Enough already with the high-rises

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Enough already! Even before there was a proposal for a 28-story high-rise on Lake Street the vast majority of Oak Parkers I've talked to were very unhappy with the glut of high-rise buildings in the last few years. This is a terrible idea, even if they are trying to get us to settle for something like 20 stories. Our village is being forever scarred by this rush to construction.

The other day, I was trying to arrange lunch with a friend and she would not go into Oak Park from Oak Park to Harlem because of the traffic. I know several people who will no longer drive on Lake Street. I'm already finding it difficult to get in and out of the library garage and as the downtown buildings become fully occupied, the traffic will be backed up even more.

The current high-rises going up are not yet completed and filled, so how can there be demand for more housing? What if this building is largely empty?

The great Unity Temple would be overwhelmed.

The claim that the high-rises would lower our taxes has not panned out at all.

We all chose to move to Oak Park, not Evanston. The Oak Park quality is being lost.

The "mayor" does not have a mandate. It's true that we elected him because he is a business person, but that was to try to keep the small businesses that were moving to Forest Park. If he had run on the platform of building high-rises, I know I would never have voted for him.

Please keep the building to 5 stories or so. In the next election, I will be voting for the VOICE candidates, who believe in government listening to the people.

Joyce Porter

Oak Park

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 4:11 PM

Unbelievable that people think renters do not pay property taxes. Of course they do, over half of the rent is just property tax being passed on from the building owner to the renters. That last rent increase was from property taxes. It always is. Property taxes here make rentals less affordable.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 2:20 PM

Seriously though, even renters have friends and families who visit, perhaps hire service providers (house cleaners, babysitters, home health aides) who drive and need a place to park their cars. Even if the residents don't own cars, there will be others who visit them who drive their cars - - and I hope you don't expect everyone's 80+ year old grandparents to just park in the garage two or three blocks away. ALSO, the money that angers many people in these transactions are the INCENTIVES that VOP pays to the developers to sweeten the deal. Yet we're always hearing how OP is so desirable - so let's quit paying developers to come here.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 11:23 AM

"Traffic" and "parking" are silly arguments for not moving forward and developing DTOP., which is already well-served by public transit. As someone pointed out in a different post not too long ago, we're talking about a cluster of high-rises in the downtown area only, the vast geography of Oak Park is and remains suburban/residential. As one who lives in the DTOP area, I'm all for this--I just think we need to do so without giving away the store to deep-pocketed developers.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 11:17 AM

@ Adrian - you are right it is quite simple. If you have 2-4 kids in school system you are costing $60k a year in resources and not contributing nearly that to system. There is no value judgement and I would do the same if I were in the same situation. IF the net additions to community are apartments some (not all) of thios occurs - and if it happens enough frequency, it will have an impact.

Adrian Rohrer  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 10:50 AM

No naivety here. The question quite simply is whether these luxury rental buildings bring in enough in property taxes to offset the costs the taxing bodies such as the Village and the School Bard incur in having to service the extra population. While I think the argument that these buildings will lower the property tax burden is severely overplayed by the pro-development camp, I've never seen anything concrete that suggests the building's residents add to the tax burden either. In other words, everything I've seen suggests the property taxes paid on these buildings at a minimum cover the added cost burden the residents generate to the Village. That leaves whether adding 5 to 7% is pushing the Village's infrastructure beyond capacity. I'd argue it's not, and I feel the parking and extra traffic concerns are often overplayed as well. Sure, there's more traffic on Lake now, but I disagree with the idea that we're facing serious gridlock, and a lot of the extra car volume could be reduced by embracing the idea of TOD more and not requiring these places to add in more parking (which in turn often just induces vehicle demand). I'm sure you disagree.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 10:10 AM

Adrian ... $2500 a month is what some us us pay in taxes and don't be naive. No issue with it and people are smart to do it ?"-

Adrian Rohrer  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 9:05 AM

Back in grad school, I was a renter in Oak Park, and I always hated the argument that I supposedly "didn't pay property taxes." A 2 bedroom apartment in Vantage starts at $2,500. The market rent rate includes the property taxes the building pays. I'm all for making sure these sorts of buildings DO NOT get property tax breaks from the Village itself, but the renters aren't simply people looking to bring families in and skirt property taxes in my mind. In fact, for what these renters are paying, most of them could purchase a starter 3 bed/1 bath home, even with property taxes figured in. People that chose to rent in a luxury building choose to do so for a variety of reasons (I'd be many do so because they don't plan to be here long term), but the "free rider" argument is simply off base IMHO.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: November 21st, 2018 7:18 AM

The growth of high rises is simple - plenty of demand from people who want to send kids to great schools without having to pay high taxes or invest in house couple with few strategic options to avoid raising taxes. The other question is when you ad 5-7% population to Oak Park, what is the infrastructure and school plan to address?? Just take a drive around lake street these days ... not a good experience.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 20th, 2018 10:58 PM

How many quality jobs for local tradespeople do these new buildings create? Lots. Good union jobs too. Investment does that. Big empty surface lots were a blight, drive less, walk more.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: November 20th, 2018 6:42 PM

there is a neighborhood meeting at 7 p.m. Monday Nov. 26 at the 19th Century Club if anyone is interested.

Les Golden  

Posted: November 20th, 2018 6:35 PM

The bird deaths from flying into the new library are nothing compared to the hundreds killed every week smashing into the windows in the high rises from Forest to Harlem. Those result from the Potterville-ization of Oak Park thanks to soon-to-be-out-of-office Abu-Taleb and his developer friends. Tens of thousands of carcasses rotting along the Lake St. corridor will be Abu-Taleb's legacy to our village and our planet.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 20th, 2018 5:14 PM

Well said, Joyce.

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