Townhouse plan for YMCA site makes public bow

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Developers wanting to build 22 townhouses on a parking lot near the West Cook YMCA took their proposal to the public, Monday, but while many residents were happy to see a better use for the site, some were cautious about the parking shortage it would create.

John Schiess, of JCSD LLC, said the development team, which consists of himself, Rob Palley and Mike Streit, aims to build the townhouses on the property bounded by Randolph Street, Wisconsin Avenue, Washington Boulevard and Home Avenue. The property is currently owned by the YMCA and used as a parking lot capable of holding 164 vehicles, most of which are rented to area neighbors.

Schiess said the three-story townhouses would stand 40 feet tall and include 44 parking spaces, reducing the number of cars coming and going from the lot, which must be accessed through an adjacent alley.

Some neighbors voiced concern that the removal of the lot would put residents on the streets or with nowhere to park.

Paula Halfin, who works for a company that owns rental properties in the neighborhood, said renters from her building nearby rent 24 spaces on the lot.

"I feel like [Schiess] didn't care where people parked," she said, noting that with two parking spaces for each townhouse, there would not be enough room for visitors, which would put more cars on the street.

"You can't park on Randolph overnight because there's a lot of signage," she said. "He's only concerned about his development. He's not concerned about whether or not they have visitors."

Neighbor Maryanne Mohanraj acknowledged that parking would be stretched tight but added that a development would be better than a parking lot.

"It's going to make parking harder for the people in the neighborhood; that is an ongoing issue," she said. "But for me as a homeowner, it's probably going to raise the property value. My kids run through that alley, so I think it's going to make it a little bit safer having less traffic there. I think in the long term it will be good for us.

"Generally, it seems like a well-conceived project, and a parking lot is an underutilization of the space."

Schiess said he has been working with the village parking services manager and identified 53 privately-owned parking spaces that could potentially be used by those currently parking in the lot, but he declined to give details, saying he is still in discussion with the owners.

Schiess has said that although he wants to work with the village to help solve the issue, ultimately the development is a private deal, and he is not responsible for the parking problem in the area. He told the roughly 50 residents who attended the meeting that he is seeking variances, which would require a public process, but the development team could build a 45-foot-tall, 64-unit rental building with 96 parking spots without permission from the village.

"The property will be developed to its highest and best use," he said.

Schiess wants to complete the $8 million development in late 2014 or early 2015. The townhomes, which will cost roughly $500,000, will generate a combined $250,000 in real estate taxes annually for the village, he said. 

Resident Leslie Lauderdale said she is concerned that financing could fall through on the project.

"My concern with any development in the area is there has been a tremendous amount of development that started and did not complete in a timely fashion," she said.

Schiess told residents that the development is well capitalized and financing is secure.

While she likes the sketches Schiess showed at the meeting, Lauderdale said the project was architecturally underwhelming. 

"We live in Oak Park, which is an area with great history and unique architecture, and we're putting a whole lot of money on a project that at its best is inoffensive," she said.


Reader Comments

13 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy


Posted: April 26th, 2014 8:45 AM

I've lived in townhouses in other towns. One of my first questions each time I considered renting was about parking - not just for me but for visitors as well. Seems to me the lack of visitor parking is likely to diminish the marketability of these units. Think about what it will be like if the visitor is leaving after dark or in bad weather - or both with small children in tow.

Frustrated from Oak Park  

Posted: April 25th, 2014 7:25 PM

I am so disappointed in this. What a horrible use of the lot. If anything, put in a parking garage. The developer has been trying to force neighbors out, too.


Posted: April 21st, 2014 11:59 AM

The units all have automatic sprinklers. The developer said OPFD policy is no fire trucks in the alley.

Ken C. from Oak Park  

Posted: April 21st, 2014 9:39 AM

What does the Fire Dept. say about the project?


Posted: April 18th, 2014 6:45 PM

The theory seems to be that these $500,000, streetless homes which require you to walk down an alley to get to your front door will sell because they are "new construction."

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: April 18th, 2014 2:27 PM

So there are people out there who will spend over $11,000 a year in property taxes for a townhouse with no streetfront access and limited parking which may be blocks away from their home? Where are these people?


Posted: April 18th, 2014 1:10 PM

Developing an area that has no street front is irresponsible. The Y should have made improvements to this land as a parking lot and continued to be a good neighbor.

Delightful from Oak park   

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:51 PM

John is concerned about nobody but john. He has proven this numerous times throughout this village. Can we please not give him ANY allowances &,let him do this private deal privately?!?! Let him work within the law & not try to find a work around. His past work arounds haven't worked. As for parking. It's all ridiculous. He has tapped into the private home owners along Marion who can rent spaces. That's were he's getting his "inside" spaces. Parking Rent pays mortgage & bills. Simple as that.

Jeff from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 4:54 PM

John is a smart guy, but even he has to realize you can't fit 165 cars into 53 parking spaces.

paula from oak park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 4:22 PM

this is a bad idea again instead of building more homes that could remain vacant for who knows how long at 500,00+ the village should think about the people who live there already and the parking situation at hand whre are these 164 people suppose to park????


Posted: April 16th, 2014 12:51 PM

There is alley on all 4 sides with no direct access to a real street. The alleys that service Home and Wisconsin. Then if you look on Google there are mini-alleys behind the building on Randolph and the buildings on Washington (they connect only to the Home/Wisconsin alleys). Even as a pedestrian, you'd have to walk down the alleys to get to the one courtyard entrance. Those alleys will be named unofficially. The address will be Home, I believe, but it's fictional since nothing connects.


Posted: April 16th, 2014 11:13 AM

Looking at the drawing provided in the article, it would seem that there will be and entrance/exit, i.e. driveway, to the townhomes in the middle of the block on both Home and Wisconsin Avenues. Can someone with knowledge of this project confirm if this is an accurate interpretation of the drawing? If true, I am curious how a driveway can be inserted into the middle of the this residential block and what the potential impact of this may be on the adjacent homes as well as the street itself.

paul from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 9:54 AM

He's back...

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2017

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad