Developers eye three Roosevelt sites for condos

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By DREW CARTER

n  More residents would attract retailers, fit with study's goal to make the corridor more pedestrian-friendly.

A lot could be said about Roosevelt Road, but its being a great place to live probably wouldn't be one of them.
That may be about to change.

Three properties along the corridor, which forms the southern border to Oak Park, have been identified as possible sites for condominium development. None has gotten beyond the concept stage. But few would argue that new condos on Roosevelt could transform the complexion of the thoroughfare, and make real some of the goals established in a March 2003 character study of the corridor.

"We're slightly pioneering," said Kimberly Weiner of Oak Park-based kma Development Group, which is in the concept drawings and architectural renderings stage for a condo development at 6440 W. Roosevelt Road, former home to Gleason Dodge. The site is currently used as a hand car wash.

"But I think that Roosevelt Road is definitely going to be the next South Oak Park destination for retail and living," she said.

kma has a four-story building planned for the site, with first-floor parking and 54 residential units on the upper three floors. One-bedroom units, one-bedrooms with dens and two-bedroom units will be served by an exercise facility and a business/hospitality room.

Weiner said that pricing of units would be ready in December, and that they would be "very affordable for newly constructed, quality-built condos in Oak Park." The units would be similar to those at another kma Oak Park project, The Ridgeland, at South Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue, Weiner said.

Heading west, on the Berwyn side, Matt Voigt is eyeing a development of 6537-49 Roosevelt Road. Voigt's father owns Werco Automotive Supply, 6539 Roosevelt Road, which would relocate within the area to make room for a development.

Voigt said the deal was too early to comment on, but that it would include a residential element, and that it could receive incentives from being located within a Tax Increment Financing district.

The development would require an assemblage of properties, he said.

Voigt said his firm, Voigt Development, operates out of Chicago, and has done projects from West Palm Beach to San Diego. He uses a Skokie Post Office Box address and a La Grange-based AT&T Wireless number for the business, but said local sales offices at each project effectively become his office.

Across the street from FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, the former home to Williams Awning has been shuttered awhile, and owners have circulated a flyer selling the property on its aptness for condo
redevelopment, said Bill FitzGerald.

The idea of having more residents on the corridor would suit him just fine.

"I think it's kinda cool," FitzGerald said. "It's sort of surprising, but it makes sense."

That sense is found in the proximity to public transportation, and living in or near Oak Park, FitzGerald said.

Density would stimulate other growth, FitzGerald said, and new residents' proximity to Fitzgerald's and other things going on "is a good thing."

That opinion was shared by Doug Farr, of Farr Associates Architecture & Urban Design, which conducted a character study of the corridor.

WEDNESDAY JOURNAL previously reported that Farr suggested multi-family housing on Roosevelt Road.

He said that the two municipalities have different types of housing needs: Berwyn needs family-oriented housing, while Oak Park is in need of "empty-nester" housing.

Mike Chen, development director for Oak Park, said multifamily residential units would spur retail development, and that the buildings fit other goals outlined by the study.

For example, two sides of a 1.5-mile stretch is more retail space than could ever be supported by the market, Chen said. Residential-only buildings cut out available retail space.

The study pointed to ways to make the corridor more pedestrian-friendly, something needed to support retail, as shoppers have a greater incentive to walk farther if along the way there are other points of interest, Chen said.

Reducing the number of gas stations, or other businesses that require curb cuts also produces more on-street parking, he said.

But one element of the study?#34;that buildings should come to the sidewalk in order to present a consistent visual sense of a corridor?#34;is in conflict with Oak Park zoning ordinances, Chen said. Current zoning requires businesses to have set-backs, a difference that will need to be reconciled by the Oak Park village board.

Contact Drew Carter at dcarter@wjinc.com

 

Drew Carter/Wednesday Journal<br><br>Raze the shades? Williams Awning Co., which is "closed due to business problems," according to an outgoing message on its phone number, could join two other Roosevelt Road sites being developed into new condo buildings, expanding the market for retail in the corridor.</br>

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