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Article updated: 7/16/2013 5:30 AM

Senior living facility builder withdraws from Bolander Park purchase

By Mick Zawislak

The selected bidder for the Bolander Park property in Libertyville has dropped out and talks will proceed with other interested parties for the 5.27-acre site on Winchester Road.

Three weeks ago, the village board accepted a letter of intent from Pathway Senior Living LLC and directed the staff to prepare a real estate contract for the asking price of $2.05 million. But the developer of senior living communities withdrew before that happened, and village officials will go to Plan B.

"Pathway, after the board's approval, sent our broker a letter saying they have reconsidered the letter of intent based on a recent interest rate increase," Village Administrator Kevin Bowens said.

In Lake County, Pathway operates the Oak Hills supportive living facility in Round Lake Beach and Victory Centre in Vernon Hills. The Des Plaines-based company also operates in several other suburbs and had intended to develop the Bolander property at 625 W. Winchester Road as an assisted senior living facility.

Pathway officials declined to comment.

"It was surprising this one dropped out as quickly as they did after they told us they were interested," Mayor Terry Weppler said. Even after a contract is signed, there is a contingency period for a prospective buyer to drop out, he added.

Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator, said interest rates may have been a factor, but she thought there was more to it.

"I just think it was a corporate decision not to proceed," she said. "We continue to have interest in it. We've had a number of strong offers."

Pathway was chosen from among five offers for the property. Three of those, including Pathway, met the village's asking price. Four of the five involved senior living facilities and one was a townhouse proposal.

"I wouldn't rule out anybody at this point, but two of the others were substantially below our asking price," Bowens said.

Bolander includes a ranch-style building used as the parks administration office, a hockey/roller rink, maintenance/storage building and open space. However, only a handful of employees work there and village officials decided it was underused and would cost too much in repairs to be worth keeping.

It has been on the market since last fall, as one of three available parks properties. The other two are the driving range and family entertainment center at the Libertyville Sports Complex.

Bolander is zoned for institutional uses, such as museums and libraries, but uses such as senior housing and residential care facilities are allowed as a special use. Townhomes would require a zoning change.

"I don't think we'd be averse to townhouses, either," Weppler said. "That area is appropriate for transit-oriented development, which is what townhouses are."

Rowe said there is little available land in town for residential or senior-oriented developments.

"It's disappointing," she said of Pathway's decision, "but I think it's a quality site and we'll find another quality user."

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