Big projects seldom turn out as planned, or on the original schedule.
So it shouldn't be a huge surprise that the Decatur Park District is stepping back from plans to develop housing in Chandler Park.
The condominium-style housing was a key piece of the district's long-term Nelson Park development plan.
The long-term plan did get a shot in the arm on Monday, when Gov. Pat Quinn announced funding for the construction of a new amphitheater for Nelson Park and a waste water retention project. Funds for the 500-seat amphitheater will come from the state and from a donation from the foundation of philanthropist Howard Buffett.
While that moves ahead, the housing project is on hold for the time being.
Last week the park district board indicated it was going to walk away from the only proposal is received, from DemirCo properties.
The difference was over housing density. Park officials had initially proposed 300 housing units in the park, while the DemirCo proposal focused on mixed-use development and included about 80 to 100 units.
Kara Demirjian Huss, president of DemirCo, said her company considered the housing density and other factors in developing their plan and decided to propose a different approach. She said the Decatur economy played a role, but wasn't the only issue.
``When we looked at it with our architects, it just wasn't the best plan that we felt was suited for us as a developer to develop,'' she said. ``If market conditions increase, could a development sustain more residential? Probably, but there were a lot of other factors the kind of went into play there with that; the market feasibility, the piece of property.''
It should be emphasized that no one is to blame. DemirCo had to devise a plan it thought would work and it didn't meet what the park district envisioned. It's better to slow down now than to proceed with a plan where one or both parties are going to be unhappy.
Park District Executive Director Bill Clevenger said the park district may ask for more proposals within the next year, with the hope that an improving Decatur economy will lead to more proposals. He said if the park district is unsuccessful in a second attempt, then it might be time to re-assess their approach. Park district officials had hoped that the residential plan, dubbed ``Chandler Park,'' would attract young professionals and would provide a revenue stream for other park developments.
That could still happen. Another request for proposals would make sense, but it the results are the similar then the district will have to reconsider its plan.