Property tours near for Oak Leaves building, up for auction
The five-story retail and office property known as the Oak Leaves building at 1140 W. Lake St. is up for auction Sept. 10. | Chris LaFortune~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 9:24AM
OAK PARK —
An Art-Deco style commercial building in downtown Oak Park might have a new owner by summer’s end.
The five-story retail and office property at 1140 W. Lake St., known as the Oak Leaves Building, is up for auction Sept. 10 after years of sitting in financial flux. The building has been deemed “worthy of preservation” by Oak Park’s Historic Preservation Commission.
According to a listing on auction.com, online bids for the 64,590-square-foot space begin at $800,000, less than a fifth of what Skokie-based retail developer Seymour Taxman paid in 2005 to acquire the property.
Foresite Realty agent Ryan Moore said the building was initially financed with mortgage-backed security debt and, after months of non-payment, went into foreclosure in 2010.
The lawsuit filed by a subsidiary of Miami Beach, Fla.-based LNR Partners said Taxman, who bought the building for $5.75 million, owed the lender $4.5 million.
Foresite Realty managed the property during the transition period and became its broker when an agreement between the borrower and lender could not be reached, Moore said.
Now back on the market, the building’s boutique office space would likely attract Lake Street property-owners looking to expand, as well as developers from outside the Midwest, he said.
“The auction process has a national pull,” said Moore. “I expect there to be multiple bidders.”
An architectural survey of downtown Oak Park updated in 2005 by the Historic Preservation Commission gave the Oak Leaves Building a ranking of “significant,” meaning the property was “important enough to warrant individual Oak Park Landmark designation.”
Constructed in 1929 with storefront alterations in 1936 and post-1975, the interior was later remodeled to be an annex for a nearby Marshall Field & Co. store.
“It is further recommended that, with respect to any future development or planning initiatives in Downtown Oak Park, every effort be made to preserve those buildings listed as ‘Significant,’” the survey states.
The Oak Leaves Building is 40 percent occupied, Moore said, noting that a Sprint retailer will soon vacate the property.
Space leased by the Pioneer Press/Oak Leaves from 1997 until October 2009, when it relocated to nearby 1010 W. Lake St., remains empty.
From an investor’s standpoint, Moore said, fewer tenants could be viewed as an added value, as a developer would potentially be able re-sell the space at a higher price if occupancy increases over time.
Foresite Realty hosts property tours of the Oak Leaves Building Aug. 27 and Sept. 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The two-day online auction closes at noon Sept. 12.