Timeline delayed for Oak Park affordable housing complex

Developers waiting for word on low-income tax credits


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

The timeline to build an affordable housing complex in Oak Park has been pushed back, but the developers say that it will still get built on time.

For years, Chicago-based Interfaith Housing Development Corp. has been looking to reinvent the vacant Comcast cable television facility at 820 Madison St. They signed the final paperwork to buy the two-story property in December, and eventually plan to strip off its Dryvit façade, adding two extra floors to transform it into an apartment building.

The developers got a green light from elected officials in May 2011 and had until March 5 to apply for building permits. But the Oak Park village board gave Interfaith, and its partner the Oak Park Housing Authority, a six-month delay last week.

Interfaith didn't realize that they first needed to have their plans reviewed by Oak Park's building department, said Ed Solan, head of the Housing Authority. The village needs some extra time for its internal processes, and Interfaith already submitted its plans the day of the original deadline.

"Overall, this shouldn't delay the project," Solan said.

Meanwhile, the developers are still awaiting word on whether they'll receive the low-income housing tax credits needed from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. They failed in the competitive process the first time around last year, but hope they can get the $1.4 million each year for the next decade in tax credits critical to making the project come together.

Solan expects an announcement in the near future. He's unsure what the developers might do if they don't make the cut a second time around.

"We would have to take stock of where we are at that point. We're not even thinking of that right now," he said.

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unique from Oak Park  

Posted: April 25th, 2013 2:27 PM

I am an Oak Park Res., of 13 years, I worked hard as a Paitent Care Tech. taking care of dieing people in Hospice Care. Now that I am hurt from that job I am looked upon as a low life, WHY! I now need the low income housing that will be offered. It has not changed me as the person that my neibors know me to be I still value my home and yours. So dont be so quick to judge people, this to may be you some day without warnning!


Posted: March 12th, 2012 2:54 AM

Thank you John for bringing this issue up. Interfaith obviously have an agenda to keep developing, regardless of whether their development is right for Oak Park. But it's just shocking that there are no policies in placed, or even being formally considered, in regards to dealing with aggressive people, and possible threats. Seems like Interfaith will just invite anyone to living in the building without thinking about what may happen. Must be nice to play with Oak Park like it's someone elses toy

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 11:44 PM

The investigation of the death of a Oak Park Healthcare Center patient showed that it did not have a policy in place to deal with residents' physically aggressive behavior at the time of the attack. Interfaith, the developer of Madison Ave Housing Proposal, at the time OP approved, also did not have a policy for violent situations. The housing is for 52 singles, some with disabilities, some with prior drug problems, some with behavioral problems, etc. Not only was there no policy, but the only security will one resident acting floor (4 of them) manager to address problems normally done by security guards. Neighbors near the housing development (Comcast) building brought the issue up at the PlanCom meetings to no avail. Shouldn't OP have an ordinance for certified security personnel in these type facilities?

The dude  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 11:36 PM

Maybe we can import some 4 Corner Hustlers, or a few Vice Lords... everybody needs a place to sleep, and do their work, and I think Pope and Co. are setting up a perfect work place for people of all talents. Pope and Co. bring a whole new meaning to the term "diversity", and literally include "everyone". No need to point out the difference between hard working citizen or work working gangbanger, lets include them all so that they can say; "look at how inclusive I am!" Congratulations Pope!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 12:39 PM

DTOP Housing Project? Hypocrites! from OP, you are correct that it's a feel good project and if the people who want the pat on the back for making this happen should spend more time volunteering in lesser income neighborhoods. The reason Oak Park has infrastructure crumbling is it doesn't not offer Pope public mention and a pat on the back when it's fixed.

DTOP Housing Project? Hypocrites! from OP  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 8:45 AM

@Q: I pay high property taxes in OP which I expect should go towards making the Village safer, the schools better, and to maintain infrastructure. Well, the schools aren't better, the infrastructure is crumbling, and my family is less safe here. Building a housing project near my home won't do anything to improve that, and will likely worsen it. Apparently, someone thinks that it'll be a nice talking point on a brochure to have it a project in OP, so they are pushing it through. Very sad.


Posted: March 9th, 2012 11:21 PM

Seems like Madison is the petrie dish for the local government to try out all the bad ideas, and watch from a safe distance to see if it sinks or floats. Empty storefronts, failed beautification projects, beauty supply stores, and soon a house project... It's like a big practical jokes that's seriously unfunny. Can we demand that a village official live there, to reap all the illusionary benefits this "project" is suppose to give? My guess is they wouldn't live there if they were paid to.

OP rez  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 11:07 PM

Suzen, housing for people in need of special assistance is different from what is being proposed for the Comcast building... Surely you knew that? It's a historical FACT that concentrated low income housing projects have had a high level of failure, in the US, Europe... This whole proposal is mindless, and completely ignores Oak Park's successful strategy of integrating low income residents into the larger community through mixed income developments.

Suzen X Riley from Oak Park  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 4:54 PM

Sounds wonderful. Btw, there are already 4 other low income buildings in Oak Park.The Heritage House, the Oaks,Ryan Farrelly and Mills Tower. There is need for more though.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 4:41 PM

Q - yep, theoretically they could buy a house in OP for each single and save money. There is only a limited amount (5) units suitable for handicapped at start-up. Are HUD and Springfield see the high cost as wasteful. That's what we are waiting to hear!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 3:39 PM

DTOP Housing Project? Why would you be a racist? Are you Mexican and think the housing project is for Black's? Maybe you are Black and think Chinese are moving in. Maybe Korean, possibly White. Whatever your race, you aren't a racist. You may be a discriminator basing people on income levels. Do you discriminate against people who make less than you? Is that why you live in Oak Park, because you know it's expensive? Maybe everyone can move to Austin, and feel better about themselves.


Posted: March 9th, 2012 3:23 PM

DTOP - It's the same reason why there are no basketball courts north of Lake St.

DTOP Housing Project? Hypocrites! from OP  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 12:06 PM

Call me a racist, call me selfish, call me a NIMBY, call me whatever you like...but there is no rationale that's going to make me believe that putting a housing project in my neighborhood is a good idea that's safe for my family. If it's so great, then why not put it in DTOP or the FLW District?? Exactly. Hypocites.

Wanna be  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 10:56 AM

Its a matter of very successful campaigning. - Ask Gary Schwab, Milstein, Mullarkey, Jonas, Samuleson, etc.

Just Asking  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 7:04 AM

@muntz: Correction for your post: you stated that the residents would be "who live or work in Oak Park would qualify". That is not so and will never be so. Interfaith has admitted that they can't select who lives in the building. The people who will be selected are already on a list of people who have applied for this kind of housing. 51 single rooms with one adult and one child up to he age of 18. It would be cheaper to rent current open apts or buy condos in OP and better for residents.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 12:25 AM

If you're just getting educated on this topic, go to www.madisonprojectinfo.com for a history.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 11:41 PM

Wanna be, this is not a dream possibility of having an independent make it. It's a matter of very successful campaigning. Let the business owners who like to vote their friends in continue to do that. Just find an independent, and get a very well organized campaign going. The people voting for Pope will never spend their own money, so they are easy to out spend.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 11:38 PM

John Butch Murtagh, wouldn't it be less if the project costs 350 to 400 thousand a room, to buy a house in Berwyn for everyone? I really don't think the people who like to spend other people's money would ever spend their own money like that.

Wanna be  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 8:06 PM

Many have tried, only a handful were successful!! Ask John Troelstrip how easy it is to run as an independent candidate.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 5:38 PM

Ann Onymous - Great question? I don't knows the answer. Do we need new independent candidate? Yes. Where will the candidate's come from? Hopefully from amongst the 85% of registered Oak Park voters who did not bother to vote in the 2011 board elections.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 5:31 PM

Anne - there was a large list of reasons to oppose the Madison Housing, none of which was distain for the poor, disabled, etc. My most strident opposition is the cost of the housing. This is a 20M dollar project for "singles only." There will be 51 single rooms in the complex. The build cost for the project is $350,000 to $400,000 per room. OP generally ignored that fact since it was not the village's money. It was Uncle Sam's money, so who cares. I do - Fed money is my tax money! In a time when the state and Uncle Sam are cuts that affect people's livelihood and benefits, we all should care about wasted $'s.

paul from oak park  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 5:13 PM

I have often wondered what the original agreement was between the cable company and the village way back when. Was there a set timeline that the cable company had to commit to with the building in order to get the Oak Park cable franchise? Was the timeline kept? Where there other parts of the agreement that were never kept by the cable company? Knowing what I know now about our Village's inability to ask "partners" to live up to agreements, I wonder...


Posted: March 8th, 2012 3:40 PM

Some details of the original plan can be found here: http://oakpark.patch.com/articles/developers-outline-plans-for-comcast-building What about the requirements "People 18 and older who earn at or below $26,300 annually...and who live or work in Oak Park would qualify." How is that audited? Is this project going to be a drain on the school districts (Austin folks claiming their "nieces and nephews" under their OP address)? And has the parking issue been resolved? Cabrini Green was once nice


Posted: March 8th, 2012 2:10 PM

Anne, it's misleading of you to paint people against the project as selfish and unconcerned for low income residents. Like you said, you don't notice the income levels in the muti unit... And that's precisely the structure that has made Oak Park a success. Concentrating low income residents in 1 building has failed, as history has shown. I am all for integrating low income residents into our community, but I'm not for stuffing them in a concentrated low income building.smart planning vs mindless

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 1:58 PM

FYI: North Berwyn stops at the Eisenhower. You, North Berwyn Resident, are an impostor! North Oak Park gets the red bricks, South Oak Park gets the housing project, North Berwyn gets the gun shop.

North Berwyn Resident  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 1:49 PM

North Oak Park business districts get red bricks and all we get in our business district is housing projects...what a fair use of my tax dollars! South Oak Park gets screwed again.

OP Resident #264  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 10:22 AM

Anne - the majority in the area of the development is strongly against it. I'm only aware of a few, generally associated with a couple of OP congregations and many of whom live nowhere near the project, who support this. If you think this project is the same as other multi-unit housing then you are woefully uninformed on the proceedings thus far. Still, Ray loves it so the village will continue to find loopholes for Interfaith.

Anne from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 10:16 AM

I hope this project secures the needed funding. These comments, as usual, mostly reflect a strident minority who use labels to selfishly push a housing agenda of "concentrated affluence." This building will be no different than other multi-unit housing in Oak Park. My Wesley home is next door & behind multiunits, and frankly, I am unaware of residents' income levels, nor do I worry about it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 10:10 AM

How much do you pay for Pope's plans? Take the number of property owners in Oak Park and divide it into each project Pope is obsessed with and you can keep track of what you waste for keeping Pope in charge of your money.

Ann Onymous from Oak Pork  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 9:37 AM

I've been drifting in and out of these comment threads for months now. Everyone is mad. Everyone is fed up. Me too. Why the OP Board wants to turn OP and Madison into a slum ("affordable" housing, Walgreens sells liquor, Aldi, all we need is a few check cashing places and payday loan outlets!) is mystifying. Someone must have some motive I don't comprehend. BUT the most shocking thing is that will all of this boneheadness no one is trying to unseat these board members in any serious way.

Virginia Seuffert from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 6:40 AM

Just a few blocks away on the 100 and 200 blocks of Grove, we are having a rash of break ins. Does somebody care to tell me how this project will improve the neighborhood?

Reality Sets In from OP  

Posted: March 8th, 2012 5:31 AM

In the face of reality, another piece of the "Master Plan" falls apart. This is just another example of how clueless our Village Board is...other examples include Sertus, Capping the Ike, buying Westgate, brick pavers and heated sidewalks, the Madison street plan,...yes, everything they dream up is doomed to fail (or just be generally clueless), but waste more taxpayer dollars in the process!


Posted: March 7th, 2012 9:50 PM

Concentrated poverty! Seems like the village is in the mindset of trying to mirror the east side of Austin Blvd. I'm still shocked that this plan is going through (though not surprised). The way Pope works really baffles the mind, and not is a good way... Excessive spending on pretty sidewalks, when a vast amount of Oak Park infrastructure is falling apart, Injecting concentrated poverty, when history has proven it to be a failed model of helping the poor... What's next? Subsidizing thug"s ammo?

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 9:15 PM

parker, that site is way too big & too expensive for PD & D97. The building would have to be leveled. They need to be further east on Madison anyway.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 9:04 PM

Hi Q - the truth of the plans excuse is dubious. They have had the same architect throughout the process. I wonder if Building and Standard initiated the idea of an extension? My bet is that Interfaith does not want to spend drafting money for the final submission until they are sure their project is approved -- probably June. I think approval is unlikely. Hud made budget cuts this year and the state made slashes. Usually when funds are cut the number of housing projects are reduced rather than cuts across all projects. With the Interfaith Project having the highest build cost per room of the 40 or so applicants, I suspect Interfaith is in trouble.


Posted: March 7th, 2012 8:43 PM

And in the meantime the building looks worse than ever. I say either the current owner has to clean it up, repair the gash made in the side (pictured above) or it be razed, now. Speaking of looking like crap; the empty walgreen's corner retail spot is still vacant save the crap visible from the street. It looks horrible and is an unkempt storage room, cover the windows or clean the space up please.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 8:33 PM

You are right, Q. Figure an additional $1,000 added to your property tax bill when the trustees decide that a tax increase is the only real option they have to pay for red bricks, bluestone sidewalks, granite curbs, decorative benches and new planters. It's also a fact that the DTOP project means the Village will be unable to provide the funds desperately needed to repair the deteriorating infrastructure in our neighborhoods and other business districts.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 8:15 PM

Doesn't anyone consider the fact they didn't know they needed the plans to be approved by the building department? The must not have any experience in building since they don't know you have to get approved. Did they make the plans or did they hire an architect. The only thing that gets done for sure are brick streets. Pope needs more brick streets regardless of what they cost tax payers. He will raise taxes just to satisfy his need.

Steve Wasek from OP  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 8:12 PM

Laff-ordable Housing! Find out for yourself! Go to http://www.alacartoon.com/home/laff-ordable-housing Come on! This is great stuff!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 8:00 PM

Per Ed Solan - The Interfaith 2012 Funding Submission Results should be out soon. Solan says he's unsure what the developers might do if they don't make the cut a second time around. Fact is, Interfaith might not be the decided. A 2011 HUD policy change states that for the 2013 funding round projects with multiple funding denials can be dropped from further filing.


Posted: March 7th, 2012 7:05 PM

@ Parker I agree. It would make a horrible place for an SRO, however.

Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 6:52 PM

This site would make a great place for District 97 and the Park District of Oak Park to create an administrative campus for each entity.

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