Another developer could save history

Opinion

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Demolition by the village of the "historic" Hoppe condominium building on Harlem Avenue is now scheduled for the week of Jan. 24.

We are aware that a citizens' group filed an application to nominate the Hoppe Building to landmark status at the Jan. 13th Historic Preservation Commission meeting and that the HPC voted 6-2 in favor of considering this application and making a preliminary determination of eligibility in approximately 30 days. 

We are also aware that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency ("IHPA") was in Oak Park last week for the purpose of inspecting DTOP for possible designation as a historic district and will provide a preliminary report within two weeks.  We hope the village will delay the planned demolition of the Hoppe building until the HPC makes a preliminary determination of eligibility and until the IHPA issues its report. There is no need to rush the demolition as the public hearing for the Whiteco project has just begun and approval of the project is not assured. Even if approved, Whiteco's own schedule for development indicates a construction start of July leaving plenty of time for demolition later.  More importantly, if the Whiteco project is rejected by the Plan Commission, as happened two years ago, we hope that the village will prepare a meaningful Request for Proposal for development of the entire site including the Hoppe Building. It is conceivable that another developer might incorporate the building into a new project; demolishing it now would make that alternative impossible.   

Our concern goes beyond the Hoppe Building. This and other planned demolitions will significantly alter the character of our downtown and will likely affect the chance of ever having this area designated as a historic district. 

More than 20 buildings slated for demolition by the proposed Crandall Arambula

Master Plan for DTOP are listed in the HPC's updated 2003 DTOP Architectural Survey. This is the survey that was rescinded by the village board last year and removed from library shelves. 

We believe that the work of the Historic Preservation Commissioners should be respected by our elected officials and that the commissioners not only be allowed, but encouraged, to provide their input in guiding development policies that protect our history as specifically provided for in the Historic Preservation Ordinance.
Kathryn Jonas
Communications coordinator,
The New Leadership Party
Oak Park

 

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