As Oak Park trustees listen, vote on Comcast housing plan nears

Final vote next week. With questions, trustees offer some insights into opinions

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

An affordable housing development that's been in the works for years was expected to get approved or rejected by the Oak Park village board on Monday. But trustees held off on making their decision, as they'll devote all of next week's meeting to debating the pros and cons.

A Chicago developer is hoping to buy the long vacant building at 820 Madison St., just west of Oak Park Avenue. There, Interfaith Housing Development Corp. plans to strip off the building's Dryvit façade, gut the inside and add two extra floors. The changes would turn the former Comcast facility into a 51-unit apartment building for low-income singles.

But first Interfaith needs the go-ahead from village trustees, after the Oak Park Plan Commission already gave its blessing in March (the proposal requires eight variances from village zoning laws).

Loath to hold a meeting that stretched all the way till 5 a.m., said Village President David Pope, the board held off on having a discussion until next week. Trustees spent a couple of hours hearing a presentation from the developer, along with comments from neighbors for and against the project. Then the board members made a lengthy list of questions they want answered by staff and the developer in the coming days.

Doug McMeyer, of the 400 block of South Grove, urged trustees to approve a "floorboard" saying that at least 80 percent of residents would live or work in Oak Park. Interfaith has said the majority of tenants would fit into those categories, but has declined to be nailed down to a certain percentage.

McMeyer also asked the board to consider installing a cul-de-sac on Grove north of Madison to add more parking and decrease traffic on the residential block. Patricia O'Shea told the board she believes the development would create racial segregation because it would only be open to people who earn $26,300 or less.

"Communities around the country are working to get away from this type of model," she said.

On the other side, supporters argued that the development would lead to economic integration, as the median income in the area is about $86,000.

"The Comcast building will make the neighborhood around it integrated, not segregated," said Jane Beckett, a 25-year Oak Park resident.

Trustees mostly posed questions to the developers, which they asked Interfaith to respond to in writing before next week's meeting. But the village board did give some glimpses into their persuasions.

Pope, along with Trustee Colette Lueck, said the "core issue" in front of them is whether the apartment building will, in fact, create segregation in the south Oak Park neighborhood. And if it doesn't, then how do you define concentrated poverty, Pope asked.

"Where the plan commission landed on this issue is that this is not segregating, it is supporting people within a greater context that supports their overall well-being," Lueck said. "We may land there or we may not, but that's clearly where the plan commission landed."

Trustee Ray Johnson pointed to a letter from the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, arguing the same thing as Beckett — that the building's tenants earn much less than the median income of the neighborhood. He believes the housing center did "the best job" of "responsibly" answering the question.

Lueck questioned why the development would only target people who live or work in Oak Park, and she bristled at opponents who have compared the project to Chicago Housing Authority high-rises.

"I really found the discussions on tenant profile extremely disturbing and extremely problematic," she said.

Johnson agreed.

"The way some have characterized this proposal, I think, has isolated people who live here in some ways. They've built up their own wall in regards to how they have viewed this project," he said. "I don't think we should ever lose sight that there has been powerful testimony on the pro side, and very respectful comments from many of those opposed to the project as well. There's just a small percentage of people who have talked about this project in such a negative way that they've created their own stereotype."

Trustee Adam Salzman expressed worries that the commercial space on the ground floor may stay vacant for a long time.

"I would really hate to see a vacancy of that size on Madison Street," he said.

Reader Comments

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Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:29 PM

T minus 1 Hr. Maybe it will be the very seller- Comcast who finances the project. Wow... full circle I'd say.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:04 PM

What's got you so worked, Epic? Please make your point without describing someone who holds an opposing position as,"illiterate", "crying",""cannot be honest" and "full of crap". This forum works when there is an open exchange of ideas, facts and opinions. Bullying tactics serve no purpose. I do appreciate that you have strong views on this subject but hope you are willing to express your position in a more respectful manner.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 5:05 PM

epic, there was a proposed private development of high-end condos/retail just a few years ago on the lot directly across the street from Comcast. The neighbors fought very hard against the high density of the project and the potential traffic issues. Was that social engineering too? Do you have anything to say to support the Interfaith proposal or do you just try and promote it by attacking those who question it?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:39 PM

epic, It is not a private citizen's role to promote the sale of vacant property in the village. The Comcast vacated the building in late 2008 --- not many years ago. The village did little or nothing to promote the sale of the property probably because Comcast and Interfaith had already made a deal. There is loads of evidence to support that statement. So, Comcast has been idle because of the developer. Epic, If you find any due diligence that justifies this development, please pass it along.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:37 PM

And to piggy back on what "Oak Parker" said and to underscore my point, if the project was completely financed by a deep pockets individual, and didn't need any variances, you people would STILL be against it. You people would still be trying to use the government to assert your own brand of social engineering. So just cut the crap, ok?

epic lulz  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:33 PM

Of course it's a private development. Exxon gets tax credits -- are they not a private corp? In any case, again for the illiterate and irrational, I'm not challenging the notion that the project is a case of social engineering nor that it receives federal incentives. I'm challenging the notion that the opponents of the project are taking a stand in favor of the free market and against social engineering. YOU ARE NOT. That you cannot be honest about your own motivations speaks volumes.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:31 PM

Its a private development with public financing. There will be limitations and certain criteria becasue of the funding source. Any wealthy person (developer) could build this building and let poor people live there if they chose.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:17 PM

This is not a private development. The fact that it requires tax credits to be built makes it a public development. The fact that Joe Anyone can't walk up and live there if he has the rent makes it a socially engineered public development. I'll add a socially engineered public develoment that flies in the face of the vision for Oak Park of residents of all races, religions, and income levels living side by side.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:06 PM

As far as all the people crying about the tax credits, there are various funds that specialize in investing in such developments. Presumably Interfaith is partnering with one or more of these funds. If you want to get on the action, invest in one of these funds. It's the least you can do since, although you haven't bothered to lift a hand to develop that empty property for years, now feel it is your right to tell others what they can or cannot do with it.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:00 PM

@Chris Koertge, I'm not painting you as anything, except perhaps as an illiterate. I'll repeat again for those who require several readings before they get it: those who pretend that they are opposing the project because they are pro-free market and anti-social engineering are the exact opposite. You are indeed the ones who are trying to use the gvmt to stop a private development and engineer your own version of what OP society should look like. Stop BSing around and just admit it.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 3:35 PM

@Jim - that's just it - Interfaith claims they can't begin to solicit funding partners until they have the approval from the board for the variances so they won't be able to provide specific responses to that question. This is one of several areas where we've heard intentions, not commitments, from the applicant. Same thing w/ the local preference on the application. "Trust me" is just not how good business is done.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 3:02 PM

Thanks, Chris. Let's hope the "money men" represent a group of local investors. Trustee Brewer believes we have a right to know who will profit from the development. Full disclosure or no deal.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 2:17 PM

Oak Parker: Earlier you mentioned "markets finding their own balance." This project - a govt funded building with a cap on resident income - by its very nature is not being developed in the free market. You can't have it both ways. Philosophically I think when there's govt money being handed out it's reasonable to impose restrictions.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 2:09 PM

@Jim - Corporations put out the money up front, then get their money back over time via the tax credits. It SHOULDN'T matter who specifically, I suppose, but you and I certainly don't get an opportunity to buy tax credits. It's all big corporate investors. Exxon was mentioned in an early meeting as a frequent partner in such ventures. Do we REALLY love our oil companies that much? Or is the oil industry hurting badly in this era of nearly $5.00 per gallon gas?

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:57 PM

New people to Oak Park are fine with me. People from all over move here every day. I think it will be nice to give Oak Park workers and current residents preference, but its not a game changer for me. The whole point is to open up affordable housing to people who might not afford it otherwise. I dont think Oak Park can have a monopoly as to who lives where within its boundaries. If you define it so specifically, you are then making it unwelcoming for some.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:52 PM

@Jim: Oak Park Housing Authority (different from Center) deals with housing for the elderly and disabled and administers the Section 8 voucher program that (wait for it...) integrates low-income people into Oak Park. This high-density, all low-income project for single adults is different from the other buildings and programs that OPHA administers.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:47 PM

John, I think that is the same question Trustee Brewer expects to be answered this evening. We've heard about the tax credits this project offers but no mention of who will be receiving the benefits.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:42 PM

Trustees Brewer and Luecke both raised questions about the screening process. Why are prospective tenants for this particular apartment building being treated differently? Why is the Housing Center's list not applicable for the project?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:27 PM

I find it incomprehensible that anyone would say that money is not an issue in this develo. There is $15-20m involved. The argument posed by the developer is that the Comcast Bldg will be back on the OP Tax roles, but only 1-4% more than the empty building. And that grand annual sum last 40 years. The board is treating Interfaith as a private business in its zoning variances but allows the developer to move ahead without a dollar in financing. Who makes money in the proect. Not OP, Who????

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:04 PM

@ Oak Parker: Yes, the issues that Mary Ellen raised were mentioned at the board meeting, but there was no determination about what the standards will be. Many questions were raised last week, and I thought it was a good meeting. Now it's time for answers. Among other things, these eligibility issues must be specifically defined.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:39 PM

My guess is that the developer saw an opportunity that met their criteria for their project. This particular site is close to work and transportation. Two important factors for the residents that will be living there. I'm sure the Village Board will ask many questions and get many answers. I am confident in those we elected to make the right choice and vote YES for this project.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:39 PM

Mary, Some of these issues were discussed in the developer's presentation last Monday night. I would suggest you view the Village board meeting and gather some info. It will be a real eye opener. I dont think this project is about putting working people in a wealthy area of Oak Park. Neither do I think the Village ever intentionally puts more upscale or expensive developments in not so wealthy areas of town. I think the markets find their own balance.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 10:40 AM

high-density, low-income housing project in an area of moderate household income improves economic diversity for either project residents or the surrounding community. Rather, it could have the opposite effect. Perhaps the Board will explain all this in making their decision.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 10:36 AM

If the Board approves the project and doesn't address eligibility issues, the developers will have carte blanche on admission requirements. That means, who knows. Will admission decisions be public information? As to the economic diversity question, what data will the Board be using. Is there a detailed household income map of Oak Park. If so, can we see it online? It's my impression that the area surrounding the proposed project is moderate income, not affluent. I'm not certain how putting a

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 10:07 AM

I would think Oak Park isnt looking at this as helping anyone's bottom line. I think Oak Park, rightfully so, is looking at helping those with less means. Federal dollars are used everyday to fund and subsidize projects like this around the country. Oak Park will be doing the right thing. When speaking on income alone, Oak Park has other buildings that have income requirements. This will be no different from that perspective.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 9:40 AM

@Oak Parker: The project is funded on tax credits for large corporations, who in turn invest for the tax loophole. Is our community really that interested in helping big businesses bottom line? And who pays for tax credits? Every tax payer in America. I support a building that would be a melting pot of Oak Parkers. This building would be all low income, not mixed income as is the standard here and elsewhere, and potentially without controls ensuring that Oak Parkers are given priority.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 9:33 AM

I'm not sure the V OP is getting any govt money. Oak Park is an inclusive community and we tend to bring people together and not apart. I suppose this building will be a melting pot of Oak Parkers. Compassion for all is better than compassion for none( or some)

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 7:12 AM

Just heard on cnbc, the us government runs 4 billion into the negative every day. How about if Oak Park takes a real leadership role and stop asking for government handouts and start being more responsible.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:07 AM

The problem I have with oak park is that they over think every problem and issue. Common sense will tell you grouping this many people with so many different problems is going to end badly. There needs to be a better plan, village board please, stop using this project for free govenment money.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:43 AM

That is a tough one becasue it depends on what context side by side means? Some could interpret side by side to mean the building. While others might interpret that to mean unit by unit. I know there are buildings in Oak Park that have mostly studios or one bedrooms only. The building East of Ridgeland on Chicago Ave on the North side of street. I would bet most of the units are all similar in rent. I don't see segregation being an issue where it shouldnt pass becasue of it.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:51 AM

"Pope, along with Trustee Colette Lueck, said the "core issue" in front of them is whether the apartment building will, in fact, create segregation in the south Oak Park neighborhood?" Seems odd to raise a segregation issue. Wouldn't the issue be moot if the village stuck to supporting the Diversity Statement's goal that reads "the village must continue to support the Board's fair housing philosophy that has allowed us to live SIDE-by-SIDE and actively seek to foster unity in our community."

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:04 AM

I hope so Jim. We must not leave anyone out. Onward and upward. I think it really depends on the developers out there. This Comcast project was not born from the V O P. I think there has to be a good marriage between developer and Village priorities. When there is a need, fill it. Oak Park seems to do that well.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 11:44 PM

The discussion and debate has been interesting and informative. I'm stil not clear on why housing needs are not addressed on a priority basis. If not with this development;is there another project on the horizon that provides new housing opportunities for seniors, persons with disabilities and the working poor?

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 11:34 PM

Oak Park was filled with people on Sat both for the FLW House walk as well as the Art Festival on Harrison street. I think this affordable housing project will make Oak Park a more attractable and inviting place to others outside the community. It will only enhance our "leadership" role in the Chicago land area as well as the country. Take a step in the "Wright" direction Oak Park and vote Y~E~S!

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 7:12 PM

I do hope the board will make the right decision for Oak Park. I have been quiet the last few days because I just don't have anything else to say. I feel it has been made 100% clear why this is not the right thing for Oak Park. Thanks to everyone who has engaged in the discourse.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 6:59 PM

Thank you, Craig. I check the website.

Craig Chesney  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 6:33 PM

cont.. Jim the plan called for a mix of residential and commercial buildings. All parking was to be provided for per Village Ordinance on all corners. That hasn't happened. The garage you speak of would be on the NE corner. Oak Park Arms would require 70 of these spots, per the plan. It also would be used to service 4 stories of residential units and some where between 60,000 to 90,000sq ft of retail. I don't know how this will also service 5000sq ft of Comcast retail around the corner

Craig Chesney  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 6:22 PM

@ Jim Coughlin - Jim there was a follow up study to the 2006 Corridor plan. In May 2008 the Village paid for a massing study for The 4 corners of Madison and Oak Park. The study can be found on the village website. Under palnning, then under the madison corridor. Here is the link. Street/May 2008_OP-Madison_massing_study.pdf

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 4:22 PM

My recall of the Madison Corridor Plan is that there would be major retail at the NE Corner of Oak Park and Madison. The SE corner would be a four story bldg with for supplemental and compatible retail to the NE site. Wahlgreen's is in place on the SW and the building on the SE corner is small but recently refurbished. If the two large plots were built for major retail, more parking would definitely be needed. I doubt they can plan parking before the use of the large plots is firmed up.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 3:11 PM

John, I'm back to you with another question. Do you know if there is a long term plan to build more housing near Oak Park Ave. and Madison St.? There are also reports that the same area is being considered as a location for the construction of a Village-owned parking garage.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 2:14 PM

The Ill Housing Development Authority released its list of developments that have received preliminary approval. Grove Apartments, the fancy name for the Comcast Bldg, is one of the 63 approved. It is likely that 40 or so will not pass muster this year and will not be built -- state funding issue. Of projects approved, 30 were for seniors, 23 for handicapped, and 10 for supportive (OP category). On a per room basis, the Grove Apartments were the six highest cost of the developments of 63.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 5:02 PM

How do I get in on the Equity Assurance program?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 3:32 PM

The state's 2011 Annual Comprehensive Housing Plan was just released " The state has limited funds this year for housing and has set its focus on four items. The only one that has an impact on the Madison Housing Develop. is -- "Addressing the pressing needs of individuals with special needs and those transitioning from institutional living to community based living. Interfaith could face some funding problems.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 12:29 PM

Hi Jim -- the village has ample priorities - plans, reports, etc. etc. The problems is getting them to follow the priorities they set rather than inserting projects that were never on a priority list and have not been researched and analyzed thoroughly. That is the core of all issues. Great conversation -- glad to help. John

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 11:59 AM

Thanks to John, Chris and j.oakpark. I'm learning a lot about housing needs in Oak Park. The Village Board may want to consider a fresh approach to address the issue. A compehensive plan would better serve the community and detail long range goals. The lack of affordable options for senior,people with diabilities and the working poor won't be solved with Comcast's 51 units. It's a start but not a solution. I'm still concerned about making sure we address documented priorities.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 11:17 AM

Jim - I have never seen a document (spreadsheet) that shows all the current number of specialized housing by type, projected needs and or a statistical master plan. Almost all the villages plans are qualitative (words) vs statistical (numbers). The situation is complicated by poor data access caused by antiquated computer system and the number of OP taxing units. For instance; housing planning for seniors is done by Oak Park Township though Oak Park Village has a role.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 10:56 AM

@j. - The post-build traffic study has been bugging me too. What's the point, other than to document "yep, we got it right" or "oops, we goofed up?"


Posted: May 20th, 2011 10:35 AM

@Chris & Jim, I understood that the board approved the CMAP project to begin a study. So shouldn't we have a study before we approve a project? there was also mention of a waiting list with OPHA, how many people are on that list? And why is there no attention to the data that John or Patricia has offered about the needs for housing? And why do a traffic study after the project has been approved, based on commercial space, when it is a mandate to have the commercial space to approve the project

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 9:41 AM

Jim - ironically, a master plan to address the issue was presented by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning right before the Comcast proposal at Monday's Board meeting. There's a study called "Impediments to Fair Housing" on the Village's home page but no comprehensive plan. I'd be more likely to support a focused development that fits in w/ the CMAP plan, to be shared later this year. I don't see the rush to approve this project when the big picture is still being painted.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:10 PM

John- If I understand you correctly, the trustees can require that the developer designate a certain percentage of the units be reserved for seniors. people with disabilities and low-income singles. I beleive you stated that recent studies prioritized our local population housing needs in that order. Do we know the total # of units needed Village-wide to meet that demand? Is there a master plan that addresses the issue? Sorry to burden you with more questions. You've been a great source for info.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:21 PM

THE ANSWER "A" ----- A quote from the 2010 OP Action Plan. The issue was help for a developer whose project needing a parking variance that would require a public hearing (Quiz 2 - guess who). The PROPOSED ACTION approved by the board in January 2010 was "The village should proactively address this issue to eliminate the potential for non-my-backyard (NIMBY) to this important project. Without question, it was the OP ACTION PLAN OF 2010. It was executed flawlessly. KUDOS

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:03 PM

There is no question that the board could decide that the development should for handicapped only. Changes would be required to the building, but that has been done before.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 5:17 PM

I believe the Village Board can vote to approve the findings of the Planning Commission "as is", reject them "as is" or approve with modified conditions. I question whether they can specify a specific need for the development, but suspect they could point to the needs outlined in the Impediments to Fair Housing study.

The real and much better looking marco  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 5:11 PM

I have a question. Can the village board make the call to enforce only disabled for this project?

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:56 PM

@epic lulz - Is there a community in the country that doesn't have and enforce zoning ordinances? The neighborhood was equally against the Scheiss development on similar zoning concerns. Since this is funded by tax credits - federal tax $$$ - how is it private property? And why is this Interfaith's way or the highway on the public dime? So yes, I disagree with the project, but not for the reasons you are suggesting. Get your facts straight before trying to paint me as a bigot or NIMBY.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:47 PM

J. Oak Park - I saw Meredith leave before the end of the meeting so we did not get to speak. This issue is highly charged and mis-statements happen. I checked my text because I was afraid that I had said something wrong. I found, as I expected I would, that I never mentioned the work handicap or handicapped. But I did say some things about the case worker issue that could easily be misunderstood. I know Meredith and she is a fine young woman. She did a great job expressing her viewpoint.

The Ghost  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:41 PM

"OP, "O...P", "OP Resident" will be presenting his one show, "Call Me Sybil", at a date and time to be determined by the voices in his head. He will also be debuting his latest false identity "Marco".

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:34 PM

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer - Bruce Lee

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:32 PM

Oak - I did not cite all the HUD conditions because of space. HUD's list is longer and includes living with friends, other relatives, and in a supportive housing facility. The HUD rule is to ensure that the primary focus is on homeless and those threatened by homeless. The developer has said that they will not be affected by that rule despite the fact that HUD money is crucial to the development. It will be up to the board to sort the issue out.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:25 PM

If you build it-they will come

OP Resident  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 4:09 PM

I couldnt agree more. The light will shine down onto the darkness.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:53 PM

"There is no truth in him"- John VIII.44


Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:49 PM

"I hate the man who builds his name on the ruins of another's fame." -John Gay


Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:31 PM

Did you hear them say for- profit entity in the meeting? This building will pay taxes.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:10 PM

Epic, how is something that must adhere to government agency housing rules that depends on govt dollars for it's very existence and requires case workers be a private development?


Posted: May 19th, 2011 3:01 PM

epic, Bingo! I've been saying decoy from the beginning. If its not one thing its another!! -

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:56 PM

Bob, I understand and respect the feelings of those who live nearby. My response to you (which was intended to be partly tongue-in-cheek) was meant to convey my own firm belief that, just because vacancies have persisted on Madison for some time now, doesn't mean we should accept vacancies as an inevitability. We should focus on creating an identity for the area that is viable for the long term. I apologize if my humor was clumsy. I didn't want any lingering confusion about what planet I'm from.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:24 PM

@Marco - what I want is for opponents of the project, who are trying to use the power of government to kill a private project, to stop pretending that they pro free market. You're not. @Chris - Do I really have to point out the obvious, that variances are only required because of VOP insistence on dictating what people can do with their private property. The opponents of this project would oppose it regardless of funding sources or variances. It's the project you hate. Stop pretending otherwise.


Posted: May 19th, 2011 2:20 PM

Jim C., The 18 yr olds can just get their own apt in the building at that time. Conditions are you need a job that can afford you $700 in rent. Eat off of moms food bill etc...@J Murtagh, that girl would qualify. She wouldnt live with her parents when she moves in. Thats why they call it independent living.

J.oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 1:55 PM

I think Meridith Hill should be a spokesperson for all of Oak Park. Cedric Melton (OP community relations)needs to get in touch with that young lady...she really was terrific on Monday night. John, it seems you had a chance to speak with her after the meeting. I am glad for you both. Best regards.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 1:36 PM

Jim - There are communities that have their own specialized housing using local foundations, business groups, donations, grants, etc. to gather capital funding to build housing that meets the community's needs. OPHA chose a plan that uses HUD funding and a developer that specializes in HUD programs. HUD's Supportive Housing program are tailored to ITS needs; not local interests. Ex, Meridith Hill, the Monday speaker, is ineligible for the OP development. She lives with her parents.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 1:01 PM

Thank you, Patricia O'Shea. I was not aware of the lack of affordable housing for senior citizen and disabled residents. Let's hope this development can address the problem so people are able to stay and live in Oak Park. I was pleased that Trustee Brewer has requested full disclosure regardng financing. It's also encouraging that Trustees Salzman and Johnson are posting responses and offering their insights. This forum provides an excellent opportunity for informal discussion and debate.

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 12:09 PM

Mr. Salzman, I live south of Madison just west of the development. Much closer than you! I have seen Madison St. from Home to Oak Park decline over the years. Like I said before, it looks like the west side of Chicago. Bringing up to 102 poor people and concentrating them in one building is no way to redevelop a commercial strip. In fact, it will condemn that area to a blighted area for the forseeable future because no businessman would want to locate there. Hence my opposition to the plan.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 12:03 PM

I think you're on a good track Jim. In fact, disabled housing is the 2nd greatest need in Oak Park next to Senior Housing. Low income families is third. I think where the current plan breaks down is trying to be everything for everyone (due to the Low Income Live/Work in OP preference). I believe that as designed it will be not right for anyone - well except the financers who get the tax credits.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:57 AM

Thanks for helping me out, John. It sounds like the purpose is to providing housing for people who are truly in need with the expectations that they will be able to achieve more economic success and move on. I think of the young woman who spoke Monday evening and how much she wanted to be able to afford the opportunity to live independently. Let's make her dream come true! I would like to see the Village Board take a leadership role in addressing the housing and employment needs of the disabled.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:45 AM

Re being forced to move if salary exceeds 26,400, Interfaith has stated that the law allows a resident's salary to increase by 140% above the entry gap - 26,400 before they are forced to move.

The Ghost  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:18 AM

@The Real Marco. False postings using your name are the work of the bad actor who claims to be OP,O...P and OP Resident. He has regularly used these and other names to post deceptive comments. It's juvenile and counter-productive habit but proves how little he cares about fairness and allowing other people express their opinions. The best thing to do is ignore this gasbag and hope that he becomes bored or is transfered to a more secure facility with better supervision.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:44 AM

I think John Murtagh is joining me in asking that the trustees consider allowing a child who reaches 18 be allowed to stay in the apartment as long as they are enrolled in school, active in the military or has special needs. It seems unfair and, in some cases, cruel to cast them adrift. There should exceptions to the policy. These young adults are going to need support and encouragement. Don't hand them an eviction notice while they are blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:40 AM

All posts since 8:30 last nite are not mine. Stupid psycho person is at it again. I will no longer post under that name. This is who is going to live in this building. We shouldn't have to put up with this.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:25 AM

Thank you Ray Johnson for your prompt response. Do you know if the income threshold is adjusted annually? If the minor child works, is their income considered part of the household earnings or does the threshold apply only to the parent?

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:07 AM

I hope that if approved this project will be available to tenants of all ages who meet the other requirements, not just those who are under, say, 65. Everybody who reaches the age of 65 doesn't need specialized "senior" housing. If the project is limited to those under a particular age, I see an age discrimination issue. I certainly hope that is not the case, either formally or informally (that is, during the intake process).


Posted: May 19th, 2011 9:53 AM

Residents have no rights. You can please some of the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but you cant please all of the people all of the time. Build it already.

Closest neighbor to Comcast  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:21 AM

If you work here and live in Chicago, Berwyn, Forest Park, is that so Bad too? These are singles not families. Right now I would chose any of these places to live instead of this mess. I have had many cars that looked nice, but were lemons under the hood.

Closest neighbor to comcast building  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:18 AM

Please take into consideration how this will impact our block and most importantly my home. The building will no doubt be nice, but what can we expect from the people inside. From some of the posts, I'm very discouraged. It doesn't seem to be a good mix (all these people with many issues) all in one building. If you live and work in oak park, the you already live here, Right?

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 6:57 AM

@ Ms. O'Shea -- Trustee's can make comments about the public record related to the proposal -- but we must not make a final decision or indicate which way we may vote prior to board deliberations. @ Mr. Coughlin -- Income tax returns and other financial records are reviewed during annual lease applications and if the household income has increased above the threshold, the lease will not be renewed.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 1:22 AM

Good point Jim, but I am certain that they have to leave at 18. During an Interfaith site visit, there was a discussion that there was an increase in the need for young adult housing. That would probably be for those who leave at 18 and are still not mature or stable enough to manage independently. When you drive you Chicago there is a huge amount of young adults -- mostly boys, just hanging out.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 12:47 AM

Mr. Coughlin is asking some great questions. I'm not sure that all of them are answered here, but you can find loads of good informaiton at

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 11:44 PM

One more question,please. A tenant may move in with one child and can they share the apartment together until the age of 18. Is that a firm policy or is there any flexibility? An 18 yr. old barely seems ready or financially able to make it out on their own. I think an exception should be granted if the child is enrolled in college, a member of the military, or has special needs. Innerfaith must have addressed this issue in past and may have come up with a solution. I hope so.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 11:36 PM

I noticed that the income limit for tenants is actually $26,000. People are going to have to provide a statement of earnings. My concern relates to whether this means that if your salary increases by 10% due to a promotion, union contract, raise, overtime,etc and you cross that income threshold; must you move out? I assume tenants will sign a 1 yr. lease and prove need on an annual basis. That may result in not being able to retain quality individuals. They are the foundation for a good communi

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 11:17 PM

Hi Marco -- Senior housing is much too complicated for the Comcast Building as designed. Senior buildings need lost of space to move around, special activities, plenty of green space, locks for front door, parking nearby for those still driving, and a frontage that has room enough for them to sit outside during the day, medical services etc., etc. Seniors expect a lot more than singles!


Posted: May 18th, 2011 11:13 PM

Has anyone seen my boombox

OP Resident  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 11:13 PM

I cant believe the greed


Posted: May 18th, 2011 10:48 PM

They time for talk about this came and wentWe will build and they will come.If you don't like move to IRAQ or ASIA or someplace like that.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 10:38 PM

I disagree with you John. I think its a 100 yr screw up. We can just turn it into another senior housing center if it doesn't work out

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:35 PM

Adam Saltzman has an interesting point but not the whole story. In 10/07, Solan angry at the first Y plan rejection said he would find a developer to make the Y plan work. Also in 2007, Comcast said it was leaving. Solan and Vietti switched the plan to Comcast in early 2008. From that time til now, the village has not marketed Comcast actively. They slotted it for Interfaith. The Y stayed and all were trapped. You don't risk a 40 year screwup to hide a 3 yr village/devel Screwup.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 7:21 PM

@Bob from Oak Park I live in Northeast Oak Park on Planet Earth. Where do you live? Incidentally, I spell my name S-a-l-Z-m-a-n. And you may think it's funny that we have commercial space that isn't being used to its full potential on Madison Street, but I don't.

j.oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 6:46 PM

@Bob, i may be putting words in salsman's mouth: perhaps he meant that it would be a shame to have an giant empty space in a recently redo know, kind of like the walgreen's space which was mandated by mad ave coalition and the board. i also found the discussion of the larger parking lot plan in the already well used, at least during the day, parking lot on madison and op ave. oh and troll, you are right testimony in, done deal, probably. sigh.

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 6:24 PM

I have to laugh at Salsman's statement that he'd "hate to see a vacancy of that size on Madison Street." Where does he live & on what planet? Those empty lots have been there for years! And he's worried about some vacant storefronts?


Posted: May 18th, 2011 6:13 PM

I dont know what your discussing. Its a mute point at this point. This testimony is IN!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 3:31 PM

I just did a search on the issue and found expert opinions advised spending no more than 40% of your monthly gross income on rent. One example provided was based upon a person earning $1,000 per. They need to find shelter costing around $300 monthly. I'm sure the people with Innerfaith and Catholic Charities have crunched the numbers and believe $700 is doable for someone earning up to $23,000. I still wonder how much is going to be left for living expenses. Some new tenants will have a child.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 2:43 PM

I think it is going to be extremely difficult for a person earning a minimum wage to be able to pay $700 for rent. Many poor folks will pool their resources and share expenses but that would be impossible with the occupancy limits proposed for this project. I'm sure there are studies that can provide details on how much a person should be earning monthly in order to meet a $700 bill for rent. That's going to be tough when you include food costs, utilities, transportation expenses, medical,etc.,

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 2:29 PM

Mary Ellen - The Madison Housing Devel has no requirement that a resident works or seeks work. They are required to pay 706 dollars in rent, have a case worker, and follow the house rules. Development eligibility is now the board's responsibility. That preference will be presented to all investors for their approval. The approval is essentially that the investor invests. It is my understanding that Interfaith will represent the village OP in the negotiations. Is that a conflict of interests. Who

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 1:20 PM

Still, many seniors work part time or have other income which would allow them to pay the rent. I'm not clear on what population is preferred for residency here (other than possible OP residence/employment) but I would hope that if it is approved, seniors would not receive lesser preference, especially since senior housing is an OP need per other commenters. It's the 21st century. We need to stop thinking of seniors as unable to function in regular housing.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 12:55 PM

WOW, Ive been hijacked

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 12:42 PM

Jim and Bob - The rent at Madison Development will be 706 dollars. That is about one third of the gross income of a person with max income - 26,400. For a person working a min. wage job 52wks, 5days, 8 hrs is 50% of gross wage. The rent is high. City calcs show that full resident occupancy will generated 1-4 percent over the vacant building. It is hard to see how a person on SS could live there and even harder to grasp how the building will enhance a main street with a bad business base.

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 12:15 PM

Madison Street from Oak Park Avenue to Home looks like the west side of Chicago right now. Empty buildings, vacant lots, closed gas station, etc. This area needs a stimulus before it declines even more. I have never heard of anyone recommending a housing project for poor people as a way to rejuvenate a blighted area! It won't work in Oak Park either. If this project is installed, the area around it will never be redeveloped!

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 12:06 PM

The developers probably mean what they say when they suggest 75% Oak Park preference and use their other buildings as examples.But conditions change, there are changes in personnel, politics change. W/o formal requirements, I presume the developers can do what they want. If the need for affordable housing in Oak Park is as great as many claim (many seniors work, for ex.) then the Board should require priority for Oak Park workers and residents-with minimal flexibility--as part of approval.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 11:08 AM

I think the maximum income requirement to be eligible to rent an apartment in the development is quite a bit more than the state's poverty level. A person who depends solely on their social security would not be able to afford the monthly fees. This project is designed to assist the working poor. The plight of people who desperately need affordable housing is not going to be addressed. Funds for support services are being cut from the fed,state,county and local budgets. A real crisis is looming.

look at the data  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 10:42 AM

Multiply this by 30 and it's a vefry large number, which the already over-burdened taxpayers will have to contribute. If the federal government is willing to foot this bill, I would not have a problem with this. As it is - I'm already paying too much to live here!

look at the data  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 10:40 AM

First of all, Oak Park has quite a large population of low-income residents for a low of its size and demographics. Has anyone looked at some of the projected costs to our community? Since OP has a small industry base, homeowners pay a large share of education costs; while I understand that this is what a democracy does, we already pay for a large population of non-property tax paying students. This building could add up to 30 new students at a price tag of 13k for district 97 and 17k at OPRF.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:58 AM

We have nothing to fear but fear itself-FDR

J.oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:46 AM

Wow, who is complaining? I was asking a question. Sure the fall leaf pick up ran like a clock, I really appreciate that about our village. Marco, are you saying you have street sweepers now? 3 am, so I am not up that early, and I live kind of in the middle of my block so if they stop on the corner I wouldn't know. Thanks and have a great day.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:45 AM

@Chris-I don't think we know exactly what the board has planned to revitalize Madison Street other than what has been reported. The trustees spoke the other evening of a pending proposal for the NE corner of Oak Park and Madsison. My guess is that they will be concentrating their efforts on attracting commercial development. John Murtagh may know more about the master plan. I agree that the strip does need attention now rather than later but economic realites may be responsible for the delay.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:37 AM

As far as leave pick up, we were awakened at 3:00 a.m. Monday by the street cleaner and flashing lights. PLease keep the lights off when parked for 20 min.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:35 AM

@J - I don't think the space in the Walgreens space has been leased. They've also been trying to lease several spaces across the street to the east for quite some time. They're empty too.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:26 AM

Stop complaining joak park. If it bothers you that much pick up the litter yourself. There a more important thngs to worry about than having a few leaves in the street.We are talking about an outward sign that is inward of space. That's what it will mean when the Walgreen's store is no longer vacant.

J.oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:21 AM

sorry for going off topic: when was the last time the street cleaners/sweepers were out? I can't remember seeing one in a very long time and I am up early walking my dog every day. Maybe more village cut backs? Another off topic question: Anyone know what will be in or when the corner store at the new walgreen's will be filled?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 9:01 AM

No you may not. Put your hand down and go pick up the litter.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 8:56 AM

OH - OH - OH - My hand's in the air on that one John. I know that one. Can I answer? Can I?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 8:50 AM

THe Bible teaches that boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth

OP Resident  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 8:36 AM

Welcome to the neighborhood.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 8:22 AM

And why shouldnt we CONTROL things. It's called an election. WE WON and YOU LOST. Get over it or move. Oak Park is going to make everything work and no one is going to be as happy as me when all of you are proven WRONG. End of discussion. NOW go pick up the litter.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 7:56 AM

SEE what I mean about having to EXPLAIN things to people who will not LISTEN. I have to go and waalk thr animals.


Posted: May 18th, 2011 7:23 AM

Please oh please village board make this project for the disabled or the ederly and not for someone like OP, O....P, Oak Parker or whatever else this nut job is going to use. I don't want to deal with this everyday. I'm beggging you to make the right call here.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 12:10 AM

QUIZ TIME - Multiple Choice - Identify this quote: "The village should proactively address this issue (zoning variance) to eliminate the potential for non-my-backyard (NIMBY) to this important project." A) A posted WJ COMMENT by a village board member, B)A WJ editorial quote, C) A quote from the 2010 OP Action Plan. One clue -- The quote came from an objective voice. ANSWER AND DETAILS ON THURSDAY.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 11:18 PM

Can you be facebook verified and not use your FB name?


Posted: May 17th, 2011 11:15 PM

If you look closely, you'll see there is a couple less periods between the O and the P. ;-)

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 11:15 PM

Not me. It is you who should talk to yourself. Everything I said is TRUE and a FACT.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 11:13 PM

Kinda seems that way. LoL

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 11:10 PM

Talking to yourself again OP?


Posted: May 17th, 2011 10:55 PM

I could not AGREE more. Too many people in this town think they KNOW IT ALL. They don't!!!! They should all go pick up litter.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 10:53 PM

What are you people AFRAID of. Could it be that you know NOTHING andwill stop at NOTHING to prove your point.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 10:51 PM

And before I forget. Go pick up the litter.NOTHING any one says it going to stop this from going on. If you don't like it in Oak Park there are plenty of moving companys to move you.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 10:24 PM

Glad to see this project moving forward. When is the expected completion and move in date?


Posted: May 17th, 2011 10:22 PM

We should respect the dignity of these people and treat them like the HUMANS they are. If we treat them like animals they will act like such.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 10:05 PM

And I mean EVERYBODY. All that matters is that we live in a FREE COUNTRY and can what we want when we want.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:49 PM

@Mary Ellen - Both Interfaith and OPHA have stated on multiple occasions that a "significant majority" of the units would be dedicated to the Oak Park working poor. They've given examples of minimums from other projects starting at 75% in the testimony. The intention isn't to suggest a minimum that hinders the project. It is to put an achievable and realistic minimum in place that is consistent with those organizations' other projects and their stated intention for this project.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:46 PM

Well said. See I dont mind there being "other" OP'rs.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:43 PM

I don't why some people think I am masquerading.Did it ever occur to you that it might not be me doing this. Do you have any PROOF. No you don't. And so what.Is that so important. I have been saying the TRUTH for a long time and will not stop. People think they can crtiicize our elcted trustee and question our authority. I am not going to let it happen. This is a FREE COUNTRY. I know more about Oak Park than most people and will say what I want even if it means people get angry or lie about me


Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:17 PM

D Pappageo, I think if you were to ask prospective tenants what they feel, I dont think your attitude towards how they would be "handled" is accurate. It is ultimately there choice to want to live there or not. The market will dictate that. Clearly all the other Interfaith project dont have problems with how the tenants are housed


Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:14 PM

Dont forget we are in the USA. There are freedoms that come with that. This isnt a prison where the inmates have no rights. I keep hearing all the "restrictions" that others want to put on the project. This should be treated in some aspects JUST like any other condo development in OP.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:07 PM


D Pappageorge of OP from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 8:17 PM

My objection is to the focus on obtaining tax money to clean up a building rather than discussing the best way to help people. This is not the best way to help the poor when you consider their dignity, their access to jobs away from public transit lines, their ability to get married or have a life-partner. We welcome people of all economic levels into our neighborhood, and we will continue to do so. But let's talk about what's right for those in need, the neighborhood, and Oak Park.

D Pappageorge of OP from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 8:07 PM

Sad that project proponents believe segregating the poor into a separate building and limiting their transport options is actually better than anonymously spreading folks out & surrounding them with folks who can help as we've done successfully in OP for years. They've obviously never worked nor lived with the poor as some of us have done who object to this form of segregation. Some people need to vacate soap boxes and live in this reality for a spell before pontificating!

Previous post  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 7:03 PM

I apologize for my typo in the previous title- obviously it should read "Monikers" not "Monkiers".


Posted: May 17th, 2011 7:00 PM

OP Resident- Since there is no sign in requirement on anyone is entitled to use any moniker of their choosing. Instead of pointing out every "fraudulant" posting (as you like to call them), why not use the new comment policy ( and report any inappropriate posts that you find. I'm getting tired of these boards being filled up with off topic drama.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 6:11 PM

"OP" still posting phoney. He is not "OP Resident". Ignore the baloney.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 5:18 PM

If the developers can't commit, I'd certainly wouldn't assume 80% OP preference, or even 20% OP preference, especially since potential funders may have a broader mission than increasing affordable housing for current Oak Parkers. I'd be surprised if govt funding didn't prohibit many restrictions on eligibility. It would prudent for the Board not to assume 80% OP preference simply because that figure was mentioned. I'd also consider scenarios with a much lower percentage.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 4:16 PM

Any chance Les Cut the Taxes would qualify to get in? I think he meets the income and age requirements.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 4:04 PM

The applicant gave examples in an 80% range for their other projects and apparently regularly stipulates such preferences in their projects. They cannot, however, commit to a specific preference level until they've received funding, which happens after board approval. We've repeatedly requested that the Village require a seemingly realistic minimum of 80%. The recommendation from the Planning Commission did NOT include such a minimum.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 3:47 PM

Has it ever been made clear to what extent those working or living in Oak Park at the time of application will receive priority. Although I strongly disapprove of the idea of geographically isolating low-income residents, restricting access to this population only would make it more palatable to me. But I thought there was some uncertainty as to whether some funding sources would permit this restriction. This needs to be clarified for citizens as well as for the board. It should be 100% OP.


Posted: May 17th, 2011 3:42 PM

@epic, would you rather the board reject this project to protect the free market principles, or have the village weigh in to collectivly produce a product that we all are proud of.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 3:37 PM

A development has to prove the its project is financially viable or they don't get a chance to even discuss zoning variances. Seemingly the Fed and State are excluded from that. They say, approve the zoning variances, and we will study the project for a year or so and MAYBE fund it. That leaves the village holding a property waiting for gov't wheels to turn. The Fed and State have huge deficits,and their rules they attach to the funding is odious, long term an non-negotiable. Nothing is free.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 3:00 PM

I was glad to hear Trustee Brewer ask for more info on exactly who is funding this project. Trustee Luecke also raised an important concern regarding background checks and accepting as tenants only those who currently live/work in Oak Park. The working poor are struggling in these tough economic times at deserve respect and support. Their applications should be treated no differently than the current practices of the Oak Park Housing Center. Lots of questions need answers prior to the vote.

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 2:51 PM

Ms. Lueck - Have you spent any time talking to anyone living next to a low income residence even here in Oak Park? Nearly every article posted on this project has gotten responses from people you are supposed to represent telling about problems they have with such residents. The Trib did a recent story on Uptown's problems with low income buildings. It is CHA in that it puts too many disadvantaged in one place with no real help, no program. Your job is to listen, not preach. Please do it.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 2:36 PM

@epic lulz: The developer WOULD be free to do what ever they want if they weren't looking for variances on building height, density and parking. The other variances are a no-brainer that Trustee Brewer suggested, probably correctly, should be grandfathered and not even discussed. Frankly, I don't understand all these developers who look at a lot, look at the zoning codes and then spend $$$ drafting a plan that ignores the zoning.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 2:31 PM

Ken, every private project is affected in some way or another by government incentives/disincentives. Let's try a little honesty here for once and just admit that the opposition to this project is not grounded on free market principles. In fact, it's the exact opposite.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 2:28 PM

@Rich - the proposal would generate taxes representing an increase of around $25k / year from the current building, so the proposed development does very much do what you are looking for.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 2:08 PM

epic: this project would be funded with federal dollars through tax credits. Based on this and the requested variances, citizens have a right to weigh in on it.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:59 PM

Hey, for all you folks who want to include middle income, handicapped, whatever, how about you put together the financing and develop your own project? That's how things are supposed to be done in America. Not by forcibly taking over and appropriating the property of others.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:45 PM

"lack of business sense" That's an F-ing laugh. It's quite hilarious how people who are against this project insist on pretending that they are pro-free market. Actual "business sense" dictates that the private developer be allowed to do what ever they want with the property they own. Everything else is social engineering.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:41 PM

At the 1st Interfaith Bldg Tour, Interfaith made it clear that smoking by residents, and their guests, was ALLOWED in the building. What has not been addressed is smoking outside the building. There is only one resident door so some Second Hand Smoke Rules would be needed there. More important though is whether smoking in the sparse greenspace (alley) will be allowed and what protection will there be for children playing in their backyard on the other side of the fence.

RichF from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:41 PM

Oak Park needs something that will generate taxes. Poor government handling of vacant properties is constantly reducing the village tax base.

Lynn Allen from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:24 PM

I still would like to see more economic diversity in this building and to include working poor - not just singles- so that 2 parents with 1 child could live there. I have a family member I would love to see living close by.

Nick from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:16 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again - The fact that Oak Park is considering a concentrated poverty housing model (that has failed repeatedly time and again - all over the world) is disturbing and a shining spotlight on the lack of business sense this village government actually has.

Chris B from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:13 PM

Almost every development needs numerous variances, so this is not unusaual. One person's disaster is another's godsend. This isn't whiteco; it is a viable project which will do GOOD for our neighbors and those whom we profess to want to assist. A Montessori school may actually be able to hire some of the low income disabled residents to help out. I truly hope we can keep an open mind and active imagination on how the retail can be filled.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:11 PM

There is a correction necessary within this story -- as there are not 21 zoning variances. While I don't have my binder with me, I believe there 8 zoning variances. The number 21 comes from the various conditions and requirements the Plan Commission included in their Findings of Fact and majority approval.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:10 PM

(continued from below) Over The Rainbow showed interest in an Oak Park housing program that has not yet been considered. They should be contacted considering the confusion over what type housing OP needs. This might be an opportunity for the reborn Council of Governments to explore whether this is an opportunity to consider a collaborative program to find solutions that consider the issues of continuing education of the handicapped and housing simultaneously.

Marty Stempniak from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:04 PM

@Kathleen: That was a mistake. The project needs eight variances. Fixed it.

john murtagh from oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:03 PM

Meridith Hill's comments last night re the challenge faced by disabled students coming out of high school is important. The Over the Rainbow association based in Evanston serves the adult handicapped in an appropriate manner that recognizes that continued education to the handicapped is critical to their success. Over the Rainbow ( showed interest in the

kathleen from OP  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 12:52 PM

This project needs 21 zoning variances?? Good grief! On this alone, please vote "NO". What is the point of having zoning laws if they are ignored? This project is a disaster for Oak Park...

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 12:27 PM

Could the commercial space be utilized for a day care center? The Montessori school is looking for a new facility. I would prefer the space not be used for a Subway shop or Dunkin' Donuts.

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