Built on six acres, well built, thoughtfully planned for a site adjacent to public transit and near to Madison Street, The Residences at the Grove may have been the most ambitious single building project in Forest Park’s history. And with a trio of veteran developers leading the effort, it had strong credentials.
What the Grove did not have was good timing. The 193-unit project was constructed at the height of the real estate bubble with easy money, high costs and top prices for its condos and townhouses. And then, in a few short months, the real estate market tanked and the project has been teetering since as sales gave way to limited rentals, a successor bank tried to claw back its loan and the developers, who confidently made personal guarantees, sought a path toward solvency on this project.
Now with $11 million still owed and the market for condos still soft even as the real estate market shows slim improvement, FirstMerit Bank has personally sued the three developers based on their loan guarantees. The process toward a resolution of this ill-timed effort will continue in conference rooms or courtrooms. All involved will take losses.
And after the pain has been fully shared and absorbed, the Residences at the Grove will remain as a notable accomplishment in converting obsolete manufacturing sites into a lasting piece of residential Forest Park.