No one ever said it would be easy. And turning the decrepit Roos Building into the final phase of the crown jewel of Forest Park’s park is proving an interesting challenge. The president of the Park District of Forest Park professes to be “cautiously optimistic.”
We’ll join her in that optimism based on the reality that the park district’s negotiations to buy the building out of its multiple layers of financial ruin are the only game in town.
When the history of America’s financial meltdown of the past two years is put to paper, the Roos Building ought to be a case study. It has everything. Efforts to gigantically overdevelop the site at Circle and Harrison as residential housing represent all the excesses of the housing boom and bubble. The top of market payment for the site by developers, the easy money available from profligate banks for speculative projects set the stage for the collapse of housing and financial institutions.
One of those steroid-juiced institutions, Amcore Bank of Rockford, was holding the hot potato during the implosion. They foreclosed on the developer and they were, in effect, foreclosed on when the FDIC took away the keys to the vault. Enter Harris Bank, the proud new owner of Amcore’s assets, including the Roos.
The park district, with a generous community’s tax dollars, has reached “an agreement in principle” to buy the Roos. The deal still must get court approval. We’re hopeful that will come soon. This visionary expansion of the park should move forward. We’re confident in this project.