The owner of the vacant site at Main Street and Chicago Avenue proposes to build a multi-use retail and office building where in snowier years the City has melted snow. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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If you build it, they will come,” or something like that, is what the City said to developers OMS, who purchased the property on the southeast corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue for development. Rather than allowing them to proceed with a plan to develop housing there, the City offered them $40,000 to cover the cost of a feasibility study and “other predevelopment costs” (which OMS estimates to be about $300,000) involved in developing office and retail space on the long-vacant corner.

A two-story retail/office development on the site was demolished in 2007 and was slated for development as a mixed-use commercial and residential building. The planned development, Mainstreet Station Condominiums, would have included ground-level retail and 71 residential units. However, after the owner failed to make timely payments on the loan, Cole Taylor Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit in late 2008. The property was then the subject of a $4.3 million foreclosure lawsuit filing by Cole Taylor Bank. In December 2010, Cole Taylor Bank sold the property to OMS for approximately $1.65 million.

The present proposal for the Main/Chicago site, according to City staff, is a 90,000 square foot mixed-use retail and office building. “Since acquiring the property in December 2010, OMS has engaged in predevelopment activities to work diligently to attract office tenants that range from health-care providers to technology-based companies to the property,” according to the City.

The City has used the vacant lot after large snow storms as a snow-melting site.