A new mixed-use building is planned for the fenced-off parking lot at the corner of South Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren Street.
The proposal by Community Builders, Inc., a non-profit real estate developer out of Boston, would include 37 mixed-income units – mainly one-bedroom and efficiency apartments, and ground-level retail.
The building would be constructed next to the commercial retail space currently occupied by Divine Consign, which announced in February that it is relocating to North Riverside.
Kirk Albinson, project manager with Community Builders, said in a telephone interview that the project is in its earliest stage and the group is "excited about working with the village and introducing this concept to the neighborhood."
A public meeting is planned to discuss the proposal at the Maze library branch, 845 S. Gunderson Ave, on Tuesday, May 29, at 7 p.m.
The public notice for that event notes the building will include "community retail and live-work units along the ground floor" that will "activate the corner while complementing the shops, restaurants, services and businesses already located on the block."
"The proposed transit-oriented development will predominantly focus on providing high-quality housing that is available to a range of incomes," the notice states.
Albinson tells Wednesday Journal, "The intent is to help strengthen that retail block."
Community Builders plans a number of studio apartments, one-bedroom units and a couple of two-bedroom units.
"Our focus is on the advantages of the transit-oriented development features with the Blue Line and walkability of the community, providing rents that appeal at a range of incomes with a strong focus on catering toward people in the workforce that live in Oak Park," Albinson said.
He emphasized that plans are still in the early stages, Community Builders envisions two live-work spaces on the ground floor and a commercial space at the corner of South Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren Street.
He noted that the building to the south, which currently is home to Divine Consign, is not part of the project and will stay as-is.
Albinson said it is too early to say how much the apartments would cost or the square footage of the units.
Albinson said that Community Builders is known for high-quality developments and "we expect to do nothing less at this site."
No definitive timeline has been established for the project, but Community Builders plans to go through the village government's development permitting process over the next 12 months.
"The goal would be to start the project sometime around mid-2019," he said.
Community Builders has constructed buildings in and around Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and areas in-between, Albinson said.
More information about the company is available at www.tcbinc.org.
Albinson described the company as mission-based with a "focus on helping revitalize communities and helping individuals achieve their true potential."
"How can we impact the built environment and help communities grow and be sustainable over the long term?" he said.
The property is owned by Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest. Walter Healy, president and CEO of Community Bank, said in an email that the property is under contract.
"I think it's a good thing for the south side of town," he said.
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