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An Oak Park restaurateur plans to buy the old Circle Theatre building at 7300 Madison St. in Forest Park and redevelop the second and third floors as residential apartment units following passage a of zoning variance by the Forest Park village council on Monday.
Peter Skiouris, who currently owns Giordano's Pizza and Petersen's Ice Cream on Chicago Avenue in Oak Park, presented plans to the Zoning Board of Appeals, Feb. 19, for a gutting and reconfiguring of the 1925 building's two upper floors as residential units.
As of 2006, any residential unit in the Forest Park Downtown Business District (DBD) zone must be a minimum of 800 square feet, according to current code. In the Madison and Marengo building, the existing residential units on the upper floors include five 300-square-foot SROs (single room occupancy) with a common bathroom and 19 other small apartments. The apartments have been vacant since Circle Theatre moved out in July 2010.
Skiouris proposes a total gut and reconfiguration that lowers the total number of residential rental units to 20, but according to plans submitted to the village, two studio apartments would have a footprint of 492 square feet. The plan also calls for several one-bedroom apartments with a minimum of 550 square feet. One proposed two-bedroom unit would be 749 square feet and a second one with 932 square feet.
Forest Park Village Administrator Tim Gillian said the 800-square-foot zoning rule was developed in 2006, "around the same time as the Madison Commons development."
"Nobody considered at the time what would happen if older existing buildings became vacant," Gillian said.
The property is currently held by US Bank, which ended up with it after Forest Park developer Art Sundry Jr. failed to develop it into apartments in 2007. Skiouris is scheduled to close on the parcel on Thursday.
The building has no parking, but the ZBA pointed out that parking crowding might be even worse if he developed the upstairs units into office space.
Skiouris has developed the Petersen's building at 1100 Chicago Ave. with residential apartments above the first floor. He has also was part of a team that developed 1088 Madison Street in Oak Park, the former home of Al's Grill.
According to plans submitted, the new units will include hardwood floors, maple kitchen cabinets, granite kitchen counters and a washer/dryer in each unit.
"He is planning high-end finishes on these units. It will really be an improvement to what was there," said Gillian.