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A proposed development for 22 townhouses on a parking lot owned by the West Cook YMCA will be formally submitted to the village board on April 5.
And Oak Park developer John Schiess, principal of JCSD LLC, the firm proposing the development, will hold a public meeting on Tuesday April 8, at Oak Park Public Library to present the plan to the public.
West Cook YMCA Board President David Phelps says the YMCA was approached by the firm about year ago to purchase the property. The parking lot — bounded by Randolph Street, Wisconsin Avenue, Washington Boulevard and Home Avenue —provides space for 164 vehicles. Of those, 120 are rented to nearby residents.
The remaining parking spaces are used by staff and residents of the YMCA, Phelps said.
JCSD and the YMCA, he added, are still negotiating the purchase of the property. Phelps declined to elaborate on details.
A preliminary proposal sent to village planners includes adding a single-family residence at 317 Home to the development to provide street frontage to the proposed townhouses, Village Planner Craig Failor says. Cars will still access the townhouses through the adjacent alley.
The residence has an estimated market value of roughly $510,000, according to the Cook County Assessor's website.
Failor said that along with the residence, the footprint of the project is 48,900 square feet. Failor could not provide renderings of the project but said the two- and three-bedroom townhouses would have brick exteriors with cementitious panels. Failor could not give the square footage of the townhouses but said they would be three stories tall.
The proposal requests shutting down a portion of the alley that runs between the parking lot and the residence, Failor said, who added that the village is concerned about the impact the removal of the rented parking spaces will have on the neighborhood. But since it is a private deal, Failor said, "The village isn't involved in managing the parking."
"It's my understanding that John Schiess has identified other parking lots that may be available for parking — he will present that to the Plan Commission," Failor said.
Schiess said in an email response to questions that JCSD has agreed to relocate 24 spaces for YMCA parking but did not indicate where. JCSD also will work with the village to find off-street overnight parking spots and has already identified 53 spaces that may be available for rental.
Schiess noted in the email that purchase of the property is a "private transaction from one private entity to another," adding that "while we believe the burden of relocating the displaced parkers should not fall on the developer, JCSD LLC agrees to facilitate the village's efforts to find suitable off-street parking for local residents."
JCSD is asking for variances on setbacks to the property as well as requirements that the development include an open space component, such as a park.
The developer will offer "compensating benefits" to mitigate for the impact the variances will have on the neighborhood, such as improvement of alleys and providing pedestrian walkways to the townhouses from the public street, Failor said.
According to Phelps, he has little information about the proposal and has been working with JCSD primarily on the purchase of the land.
The lot, which is across the street and a block south from the West Cook YMCA at 255 S. Marion — nestled behind single-family homes and out of view from the streetscape, hence its nickname, the "Donut Hole" — was purchased about 20 years ago for potential programming purposes, according to Phelps.
"But we haven't used it for anything but rental parking for people in the neighborhood," he said. "We have to pay property taxes and income taxes on that revenue, and it's not our core business."
The YMCA, Phelps said, determined that it was unlikely to ever build anything on the property, such as a childcare facility, "because we would have to own the adjoining property. We don't envision long-term that the YMCA would be able to use that property."
Failor said that after the formal plan is submitted to the village at Monday's board meeting, the proposal will be forwarded to the Plan Commission, which is expected to discuss it at its meeting on May 1.
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