Public space built in grand Avenue plan

Architect John Schiess plans to tear down existing buildings, reuse facade elements on new structure.

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Developer Alex Troyanovsky will assemble as many as five properties to create a public/private courtyard surrounded by mixed-use buildings at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and South Boulevard, John Schiess, the project's architect, said Friday.

The courtyard would allow for restaurants to spill onto the space with outdoor summer dining, and would be conceptually based on European public spaces, the architect said.

"We want it to be a civic kind of space," Schiess said. "We want to make it real lively."

Giving up "developable" space in the project does a number of things for the development, Schiess said. It generates energy around the property that will serve as a marketing tool for the new building and drive development nearby while making a community statement.

"It's the right thing to do from a planning standpoint," Schiess said.

The courtyard and building's main facade would face west onto Oak Park Avenue. Schiess plans first-floor retail with condominiums above. He would not say how high the buildings might rise, but said the Crandall Arambula plan calls for six stories on South Boulevard, and he's "looked at" that recommendation.

Schiess plans to release sketches of the project later this month after meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission, where he'll try to get a sense of appropriate height for the project. He'll also ask the commission for advice on which parts of the existing buildings might be considered historically significant. Schiess plans to tear down the existing buildings but use parts of the existing facades on the new building.

South Blvd. building might join

The commercial building at 715-17 South Blvd. could be added to the project, Schiess said. That building is owned by George Schneider, who turned down an offer from Troyanovsky in December for the building.

Schiess said another person is purchasing a package of properties from Schneider, and that Troyanovsky has bid on the South Boulevard parcel. Schiess would not say who the third party buyer is.

Schneider did not respond to requests for an interview.

"We're going ahead with the development with or without that piece," Schiess said. "It would be nice, but we're going ahead regardless."

The building abuts the David A. Noyes & Co. building, 721 South Blvd., to the east, already part of the project, as are the corner Thyme & Honey building and the next building south on Oak Park Avenue, now used as a coin laundry.

The would-be fifth building is the Vivaldi building, 144 S. Oak Park Ave. Schiess said it is not included in the designs he'll present to the Historic Preservation Commission, but that there are provisions to include the Vivaldi parcel if the landlord decides to sell.

More projects coming

Schiess and Troyanovsky, under the Oak Park Development Group moniker, are working on multiple projects in Oak Park.

A six-story mixed-use building is planned for 827 W. Madison St., with 75 condominiums sitting atop 6,000 square feet of retail and below-grade indoor heated parking.

Construction starts June 1 on the seven-story mixed-use condo building at 150 N. Marion St. (Bank One parking lot) to be known as "The Regency Club." It will also offer indoor parking, 4,800 square feet of retail and 84 residential units.

And Schiess plans to complete the square on the Madison Square Townhomes, 1020 W. Madison St., with 10 new town homes where Consolidated Auto Services now sits. Consolidated's window facade features a lineup of aftermarket alloy wheels.

Schiess designs the buildings and shepherds projects through the planned development process, while Troyanovsky remains the unseen primary financial stakeholder.

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