No one’s raising their hand to tear down the Roos building.
When park board members gathered recently to open bids on the demolition of 7329 Harrison, they found there weren’t any.
Park District director Larry Piekarz defended the decision to seek bids for demolition even before the park district owns the property and said he doesn’t know why no one bid on the contract.
“We need to start getting hard prices so, when it does happen, we hit the ground running and that’s our first step: to complete demolition,” Piekarz told the Review. “We’ll try it again.”
Cathleen McDermott, park board president, echoed her comments in this latest chapter of the park district’s attempt to expand Forest Park’s largest park by acquiring property at Circle Avenue and Harrison Street that neighbors the park district’s headquarters.
“Negotiations continue,” McDermott said again last week. “It’s a process. We remain cautiously optimistic.”
In anticipation of securing the 2.5-acre Roos parcel from its latest owner, the park district put out a notice last month that it was accepting bids to demolish some of the structures on the property.
McDermott has said that putting the demolition contract out for bid didn’t mean acquisition of the Roos property was a done deal. “The purpose of going out to bid for demolition was just to keep the ball rolling,” McDermott told the Review in July.
In February, voters passed a property tax increase referendum authorizing the park district to collect an additional 12 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on property in Forest Park and to use that additional revenue to buy the long-empty Roos property, development of which stalled amid collapse of the housing market.
Plans for reviving the expanded area include a community garden, green space and a gym.
If the park district is successful in buying the Roos property, it plans to preserve only the portion of the Roos building that faces Harrison Street.
To buy the property, the park district is working with Harris Bank, which acquired the Roos parcel this spring after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation seized Amcore Bank and transferred its assets to Harris. Amcore had taken possession of the property after foreclosing on a construction loan when an attempt to build loft condominiums and townhouses on the Roos property failed.