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Village Board Approves Purchase of 111th and Cicero Retail Property for $10.9 Million

Land deal brings blighted corner of 111th Street and Cicero Avenue one step closer to redevelopment.

The Oak Lawn Village Board approved a purchase deal and assumed ownership of the village’s most notorious eyesore on a former wetland—the outdated retail development on the corner of Cicero Avenue and 111th Street.

Village board members unanimously voted to purchase the property for $10.9 million from the current owner, J.C. Penney, during Tuesday’s board meeting.

The purchase includes more than half of the 42-acre collection of land parcels, including the parcel adjacent to the former Edgar Funeral Homes, and the large asphalt parking lot in front of the Kmart along Cicero Avenue up to 111th Street.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen said the village had the property appraised and purchased it for slightly below its assessed valuation of $13 million.

“That is paltry,” Deetjen said.

The collection of retail parcels became a subject of controversy when the village board voted in 2006 to create a $25 million TIF district to redevelop the land. Kmart opposed the TIF and sued the village shortly thereafter. Sears Holdings later joined Kmart in its lawsuit against the village when Sears assumed ownership of Kmart after it declared bankruptcy.

Trustee Jerry Hurckes (Dist. 1) had high praise for the land purchase but wondered how the village could move forward on it with a pending lawsuit.

Deetjen said progress has been made in discussions with Sears Holdings, the parent company of Kmart.

“(Sears Holdings-Kmart) has been responsive,” Deetjen said. “The return on investment if we were in the market, which we are not, is very market driven. I think all the parties understand that. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to come to some agreement with each other.”

The village plans to take out short-term loans to assemble the parcels, then pass them on to a developer who will secure more permanent financing. The village may then sell the property to the developer or enter into a master lease.

“That’s our exit strategy,” Deetjen said.

Sales tax revenue generated from stores in the development after it’s completed would go toward paying the village’s debt from purchasing the land and the tax increment. After that, 1.5 percent of new sales tax revenue would go back to the village, Deetjen added.

At least four banks have offered financial assistance to help the village assemble the parcels. The village has already chosen a developer, Chicago-based Hamilton Partners.

Plans are to build a mixed-use commercial development that will incorporate the by connecting the bike path and to provide much needed water detention to relieve flooding.

Deetjen said that several nationally known stores and restaurants already have expressed interest in the redevelopment, viewing that stretch of Cicero as a strong business corner.

A resident asked how the village plans to pay for the purchase stating, “The devil is in the details.”

“I don’t think there is a devil here,” Mayor Dave Heilmann responded. “It’s going to cost us a lot more in terms of the time that has gone by. I know the economy is bad, but if we sit by and tread water, forget it. There’s nothing hidden. It’s very open.

“Any developer will tell you that you have to acquire the land and it goes out of your hands so it can be developed …” Heilmann added. “It’s not like we’re going to sit there and own the land forever. That’s not our goal. This is a step you take.”

OakLawnGuy July 15, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Oak Lawn gets deeper into the real estate business during a difficult time - that's not a good strategy imho.
IPFWGK1 July 15, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Please no dollar store, chucky cheese, hobo, chinese buffets, gold 4 cash, any type of payday loan store, salvation army or anyother type of establishments of that nature. You finally did Buffalo Wild Wings and Five Guys...oh wait, no you didn't...Chicago Ridge did. That area will still be trash. Just like 87th and Cicero and 95th and Pulaski (Longhorn Steakhouse doesn't save that area Heilman). If your going to do this Oak Lawn, do it right.
Clare July 15, 2011 at 05:43 PM
lots of luck, the venture will need it given all the empty retail spaces in the "new" development on 95th street. Oak Lawn has missed the boat on retail space years past when times were much better, so perhaps Dave Heilmann's hopes may come true. But please don't line the area with huge flower pots that obstruct the view of on- coming traffic so that no one will want to drive down there. Pulling out of Pot Belly's Parking lot, or Coldstone's, or out of Raymond is risky, downright dangerous at certain times because the big ugly grey pots block view of oncoming traffic in inside lane.. Has there ever been a referendum or even a public inquiry on those pots?--Every one I ever talked to hated them, mainly because they obstruct one's view of oncoming traffic.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) July 15, 2011 at 08:30 PM
I learned very quickly not to make a left hand turn on to 95th, SW and Cicero in Oak Lawn. I just keep turning right until I get to my destination. The drivers here scare the hell out of me.
Lefty July 15, 2011 at 09:26 PM
I always turn left. I don't like making right handed turns and I believe the right on red discriminates against lefty drivers. If I keep turning left, will I reach my destination?
Pat F July 16, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Lefty, don't know if you'll ever get there, but you will get one sore neck!! I'm hoping by getting this property, it will stop all the lawsuits and court appearances that are using our tax dollars..It just would have sounded a lot more impressive if the development was already in the hands of someone who can afford to start the project rather than in our hands..with our tax dollars??? Let's just hope someone steps up shortly and gets the ball rolling!!
Sam Wilson July 16, 2011 at 01:59 PM
I'm just happy to finally see the Village Board working together, instead of personally attacking one another. Andy, would you pass me a tissue...
Sam Wilson July 16, 2011 at 02:01 PM
To be a bit more serious, this is a good move for Oak Lawn and positions the village to be ready for when the real estate market does turn around. Each council member and the village manager should be commended.
ME July 16, 2011 at 02:44 PM
OAK LAWN GOVERNMENT: please put higher end stores and restaurants in that area. That's what Oak Lawn needs. If you put lower end stores in there, you will see what it will bring. Look at Chicago Ridge Mall with the Buffalo Wild Wings. All the late night riff raff from Brunswick Zone will hop over there in a minute. Please have higher end establishments. Oak Lawn is looking like trash lately. We need something better for this wonderful village.
JR July 16, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I agree with the other commenters who urge the development of higher end establishments at that location. I recall that Trader Joe's was mentioned as the type of store being targeted a few years ago when this project was first conceived. I hope they stick with those plans. Otherwise, this corner will remain largely unoccupied and underutilized. I have no problem with the village buying real estate in a depressed market as long as they can recover the purchase price when they flip the property to developers
Pat F July 16, 2011 at 06:52 PM
You have to love these people that want the higher end establishments! Especially Trader Joes which is run and owned by ALDI FOODS out of Germany!!
ME July 16, 2011 at 07:13 PM
So Pat, what would you like to see there? Are you saying you want lower end establishments? what are your picks for shops and restaurants there?
Pat F July 16, 2011 at 09:47 PM
As far as what goes there I really don't care as I have everything I need in my current section of Oak Lawn.....I just don't see the need for another commercial development when so much of what already exists is vacant??
Tori July 17, 2011 at 12:25 AM
personally, im excited. i've been waiting for that land to get a makeover. I remember seeing possible blueprints a few years back, the concept was great. I do hope they stick to the original ideas of putting some higher end stores, such as, Abercrombie, American Eagle, Gymboree, Gilly Hicks, Affliction, Express, even a JC Penny these are what most of our kids are sporting nowadays and it's really frustrating to have to drive them all the way to Orland Park or Oak Brook and give those communities our tax dollars. I too think that Trader Joes would be a nice addition, just NO reaturaunts, possablly an inside/outside lunch cafe, like Xando's in Hickory Hills. Just some of my opinions, but anything would be better than whats there now and don't forget the wishing well pond, water feature in the middle surrounded with cement seats & wooden bences with flower garden circling around. Would just Love
bad development July 17, 2011 at 02:26 AM
The developer puts up zero capital and we take all the risk. The village pays 90% of assessed value? You trust appraisals, and promise high end retaurants. Big Lar Big Tommy Phelan, retailers don't count the dead at the cenetery as part of their demographics. They will take your money, leverage you, and $aybe hit a fee in the process. Good luck with this pipedream.
bad development July 17, 2011 at 02:27 AM
The developer puts up zero capital and we take all the risk. The village pays 90% of assessed value? You trust appraisals, and promise high end retaurants. Big Lar Big Tommy Phelan, retailers don't count the dead at the cenetery as part of their demographics. They will take your money, leverage you, and $aybe hit a fee in the process. Good luck with this pipedream.
Carolyn Lanigan July 17, 2011 at 06:14 AM
We don't belong in real estate business. Residents voted down 95th St, but it was crammed down our throats because vote was non binding. We are losing tax dollars on that property. Only thing "blighted" is the muffler shop which could easily be remedied. Believe Harley Davidson might have stayed but knowing Oak Lawn's projection, has left. Dominick's could have done something with their store, but believe they are sitting on it waiting for big pay out from us. Who got the "grease" for negotiating our buying funeral home?
Oak Lawn Gal July 17, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Well it's a calculated gamble. Buying the property when prices are depressed is not a bad strategy. Getting quality businesses in there is just good business. But the real gamble is that the economy will turn around enough to get buyers into the stores. I like Trader Joe's too and would be there every week if they put one in at 111th. Tori had a good list. I also hate those flower pots!!! The one area that seems to be thriving on 95th is the mall by thr train station. It's 90% food-oriented but they seem to be doing good business.
Capital M July 17, 2011 at 04:11 PM
We agree. No more banks. No more medical centers. No more cash for gold. No more italian restaurants. No more cell phone stores. No more crappy fast food restaurants that barely stay open a year. We have plenty of these types of establishments already. We need higher end stores and restaurants so we can stop driving to Orland. Please please please. Make this a desirable area to live in!!
patty cake-patty cake July 21, 2011 at 03:20 PM
"The village has already chosen a developer, Chicago-based Hamilton Partners." House Speaker Michael Madigan says he follows a personal code of conduct to avoid conflicts of interest. Even so, some clients of his private law firm have benefited from his public actions. January 21, 2010| By David Kidwell, John Chase and Ray Gibson, TRIBUNE REPORTERS and Tribune reporter Ray Long contributed to this report. They also acknowledge the new ramps will give an economic boost to the area, which includes properties owned or managed by two Madigan clients -- Stonegate Properties Inc. --and Hamilton Partners. The two firms, which had executives on the task force that pushed for the interchange project, --have been Madigan & Getzendanner clients for nearly a decade. The firm represents them on other properties. Ron Lunt, co-founder of Hamilton Partners, said he speaks with Madigan at least once a year when the speaker calls him up looking for more legal work. He said they don't talk about state business. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-01-21/news/1001200799_1_public-records-private-clients-ethics
RobertS July 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM
I really don't like the idea of Oak Lawn playing real estate developer; but what choice do the residents have? Oak Lawn has too many commercial properties available and too many foreclosures, but there is one key element that is keeping the prospects of economic prosperity away—Section 8s! Do you really think higher-end stores are gonna invest in Oak Lawn when they look at the demographics?! Look where higher end stores invest... The majority of people I grew up with in Oak Lawn have left, they have gone to Oak Lawn South (New Lenox, Frankfort) and Naperville and so have the businesses that once made the community viable. Something does need to be done with that property without a doubt, but there needs to be some research done first to see what the local demographic is (I think we already know it!) and where the village is headed. I never thought Oak Lawn would be in the position it is today, never.
Ron Williams July 25, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Here is an opportunity to really help this community and it's future, done correctly it may very well be a turning point for a struggling suburb trying to establish an identity. Done poorly and it may very well lead to the further erosion of a once vital suburb. I grew up in Blue Island, back then we thought Oak Lawn was what we now see in vibrant communities such as Orland, Frankfort etc.... So be wise in the decisions you make Oak Lawn Leaders, our future has been entrusted to you our elected officials. Please do not waste this opportunity to serve your selves and a select few to gain personally, use this opportunity to make us proud to be a part of Oak Lawn again.
P Roberts October 10, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Wow, have any of you seen the new and improved Oak Lawn real estate taxes? If a merchant were dumb enough to buy in the places that have been discussed, I certainly would not visit his establishment based on poor judgement on his part for one thing .Seems no effort is being made to keep the neighborhoods stable. So, we're becomming just another south side suburb with impossible taxes.and debts. in excess to any benefits. Oh goodie! Should potential buyers watch just one board meeting they would run for the hills. Sorry, but Oak Lawn is all chiefs and no Indians.
RobertS October 11, 2011 at 01:40 AM
P Roberts: I think many—if not all of us were sickened by our reassessment and then our real estate tax bill, given how our property values dropped and the taxes increased, it was absurd! When I look at Tinley, Orland, New Lenox, etc., at least they have a thriving business zone, Oak Lawn's main business zone, 95th Street, has a ridiculous amount of vacancies and I see now that the old Saturn dealership is vacant again. The idea of "Build it and they will come" is old school...lets get what we have filled before creating more unwanted storefronts!
P Roberts October 11, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Seems to me Mr Heilman was told on public TV to stay out of village business by our village "leader" with no real evident responsibility other than picking up a pay check, "Mr.I'm in charge Village manager, who claimes to "run" the village. You get the credit, you get the blame is how that works.

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