Hats off to the Park District of Forest Park for its acquisition of the Roos Building. And for its patience and its perseverance in waiting out the quirks and the twists of a disintegrating economy that laid low banks and developers and which, finally, set a market value on this prime parcel of just $499,000.
With the many millions of dollars bet and lost by greedy developers and overreaching banks at the corner of Circle and Harrison, the once stately Roos Building stands, barely, as the very image of the excesses of the housing bubble.
Oh, well. So much for the losses of The Russian, developer Alex Troyanovsky, now reportedly back in Mother Russia. So much for the shuttered and shamed Amcorp Bank which extended a $15 million construction loan to fund the Russian’s pipedream. Pity the American taxpayer who helped pay for the cleanup of failed banks such as Amcorp.
But good for Forest Parkers who placed faith in the park district with a tax hike in 2010 intended directly to dramatically expand the footprint of the park with the adjacent Roos site. The park district prudently bided its time and has now won a once-in-a-lifetime prize with this purchase.
Wisely the park board announced after last week’s purchase that it will now revisit earlier plans for the renovation of a portion – the Harrison Street facing – of the Roos given the long, hard weather exposure it has suffered during its limbo years. A structural assessment will come first with the simple question: “Can this building be saved?”
Then the park district says it will reconvene a series of focus groups among Forest Parkers and various park constituencies to plan for future uses.
With the property finally in hand, with money in the bank and an ongoing funding source via taxpayers, this is an exciting time for the park district to contemplate its future. A gymnasium. Preschool facility. Fitness room. More field space. The options are near limitless.
The park board seems ready to move forward thoughtfully yet expeditiously. The district’s patience has been rewarded.