WOODLAWN — Despite approving a developer’s plans to raze and redevelop the 95-year-old Washington Park National Bank building early this year, the Cook County Land Bank still owns the long-vacant building.
But Land Bank Executive Director Rob Rose said the agency aims to finalize a sale before 2020 to make way for developer DL3 Realty’s plan to build ground-floor retail and a bank, a YWCA and co-working space on the property.
Rose said DL3 is still tying up loose ends for the $250,000 sale.
“They’ve secured the financing, but there’s a lot of legal work, paperwork and structure they need to put in place,” Rose said.
It’s been nearly nine months since the Land Bank approved developer DL3 Realty’s proposal to demolish the building at 6300 S. Cottage Grove Ave. and replace it with a mixed-use development.
Leon Walker, managing partner of DL3 Realty, could not be reached for comment despite multiple requests. The developer has kept the Land Bank updated on its progress, Rose said.
Walker said in July that a $3 million loan from investment fund Benefit Chicago would go toward DL3’s operating costs as the company laid the groundwork for projects like the bank redevelopment.
Rose said the plans for the space, which upset preservationists hoping to save at least some of the building, haven’t changed.
The proposed redevelopment is “in line with the community’s desires” as reflected in a July 2018 report on Woodlawn residents’ needs and goals, Rose said.
The pending sale and redevelopment efforts hit “at the heart at the core of what the Land Bank does,” he said. “With this intervention, we’re able to bring a high quality project to the community — a project that the community deserves.”
He estimated the project would take three to four years to complete once a sale is finalized, but nailing down a specific timeline is a “crapshoot” at this point.
The property, which sits adjacent to the Cottage Grove Green Line terminal, has been unoccupied for nearly 30 years.
By the time the land bank purchased the building in 2017, it had accumulated about $3.7 million in unpaid taxes, scaring off other potential buyers, Rose said in March.
The 95-year-old building is in “pretty rough shape” from its years of vacancy, Rose said. It’s stable enough not to collapse, but the roof is damaged, the basement floods and the city required scaffolding to be installed after bricks fell from the facade, he said.
“It’s been in bad shape for a while; it’s hard for it to get into any worse shape,” Rose said.
DL3 Realty’s approved proposal was the only one of the three “finalists” that would have demolished the building. It was listed on nonprofit Preservation Chicago’s 2016 list of the city’s most “endangered” buildings.
The Land Bank’s April 2018 structural assessment report found “the existing framing system of the building is structurally sound, intact, and still in good condition.”
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