| Forest Park
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Shop till you drop, It's only Monopoly money!
During the first Claderone Administration, 1999-2003, the Village bought up property and lots of it. Below is a list of some of those properties.
Back in February 0f 2004 when 12 Village employees were laid off, many people started asking:
Whatever happened to the reserve funds the Village had? Perhaps this property buying spree is one answer.
Parking, parking, Who needs parking continued?
Would you pay $22,625.00 and wait 10 years to get a parking space?
In October 2000, the Village bought the house and lot at 415 Beloit Avenue for $230,000.00 then seemed to forget about it.
415 Beloit Sales Contract
A year and a half later the dormant, tax-exempt property finally comes up in a discussion.
From: Council considers a new business district - The new Madison Street business district would allow for more state and federal grants and loans to influence the retail mix.
By Karen W. Loughlin Contributor FPR 5/15/02
The first of two public hearings regarding the approval of a downtown business
district was held on Monday evening at village hall…..
…..Adequate parking is a major consideration in the village, according to resident Ed Olson, who addressed this when he asked if houses on Warren Street would be condemned for parking. Mayor Calderone explained that if an appropriate home is for sale, the village might buy it. He used a recently acquired home at 415 Beloit Ave. as an example. "The homeowner's real estate agent knocked on our door and asked if we wanted it," Calderone said. At some point, the house will be razed and an existing village parking lot will be extended. "I don't want anyone fearing that the government is going to come in with a wrecking ball because that's very unlikely," Calderone said…..
Little did anyone know at the time that the Mayor would eventually push to take peoples' homes for downtown parking by eminent domain in the fall of 2006.
After an additional seven months the house is demolished and replaced by gravel.
From: VILLAGE NOTES - Village approves new parking lots at Ferdinand, Beloit FPR 12/11/02
The village council voted unanimously to create parking lots at 416 Ferdinand and 415 Beloit, where a house owned by the village was recently demolished. The decision preceded some discussion by the council about the layout of the parking lot, which motorists will enter westbound from Beloit…..
Another 10 months goes by and the untaxed property comes up again.
From: Village withholds $50K from BFI for garbage strike
By Lorien Menhennett Managing Editor FPR 10/22/03
…..In addition to the Randolph lot, the council also added another unimproved lot at 415 Beloit to its parking rosters, though this lot will not be used until it is paved…..
And yet another 6 months.
From: Council OKs sandwich board signs on Madison - Ordinance requires yearly permit, signs to be no bigger than 10 square feet.
By Lorien Menhennett Managing Editor FPR 4/28/04
…..Beloit parking lot tabled
The council postponed deciding on whether to finish the parking lot at 415 Beloit until later in the construction season, after the commissioners come to a consensus on what to do with the village's parking fund. According to Director of Streets and Public Improvements Bob Kutak, finishing the gravel lot would cost about $132,000, not including alley reconstruction work. The village has applied for a grant for the alley work…..
Finally, 10 years after the initial purchase, grant money is found and the parking lot at 415 Beloit is paved and ready for service.
415 Beloit Now
The tally: 16 parking spaces at $22,625.00 each, not including 10 years of lost property tax revenue and demolition costs.
Mayor Calderone "Will continue to ensure the safety of our families." (2011)
Before purchasing the south-side police substation at 1000 Beloit, the first Calderone administration bought another would-be police facility in January 2001 at the corner of DesPlaines and Adams for $395,000,00.
The purchase was made up of two buildings, a story at 501 DesPlaines and an apartment building around the corner at 7602 - 08 Adams. For this study, we'll focus on the store at 501 DesPlaines which is next to Village Hall on the north.
The apartment building was left as rental units until recently. It should be noted that the Village hired Richard Gray, the one-time father-in-law of Commissioner Mark Hosty, to manage the rental units.
Photo from Cook County Assessor's website
Almost immediately, the 501 Building became an overpriced storeroom for the Police and Village Hall. It was to remain that way until an all out effort was made to finally convert it for use by the Police Department in late 2009.
Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?
During the spring of 2002 the Village Hall / Police complex underwent a major remodeling. In May 2002 we learned that part of the remodel included a large prefabricated trailer for expanding police services in the vacant lot just west of Village Hall.
From: Public Works begins landscaping projects – FPR 5/1/02
Submitted by Bill Heider and Bob Kutak, of the FP Public Works Department
…..Work continues on phase one of the modification of the police department. The back lot that was once 7630 Adams Street is being transformed into a base for the proposed prefabricated trailer that will house the detective bureau…..
From: Beautification of Village Hall continues – FPR 6/12/02
Submitted by John McGee of the Forest Park Public Works Department.
The Forest Park Public Works Department recently completed Phase I of the remodeling of the police station and the addition of the Prefabricated House Trailer that will house the Criminal Investigation Unit. The trailer is awaiting electrical power to be hooked up and telephone lines to be installed. In addition, new stairs have to be added and the bottom of the trailer has to be skirted and furniture moved in before it will become fully operational.
This act begs the question: Why get a trailer, that requires additional lights and heat when there is an empty building, already owned by the Village, right next door?
It's not until April of 2004 that somebody at Village Hall manages to connect the dots.
From: Council creates long-term parking fund - Commissioners are still working out details on how much money to put in fund, and whether to add money on a regular basis.
By Lorien Menhennett Managing Editor FPR 4/14/04
…..With a working surplus of about $90,000 for the 2004-2005 year, along with $321,000 from the sale of the Ark building, the council does have some money to work with. The problem is that many projects are competing for that money, and the council wants to build its reserves. For instance, repaving the lot at 415 Beloit is a $200,000 project that includes street and alley repair. There has been talk of rewiring 501 Desplaines Ave., the property adjacent to village hall, and using it to replace the detectives' portable trailer…..
It appears that the trailer, once utilized, was not a good idea. In addition, we later learn that it cost the taxpayers $800.00 per month to maintain it. Whatever the case, the nascent idea of moving the Police to the 501 store did not get the funding.
After an additional 5 years and $45,000.00 in trailer rent later, the thought of putting Police in 501 DesPlaines was revived.
Forest Park briefs 3/24/09 FPR
Police looking for new space
A vacant building attached to village hall on Desplaines Avenue could be renovated in the coming months to accommodate the police department. During a March 23 council meeting, members voted to have plans drawn up for 501 Desplaines that would create office space, evidence storage and interviewing rooms for the department's detectives.
Police Chief Jim Ryan said he hopes to get rid of the trailer parked behind village hall that the department has been using as office space for years. It would save the municipality $800 per month in rent, increase the amount of storage space and project a more professional image for the department, he said…..
….."The trailer really is an eyesore," Ryan said…..
From the 05/26/09 Village Council Meeting Minutes
Miraculously a $200,000.00 grant comes through.
From the 09.14.09 Village Council Meeting Minutes
Was it deferred maintenance or a feeding frenzy? Suddenly $200,000.00 was not enough money to renovate the 501 DesPlaines store for the Police. In a lengthy 60 minute, minutia filled Council debate which included the general contractor, it was learned that the original Village engineers of $180,000.00 to repair the building would now require an additional $180,000.00 of work to complete the job. Most of the additional money requested was approved.
There is no comprehensive way to edit the video from the 09.28.09 Village Council meeting so for humanitarian reasons we not be doing so. We are instead submitting a summary from the Forest Park Review
Commissioners accuse mayor of hoarding plan's details - Changes to renovation project could have been presented sooner, say Hoskins, Tellalian
By Josh Adams Editor FPR 9/29/2009
A series of proposed changes to the renovation of a vacant building at 501 Desplaines ignited a terse discussion between village council members Monday night, and the exchange focused on transparency and the centralization of power at village hall.
For months now, municipal officials have been planning to rehab the building immediately north of village hall so that detectives in the police department would have a little more elbow room…..Going into Monday's council meeting, the expansion was pegged at $185,317, all of which would have been covered by a $200,000 state grant.
However, that very grant seems to have expanded the scope of the project, according to Village Administrator Tim Gillian, and another $183,682 worth of improvements were requested…..
…..None of the proposed changes are particularly lavish. The most expensive list focused on the need for a new roof. Electrical work, additional furniture, new windows, and a steel staircase along the back of the property were also among the suggested improvements.
In fact, it was the very routine nature of the additional items that prompted commissioners Marty Tellalian and Rory Hoskins to balk. Much of what was on the lists should have been accounted for long ago, argued Tellalian, but because it wasn't, the council was now being asked to waive the bidding process in order to meet a November deadline for completing the renovation…..
…..Hoskins, meanwhile, suggested the mayor failed to share that information with members of the council, in particular Tellalian, who oversees public property. During a particularly snappish exchange with Calderone, Hoskins reminded the mayor of the "division of responsibilities" under the commission form of government…...
501 DesPlaines and 7602-08 Adams Now
In the end, the Police Chief was happy, the politicians were happy, the trailer rental people were happy, the contractors, roofers, electricians, plumbers, etc. were extremely happy and even the apartment manager was happy. And why not, the taxpayers of Forest Park were picking up the tab.
The Altenheim property - The Crown Jewel of Forest Park, Part 1
Here is a brief history from the Altenheim Website:
"Altenheim has been a mission driven, not-for-profit organization since it opened its doors to 75 seniors in 1885. However, life for the original residents was quite different than it is today. In 1885, each was assigned chores that would include meal preparation, gardening, grounds and housekeeping. Today, older adults give up chores when they move to Altenheim to enjoy the many amenities and services we offer."
When Altenheim started, land was important to maintain it's operations. As times changed, much of the land owned by Altenheim was no longer needed and in the summer of 2001, a decision was made to sell off the surplus.
After putting the property up for sale, the Forest Park Park District took an interest but turned it down citing a lack of funding and potential for revenue.
A short time later the Village of Forest Park took an interest in the Altenheim property.
From: A golden opportunity
FPR Editorial 8/29/01
One development issue an economic commission might take up is consideration of the Altenheim property, should it be put up for sale…..it seems pretty clear that the rest of their property is likely to be put on the market.
Should the village and/or park district get involved? Should they purchase the property? This is a golden opportunity to expand park space, but only if taxpayers agree. Are villagers willing to pay for expanded recreation options?....
…..Could the village purchase the land and recoup the cost by selling off some of the land for private development?
The village needs to consider carefully, but quickly, what is best for Forest Park's future. An opportunity like this won't come again.
Before long it was a done deal.
Village buys Altenheim site - Price tag set at $3.6 million
By Andrea Mankowski Managing Editor FPR 9/5/01
Seeking to control development of the largest piece of remaining open land in Forest Park, the village government has purchased the 14 acre Altenheim property on Madison Street. The site came at a price of $3.6 million and it remains unclear exactly how the village will finance the purchase. Also uncertain are potential uses of the property, although a mix of residential development and public use are contemplated…..
…..The seller of the property was listed on the purchase agreement as the German Old Peoples Home, a not-for-profit agency…..
…..It is yet unclear how the $3,650,000 bill will be paid. O'Shea said the village has moneyavailable in the general fund and in the reserve fund.
"We are pursuing different financing options," he said.
According to O'Shea, the village is also contemplating the use of alternative lease debt certificates, which work similar to an installment or payment plan over a 10, 15 or 20 year period….
…..O'Shea said this was an opportunity the village could not pass up. Village engineers are currently surveying the property to determine how much is viable to remain as park space and what is OK for development.
"It is far too soon to decide what exactly will be done," he said. "But there will never be this amount of green space available again."
Mayor Anthony Calderone was quoted in a press release from the village as saying, "The options for converting this land are many and range from residential development to the creation of parks for residents."
Multi-use land plans will be developed over the next few months. The village is expected to take full possession of the property in late October…..
Ordinance approving Altenheim purchase
With no other money to pay outright, the first Calderone administration chose to buy the Altenheim on time. The terms, 240 months at about $32,000.00 per month. When the note comes due in 2022 the total will be about $7,680,000.00 unless a good plan is created to defray the costs.
With this knowledge, we will periodically track the costs to the taxpayer with the Altenheim Taxpayer Cash Clock.
Did we get a good deal?
From: My naïve arrival
By John O’Donnell FPR 11/10/04
…..Everything looked so pleasant in town through my [rose colored] glasses. That is, until the village council bought a portion of the Altenheim property for $3.65 million and said they didn't know what they would do with it.
My rose glasses began to slip. How would the village pay for their impulse buy?.....I asked Mayor Calderone at a council meeting, "Did the village get an appraisal on Altenheim before buying it? He smiled and said, "Yes."
My second question was "Was the appraisal done by a professional?" He again smiled with a "Yes" and said, "If you would like to see it, I will get a copy sent to my office for you to read." After two weeks of calls by me, the mayor's aide called me, saying, "The appraisal copy is available to see." At the village office I was shown what appeared to a summary appraisal report. The copy presented did not identify the client and intended users by name, nor its intended use. Anyone with basic appraisal knowledge knows that data should be a minimum of its contents. I asked the aide if she was aware it was not a full appraisal. She replied that it was a mistake, and was requesting another copy.
After several weeks of fruitless calls, I attended another council meeting and asked the mayor, "Did the village hire an appraiser to appraise the Altenheim property before buying it?" Minus his smile the mayor answered, "No." I said, "Thank you, Mr. Mayor,? and left the podium. The room hushed. The mayor and village attorney were whispering. I felt I had brought closure; the council never ordered an appraisal. Then the mayor said, "You know, sometimes one word answers are used by people to make you look bad. That question you just heard was a loaded question." Calderone boasted: "The council and I do due diligence on all matters." My rose-colored glasses fell to the floor, shattered. He continued, "You know we can't tell the public every little thing ... we know what's going on! If you talk to a dozen appraisers, you get a dozen different answers."
Minus my glasses, I returned to the podium to answer the hot air he was spouting. I didn't get a chance; I was cut short with his comment: "You know we can debate this little stuff all night." I left the podium with my trust shattered.
My readers can complete my story. Was Calderone fibbing, or worse?
Till we meet again in my next column, "Take care of yourself you are one of a kind."
Our View (Editorial Forest Park Review 9/12/01)
The Village of Forest Park made the right move in purchasing the Altenheim property. Yes, $3.6 million is a lot of money, but an opportunity like this will never come again, and Forest Park badly needs more park space…..Now that the village has acquired the parcel, of course, the question remains what to do with it…..A number of decisions face the village council and Village Administrator Mall O'Shea, but they should not be made without considerable input from the citizens who will be the users of any new park facility.....
…..This is exciting stuff, never to be repeated. People should have a say in how this land is used…..
Now that we own it, what do we do with it? That's the $3,650,000.00 question.
Altenheim plans still under discussion - Village targeting 14-acre property for possible residential development, promising to set aside some of the land for recreation.
By Haydn Bush Managing Editor FPR 7/31/02
The Village of Forest Park is still in the midst of determining the best way to develop the Altenheim property on the village's west side, Mayor Anthony Calderone said this week…..
…..According to Calderone, the deal came with the caveat that none of the land be developed for commercial property. Calderone envisions that much of the land, possibly eight or nine acres, will be used to build residential housing, which would be done by a private developer.
"The village won't develop it," Calderone said…..
….."It is far too soon to decide what exactly will be done," O'Shea said at the time. "But there will never be this amount of green space available again."
Calderone said this week the village would like to set aside a good portion of the land for green space in one form or another, adding that such a move may not be within the village's finances at present.
"If we're able to afford it, part of it will be a park," Calderone said. The one part of the property that will probably be off-limits to development, Calderone said, is a picnic grove situated just inside the site's Madison Street entrance…..
….."The picnic grove will remain as is," Calderone said. For now, Calderone said, the village is working lo set up a process to get feedback from residents on how they would like to see the property developed, which could include town-hall style meetings at some point in the future. "Some type of public forum will be made," Calderone said.
Historical Society proposes museum at Altenheim Chapel
By Haydn Bush Managing Editor FPR 5/7/03
The Forest Park Historical Society has approached the Village of Forest Park with a proposal in turn an abandoned chapel on the village's Altenheim properly into a museum and cultural arts center.
Historical Society president Rich Vitton said in an interview this week that the site could potentially make an ideal home for the society's collection of exhibits, artifacts and other items of interest, which includes among other things, a tooth from a woolly mammoth found on the grounds of the Forest Home Cemetery. The Historical Society is requesting a 100 year lease of the building from the village.
The chapel, which was built as part of the original Altenheim development in the 1880s has been long vacant,…..
…..Vitton still has not scene the property from the inside, which is currently shuttered, but says he hopes to redevelope the property pending the village's approval, with help from volunteers…..
…..The village, as well as the Historical Society, would also have to come up with a way to pay for the proposal. The village is still working on its own efforts to redevelop the property, which it purchased for $3.6 million. Those plans could include reserving a significant portion of the property for open space, or developing the area residentially.
The Chapel at Altenheim Now
Well that was a non-starter, how about this?
Taxman eyes Altenheim and Abell-Howe - Preliminary proposal includes 450 units; mayor says he has received multiple proposals for the Altenheim property, but all are ‘speculative.’
BY Lorien Menhennet Managing Editor FPR 7/14/04
The Taxman Corporation and Focus Development submitted preliminary sketches for a 450-unit development on the Altenheim and Abell-Howe properties to Forest Park commissioners last month, according to REVIEW sources. They say Taxman and Focus have expressed interest in buying all of Altenheim from the village, with the exception of the picnic grove facing Madison Street, and then buying out Tom Poulos’ interest in the Abell-Howe and Ockerlund properties, just west of Altenheim.
Preliminary drawings obtained by the REVIEW show 304 condominium units spread across five different buildings, as well as 146 townhouse units. The buildings and town homes would be connected by what appear to be private streets, punctuated with landscaped rotundas. Van Buren would remain open, however, to allow access to the CTA. Along with a pool and gazebo, the drawing of the development also include several small parks and 979 parking spaces, 85 of them for visitors.
Tom Poulos said he did not feel it was “appropriate” to comment at this time; neither Taxman nor Focus returned calls requesting comment.
Mayor Anthony Calderone declined to comment on this specific proposal as well, saying that hardly a week goes by without getting a call from a developer interested in the Altenheim property. “I’ve looked at a number of developments, and I have a number of drawings,” he said Monday. “There is no ‘The Development’ at Altenheim.
“Everything is speculative,” he continued. “We have not taken any action to unspeculate any proposal. We’ve not entered into an agreement with anybody.”
While all plans may still be speculative, the village does have some restrictions on what can be built on the $3.6 million, 14-acre Altenheim property. Calderone said that according to the original sale agreement from September of 2001, the village cannot allow either industrial or commercial developments, though residential development is allowed, and has been considered a viable option ever since the village bought the property, according to REVIEW files.
The village also initially set up an Altenheim Steering Committee to develop recommendations on uses of the property, with the intention of holding several public meetings to get citizen input on the property as well. The steering committee, however, has been dormant for more than a year, and the public forums have yet to materialize.
Commissioner Patrick Doolin said the lack of public input would make it difficult for him to support any residential development of this scale. “My position was, and still remains, that I believe there’s a better use for that property, what I consider a public use,” he said. “But this [project] is not something I’m considering at this time.”
Commissioner Terry Steinbach said she was against high-density development on the site. “I’m not interested in high-density development for the south portion of the Altenheim property,” she said.
Commissioners Mark Hosty and Tim Gillian declined to comment, saying the matter involved a potential property sale.
A case of he said, he said.
Regardless of who said what, where, or when, this proposal was a nonstarter too.
Finally, the real deal.....?
YMCA eyes Altenheim - YMCA also considering other sites in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.
By Lorien Menhennet and Katharine Grayson FPR 10/13/04
Months after the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) rejected its request to expand its Marion Street headquarters, the Oak Park YMCA is seriously considering relocating to other locations, including the Altenheim parcel in Forest Park, Y officials said this week.
YMCA CEO Scott Gaalaas acknowledged that the Altenheim property is one of several properties being eyed by the Y, though the organization is also considering other sites in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, he said.
While the Altenheim property is being considered, Gaalaas said the Y has not narrowed its sights solely on that parcel.
“We’re looking at everything seriously,” he said. He declined to comment on whether the Y has already entered into discussions with elected officials from Forest Park, which owns the 6-acre property, located at Van Buren and Madison streets near Concordia Cemetery and the Altenheim retirement community. Forest Park village officials also declined to comment.
YMCA board member John Hubbuch is not on the board’s expansion committee, but said he is aware that the Altenheim site is under consideration.
“We’re looking at different options. That’s on our radar scope as far as [a property] that could support the YMCA,” he said. “It’s very amorphous right now and in the planning stages. It’s at the blue sky stage.”
The Altenheim property, which the village of Forest Park bought in 2001, sits across Van Buren Street from several industrial parcels. The Taxman Corporation, Focus Development and Antunovich & Associates have proposed a 200-unit condo and townhouse project for part of that industrial land, including the Abell-Howe Crane Co. and Ockerlund sites. That project is currently being reviewed by the Forest Park Plan Commission…..
End of part 1.
Coming soon: The Altenheim Property - The Crown Jewel of Forest Park, Part 2.
In this episode, we promise you phantom appraisals, dog parks and donut holes as the saga continues.