The Park District of La Grange has hired a real estate consultant — a former park district board member — to help navigate the potential sale of a nearly three-acre piece of Gordon Park.
Bradley Belcaster was hired to help with negotiations with potential buyers, Board President Mary Ellen Penicook said. Belcaster filled a vacancy on the board in 2010, serving until 2011.
"There has been interest over the last couple of years from various developers to purchase the property," Penicook said. One particular developer has shown heightened interest recently, she said, declining to name the developer.
The board voted in June to retain Belcaster at a rate of $175 per hour, according to meeting minutes.
The parcel is located in the 17-acre park's northwest corner, not far from the intersection of La Grange Road and Ogden Avenue. The Park District first announced plans to sell the property in 2007, drawing legal challenges from La Grange Friends of the Parks.
Circuit court and appellate court judges sided with the Park District, and then the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the case in January of this year, ending opportunities for the group to appeal.
Minneapolis-based Opus Development Company is planning to build a retail and residential complex next to the parcel, at the former Rich Port YMCA site. Park District officials are concerned the sale process could become more complicated with the development moving in, Penicook said.
"(Belcaster) is very familiar with the situation, with the property, with the local market," she said.
The Park District's contract with Belcaster, of Belcaster Realty Group, sets a cap of $1,000 per day for his services. The contract extends 180 days from June 16, the date the board approved it.
The District planned to sell the property for about $3 million to an Atlanta-based developer in 2009. The developer wanted to buy the Park District land along with the adjacent YMCA property and build a residential and commercial complex that would span the properties. That deal fell through as the economy slumped.
Opus agreed in the fall of 2013 to pay about $9 million for the 4.3-acre property next door and is in talks with the La Grange Plan Commission over project details. The developers have said they want to build a 278-unit residential complex with a retail component and estimate the project will cost at least $65 million.
The appellate court judges order requires the Park District to get three appraisals of the property and to sell it for not less than an average of the three amounts, Penicook said.
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