Oak Park issues RFP for Madison site

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DARRYL CATER

 The Village of Oak Park today issued a request for proposals for development on the site of PM Smith Funeral Home at Madison Street and Highland Avenue.
The RFP comes after a controversy over the village's decision not to issue a request for proposals for a site at Harlem and Ontario.
"The Village has two options to redevelop public property - issue an RFP or negotiate with those who have made specific proposals," said Village President Joanne Trapani in a village press release last week. "Both options require public notice and provide ample opportunity for alternatives to be submitted, and for public review and discussion to occur. An RFP is an effective tool for getting developers to look at property that might otherwise go unnoticed."
Village redevelopment manager Jennifer Tammen, who handles Madison Street redevelopment for the corridor, said the village issued an RFP to spur ideas from developers on a site they might not otherwise notice.
"I think an RFP indicates a hope that the property will generate great ideas for a property that might go overlooked or undernoticed on people's radars," Tammen said. 
The one thing they do know is that they want parking on the site.
The village did not issue an RFP at Harlem and Ontario because they received an unsolicited proposal from Whiteco Residential development, Tammen said.
Just what the Madison development will look like, the village doesn't know. Tammen said the village is thinking retail, and is open to residential proposals.
While the village board is encouraging developers to be imaginative, Trapani said she is confident they will recognize the retail character of Madison Street and propose projects that will help keep that aspect of the area flourishing.
The lot is zoned for commercial uses.
"We definitely want to see something built in the private sector" on Madison, Tammen said. "Something that will create some energy, retail at the ground level that will add to the vibrancy of the corridor. We'll have to see what we get."
The village hopes both to seize on a recent influx of interest in development on Madison Street, and make up for parking losses that have resulted from new developments.
The RFP calls for a minimum of 200 public parking spaces, to make up  spaces for village permit-holders that were lost when CVS developed the lot at Ridgeland and Madison and when KFC-Pizza Hut was built on the former Earl Scheib property.
In addition to the public spaces, the developer will also be required to include the spaces required for the new development.
"It's definitely a good indication that the village board is recognizing public parking needs," Tammen said. "Certainly all over the village and especially in the Madison district.
The 27,000-plus-square-foot site at Madison Street and Highland Avenue includes the former P.M. Smith Funeral Home property, an adjacent village-run surface parking lot and a parking lot to the west across Highland Avenue that was purchased along with the funeral home in the spring.
Legal notices announcing the RFP will be published in both local and Chicago metropolitan newspapers and issued to developers. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 27.

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