It could have gone the other way, he could have said, ‘no, I’m going to sit on this thing for a while,'” Piekarz said.
Howard Boy, president of the park district board, also attended the meeting. The lunch was arranged by John Schiess, an Oak Park architect who was deeply involved in the project in its early stages.
During a brief phone interview prior to the lunch meeting, Troyanovsky told the Review that he would listen to an offer for the site, just as he would for any other property he owns.
“It’s a business,” Troyanovsky said. “I would be interested to see what they want to offer.”
Troyanovsky and his partner on the project, Tomasz Litwicki, have not done any substantive work at the Roos for months. Windows that were installed have been vandalized and graffiti has made an occasional appearance. On March 27, a Chicago architecture firm, Design Bridge Ltd., filed a lien against the property for more than $334,000, according to online county records.
Asked about the June deadline on the project, Troyanovsky indicated he intends to obtain all the necessary permits. He would not, however, say whether any further work would be done.
Piekarz said he had a different impression of the housing development’s future.
“From all indications in our conversation, that project’s done,” Piekarz said. “He didn’t come right out and say it, but that’s the feeling I came away with.”