Skokie demolishes downtown building


The Village of Skokie recently demolished an 84-year-old building at Oakton and Lincoln avenues which formerly housed the Desiree restaurant and is hoping to attract a developer to build a mixed-use development on the site in Downtown Skokie.

The restaurant closed 5 years ago, and since then other retail spaces and second-floor offices also were and the property deteriorated with water damage, material removal and partial demolition of the second floor, according to the village.

The Village Board of Trustees approved the purchase of the properties at 5100-18 W. Oakton St. and 8000-08 N. Lincoln Ave. for $1,175,000 at its July 15 meeting. Village economic development coordinator Thomas Thompson said the property has been an eyesore for years and that the village wanted to use its expiring Downtown Tax Increment Financing District to purchase the building, demolish it and "start over."

The village board approved a $146,000 demolition contract with American Demolition Corporation at its Nov. 4 meeting.

The 22,500-square-foot property was occupied by a two-story terra cotta-clad corner building and a one-story brick building. The entire site is zoned CX Core Mixed-Use. The restaurant was a 1950s-style diner.

The site has been the subject of several redevelopment plans in the last decade. When the restaurant was purchased in 2003 by George Gazis and Demetrios Staveris, the plans were to develop it with a ground-floor commercial space and upper floors of parking and condominiums.

The owners also entertained an offer from a condominium developer 8 years ago to combine the site with other parcels to build a 10- to 12-story building. However, the plans fell through because of the recession and the downturn in the real estate market.

Thompson said that the village has been talking to several developers but that none of them have submitted plans to develop the property. He said that ideally the site would feature retail on the first floor and condominium or office spaces above it.

Thompson said that the site has environmental contamination issues from a small dry cleaning operation in one of the commercial spaces at the west end of the building. The property had elevated trichloroethene concentrations as well as asbestos.

A building at Oakton and Lincoln avenues that formerly housed the Desiree restaurant has been demolished by the Village of Skokie to make way for redevelopment.
(Photo by Mario Lekovic)