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OAK PARK, IL-One criticism of Whiteco Residential’s proposed 210-unit multifamily rental tower and retail project at Harlem and Ontario avenues has been the lack of competition against other development ideas. Two years after picking Whiteco Residential to develop the village-owned site, two competing proposals were generated in another request for proposals, with both of them getting rejected.

Holley Court Commercial Partners proposed a food-oriented mixed-use development, with a banquet hall and 12 restaurant, as well as 14,000 sf of retail and office space. It also included a 24,000-sf performing arts center and 18 residential units. Meanwhile, Berggren Realty Corp. pitched a 97-unit proposal with 10,000-sf of retail space.

Whiteco Residential’s latest $42-million plan includes ground-floor retail space including a Trader Joe’s grocery store, but it no longer includes a health club. While village trustees want a third party to provide a financial analysis of Whiteco Residential’s plan, which includes a hefty village subsidy, lack of financial details helped doom the two competitors.

“We carefully reviewed the items submitted as part of the alternative proposal process, but it was immediately apparent to the entire board that neither came even close to giving us anything of substance to compare to the Whiteco proposal,” says Trustee Gus Kostopulos.

Lack of time was no excuse, village officials say. The latest window for developers to put together a better plan was 10 weeks wise, they note.

“Any serious individual, partnership or company has had ample time to study the site, examine the Whiteco proposal, arrange financing and prepare the kind of documents that would have enabled the board to assess the viability of their concept,” says Village President Joanne E. Trapani. “But none did.”

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