What will motorists do while their car is charging?

The Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) was established with the aim of attracting developers to distressed properties to stimulate redevelopment and stabilize otherwise marginal communities. It was therefore a surprise two weeks ago to learn that items on the agenda of the CCLBA’s Land Transactions Committee on March 4 included consideration of the sale of a property in Oak Park. Oak Park needs stabilization?

It may be the commercial district of Roosevelt Road that needs outside help; in this case, it’s 6401 Roosevelt Road, a vacant lot long occupied by an auto service station. The Cook County Land Bank Authority acquired the deed from the previous owner, SA REO Fund 900 LLC in September 2018. Two months prior to the acquisition, the CCLBA provided a $5,000 loan to SA REO, which the county treasurer’s records reveal had paid no taxes. on the property since 2012. That amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to local tax districts, including the village, and the county still provided a loan to SA REO. Since the CCLBA obtained the deed, the property is tax exempt. On March 4, the CCLBA was considering an offer to sell 6401 Roosevelt Road for $115,000.

It may be an enticing offer, combined with an admirable use: a parking lot to charge electric vehicles. This is the kind of use that corresponds to “Oak Park values”. But is 6401 Roosevelt Road a viable location for a start-up company? Who would be the customers and what would these customers do during the hours needed to charge their electric vehicles? There is nothing to do and nowhere to go along this part of Roosevelt Road that would keep the customer busy for a long time. Ahead of its time, does building a charging station there mean that enough customers will come to support the business for the foreseeable future?

It’s not the fault of the buyer and the proposed business, but failure shouldn’t be an option for them. The lack of significant effort by the Village and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation to attract and retain businesses along Roosevelt Road may not be enough to sustain a good idea any time soon. The potential buyer may want to reconsider their business plan and offer to the CCLBA. Or are they waiting for other support from the village?

Chris Donovan
Oak Park

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