Pricier units go first, surprising developer

? Developer expects to break ground in early summer at kma's 6440 W. Roosevelt Rd. 54-unit condo building.

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Condominium sales over the weekend at Prairie Place, a 54-unit residential building planned for 6440 W. Roosevelt, surprised Kimberly Weiner, managing partner at Oak Park's kma Development Group.

They've sold 10 units thus far, all of which were the larger, two-bedroom condos, at or near the $283,000 price point, Weiner said. That reversed a trend she saw at another kma development in Oak Park.

Weiner structured Prairie Place around sales patterns from "The Ridgeland," the company's development at the corner of Ridgeland Avenue and South Boulevard, where smaller, cheaper units sold first.

Prairie Place is designed to offer affordable new construction within Oak Park, with prices for one-bedroom condos starting at $184,900, Weiner said. She's confident that market is still there, despite the weekend rush for larger units.

"I'm positive the smaller units will sell," Weiner said. "The price points are right there with first-time buyers."

The developer is obtaining permits, and plans to begin construction in early summer. Condos would be ready in spring 2006.

The 4-story building would offer first-floor parking with residences above. The 1-bedroom, 1-bedroom with den, and 2-bedroom units will be served by an exercise facility in the building.

Weiner acknowledged the unusual move to build a new residential-only condo building on Roosevelt, known more as a retail and strip-mall divider between Oak Park and its neighbors to the south.

"We're banking that the whole corridor is going to be developed. We're starting the process," Weiner said.

Roosevelt rehab

Two other developments may be taking shape on Roosevelt.

Sale of the Williams Awning Co. building, 6606 Roosevelt Rd., last month to Oak Park contractor and developer Jonathan Shack paves the way for another new project on the corridor.

Shack said Monday it was too early to comment on the project, but that the development would probably have some residential in it. He is in zoning talks with the Village of Oak Park and is working on a site plan.

Shack would not disclose the closing price on the property.

In November, a Chicago developer told WEDNESDAY JOURNAL he was working on assembling and developing 6537-49 Roosevelt Rd., on the Berwyn side. The developer said he hoped to benefit from being within a Berwyn Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, and that a project, though too early to comment on, would include a residential component.

Mike Chen, development director for the Village of Oak Park, told the JOURNAL in November that multifamily residential units would spur retail development, and that the buildings fit other goals outlined by the Farr report, a study commissioned by Oak Park and Berwyn in March 2003.

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 Farr report 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 setbacks, a difference that will need to be reconciled by the Oak Park village board.



Jonathan Shack wanted to buy the Williams Awning site, 6606 Roosevelt Rd., to house offices, a showroom and a workshop for custom furniture and cabinetry.

Shack, a 15-year contractor veteran and lifelong resident of Oak Park, recently formed a new business, Homescape, with Peter Korab, who is known for his work on Frank Lloyd Wright preservation and restoration work. The 18,750-square-foot Roosevelt Road space attracted the two, Shack said.

But when he looked at the former Williams site, it was, well, a shack.

Shack said it was "not savable," too deteriorated to operate out of. So, he and Korab found another site to lease at 745 Madison St. They hope to open there within a month.

Homescape will serve as general contractor for construction on the Roosevelt Road project.

Shack has owned and operated JCS Construction in Oak Park since 1989. Some of his projects include the nearly completed 1023 Erie St., and a design/build at 216 S. Grove.

The Roosevelt site represents the first time Shack has owned a property he's built.

?#34;Drew Carter

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