Cooper’s Hawk building under construction in Oak Lawn

By Steve Metsch

The next piece of Oak Lawn’s Stoney Creek Promenade is being built — construction started this week on a Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant.

It is the second big name that’s part of the upscale retail development planned for the northwest corner of 111th Street and Cicero Avenue in Oak Lawn. The first, Mariano’s grocery store, set sales records in its first day of business, officials have said.

Mayor Sandra Bury, village manager Larry Deetjen and several trustees spoke highly of the restaurant during Tuesday night’s village board meeting.

Trustee Mike Carberry, 6th, said the development “is going to go down as a successful deal for Oak Lawn.”

“Not long ago, there were a few cars and a lot of seagulls out there,” he said of the site that formerly was home to a Kmart, a shuttered Dominick’s grocery store and other retailers like a muffler shop, hair salon, restaurant, and chiropractic office.

Carberry praised the project in response to criticism of the deal by Trustee Bob Streit, 3rd, who fears the village will end up losing money or not make as much as expected when it’s all said and done.

“You should embrace it. You’re a lone guy with this deal. It’s going to be a winner for Oak Lawn. Get behind it,” Carberry told Streit.

That was after Streit engaged in a heated debate with Bury and village finance director Brian Hanigan about the financial implications of the village entering into a deal with Hamilton Partners regarding the former Edgar Funeral Home, just north of the site.

Streit was the only trustee to vote against the proposal, saying that not enough other bids had been considered.

“I have a lot of concerns that we’re going to take a bath on this,” Streit said.

Several times, he and Bury raised their voices when talking with one another.

“This infuriates me,” Bury said of Streit’s opposition. “This went to 40 national investors. We had five bids. Of those, we asked the top two for their best offer and they did that.”

Deetjen said the deal will have Hamilton spending $1.4 million on the site of the former funeral home.

“There has been very, very strong interest” from possible tenants. The building could be 90 to 100 percent occupied by the spring,” Deetjen said.

At the Cooper’s Hawk site on Wednesday, workers were busy with earth-moving machines, prepping the land for eventual construction of a 10,000-square-foot restaurant that will face 111th Street, just west of a planned retention pond.

Earlier this year, Bury said “Cooper’s Hawk is fantastic for Oak Lawn, and it’s going to draw people.”

That’s been the case so far with Mariano’s, she noted Tuesday after the board meeting.

The Cooper’s Hawk in Oak Lawn will be the 19th restaurant for the chain that is based in Countryside. Lemont-based Englewood Construction has been hired to build the restaurant.

In a news release, Englewood CEO Bill DiSanto said he is “excited to finally be working with Cooper’s Hawk,” and added that the Oak Lawn restaurant will not resemble the chain’s other restaurants. Aria Architects, based in Oak Park, designed the building.

The restaurant is slated to open in March, the news release said.

Earlier this year, Ronald Dee, senior vice president of real estate development for the chain said that “many people from the Oak Lawn area over the years have come to Orland Park and said, ‘We’d really love you to be in Oak Lawn.’ ”

“(The village) offered us a great site, and we’re going out in front of a brand-new Mariano’s supermarket. We’ve been very impressed with Mariano’s as they’ve rolled out in Chicago. It’s a brand we would like to be associated with,” Dee said earlier this year. It’s expected that 100 to 150 jobs will be created at the Oak Lawn restaurant, Dee said.