Oak Park village board to vote on Madison apartment plan

Plan commission recommends rejecting the development

July 31st, 2020 6:28 PM

By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The proposal to build a five-story apartment building at 435 to 451 Madison St. will go to a vote at an Oak Park village board meeting Monday, Aug. 3. Applicant Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group (MAREG) has made further revisions to the building's design since its last plan commission hearing.

The developer failed to secure backing for the project from the plan commission back on March 5, due to the proposed building's mass and height.

The proposal comes with substantial zoning change requests, including an increase in density from the maximum allowed 24 living units to 42. MAREG originally requested relief for 48 units but changed it to 42 after its final plan commission meeting. MAREG has also requested an increase in height from the maximum of 50 feet to 63.

"The massing of the proposed structure is too large, too tall and too close to residential properties and a residential neighborhood to the South and East," reads the commission's report to the village board.

For these reasons, neighbors staunchly oppose the apartment complex as well and have from the beginning. In addition to its size, the proposed apartment complex's close proximity to the Gunderson Historic District also caused consternation among commissioners and neighbors.

During its first plan commission hearing on Jan. 9, MAREG was directed to make considerable changes to the building's design. When the project returned to the plan commission on March 5, MAREG received criticism from the commission and neighbors for not altering the height or size in its redesign. Instead, MAREG used what was described as "optical illusions" to make the building look smaller.

"You guys have kind of tried to dance us by putting some doodads on it, trying to make it appear to be smaller," said Jim Polaski during citizen testimony. "I'm a fat guy – that's like telling me to wear dark clothes and don't use horizontal stripes."

The building's last round of design revisions, which MAREG will present to the village board on Monday, includes a reduced number of indoor parking spots from 49 to 43. The final redesign also has a 7-foot landscape buffer in the 14-foot side yard. MAREG has also opted to make an additional contribution of $50,000 to the Oak Park Affordable Housing Fund on top of the $500,000 MAREG had already opted to pay under the inclusionary housing ordinance.


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