Comcast project gets enthused OK from Oak Park village board

Decision ends months of deliberations on controversial affordable housing project


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Months of contentious hearings came to an end on Monday, as the Oak Park village board voted 6-1 to approve an affordable housing complex proposed on Madison Street.

Trustees spent more than four hours chewing over a Chicago nonprofit's proposal to convert an old auto dealership, later a cable TV headquarters, into a four-story, 51-unit apartment building. The final vote came just before midnight. Some elected officials expressed worries about the lack of parking and the possibility the first floor storefront will remain vacant for years.

But in the end, those concerns weren't enough to dissuade trustees who OKd the project eagerly. Trustee Colette Lueck has spent more than a decade serving the village, first on the plan commission and now on the village board. During that time she's had to weigh in on a plethora of controversial projects, but she said last night was a cinch.

"This is the easiest vote I've ever had," she said, later adding, "I think this is a once-in-probably-most-of-our-lifetimes opportunity."

Interfaith Housing Development Corp. plans to buy the long-vacant building at 820 Madison, just west of Oak Park Avenue. They're going 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 needed the go-ahead from village trustees, after the Oak Park Plan Commission gave its blessing in March (the proposal requires eight variances from village zoning laws).

Some neighbors have voiced concerns about the project, saying it's too dense, has too little parking and should contain a mix of residents with different incomes. On the other side, developers say the tenants (who would earn $26,300 or less) will take public transportation, and the development will lead to economic integration of the neighborhood, as the median income nearby is about $86,000.

Trustees last week said the segregation debate was one of the key concerns in reaching a decision. Ray Johnson pointed to a letter from the head of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center during the plan commission hearings, which highlighted the area's median income.

Johnson thought that letter was persuasive enough to ignore any segregation concerns. He and other trustees scolded opponents of the project who compared it to Chicago Housing Authority-style buildings such as Cabrini-Green.

"There is nothing about this proposal that even remotely conforms to the legal definition of segregation," said Trustee Adam Salzman. "The Regional Housing Center data makes that perfectly clear."

Trustee Bob Tucker, who works in affordable housing, said the project is neither horrible, nor great. He expressed concerns about the lack of parking and how it might affect the storefront on the first floor, but said the positives ultimately outweigh the negatives. It will transform a "painfully ugly" building into something "quite striking," while also serving a "need for accessible, affordable housing."

"Everybody becomes very entrenched that this is either a horrible development or this is the greatest development ever. It is neither," he said, later adding, "from start to finish, this is a very good development.

Trustee John Hedges was the lone no vote. He thinks Oak Park should have first had a larger conversation about how it wants to address affordable housing.

After the vote, opponents of the project expressed disappointment, while saying that they expected the outcome. Patricia O'Shea, of the 600 block of South Oak Park Avenue, wishes the board added more safeguards for the neighborhood.

"I would have liked to have seen the board put in more protections for our community. It's a 40-year commitment," she said, referring to how long the development has to remain as is because of the funding sources. "So overall, I'm disappointed, but I do appreciate all the effort that went into it."

The approval came with some 21 conditions, including hiring a resident manager for the building and paying for a parking study after the building fills up. Douglas McMeyer, of the 400 block of South Grove, pushed for the board to approve a cul-de-sac on his block, but the board held off on the idea. He wishes the hearings resulted in different development.

"I don't think the ball moved much in terms of what the proposal was," he said.

The village board is expected to reconvene June 6 to approval a final ordinance allowing the project. Interfaith will then have nine months from that date to apply for building permits. If all goes as planned, the developer hopes to have the building built and occupied in two years.

"It's a big decision, but for us, this is step number 10 in a 100-step process," said Gladys Jordan, president of Interfaith.

Reader Comments

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Demetrios Pappageorge from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 7:02 PM

Jim, thanks for the clarification; I meant no disrespect. I accompanied inspectors (like Marty's father) through the building who had no way of spotting behavioral issues. My point is that screeners and visiting officials do not see nor hear what the residents experience everyday. I would like to see that all tenants are surrounded by folks who want to be neighborly and who have the means of helping if and when the need arises. Like most on this block, I'm against this model, not the tenants.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 6:26 PM

Demetrios, my inspections of mutli-family buildings in Oak Park dealt with the individual apartment units and common areas. I was required to interact with tenants, property managers and building owners. Tenant screening is the responsibility of the building owner and is not a function of Code Enforcement. An inspector can assist a renter or landlord if the matter involves Village housing policy.

Demetrios Pappageorge from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 5:46 PM

@Jim Caughlin: There is a big difference between inspecting basements, plumbing, boilers and stairwells once a year & managing/living in a building where you experience the daily events in the tenants' lives. No inspector was ever there when I was calling police or OP Res. Corp. with issues when I managed. Res. Corp. followed there screening policies and asked the resident managers to get to know the tenants and to be vigilant. That is one of the biggest reasons I fought so hard for the planning commission to add "resident manager" as a stipulation for the project. But the bottom line is that among the law-abiding wonderful neighbors there was also crime & other issues.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 2:54 PM

The OPHA and the Oak Park Residence Corporation's track record speaks for itself. Put the fears to bed. Let the easy sleep of a long fall day calm you and allow you to sleep tight. Goodnight.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 2:40 PM

All I tell you Marco is that I inspected buildings throughout the community. It's a serious business and a vital function of Village government. Of course, some places are better than others. The properties that required constant attention were buildings where the owner/maintenance crew/tenants did not adhere to the Village's codes. They represented a very small percentage of the housing stock but eventually were in compliance due to orders from the Housing Court judge.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 1:34 PM

I don't know what you are inspecting Jim, but I have lived in Oak Park next to a building with sect 8, that we constantly had to call the police on. I have friends that work for maintenance for a large management company in op, and have told me some real scary stories, especially the building on austin and harrison.Whatever you say, there will always bw a stigma attached to this building, and one problem will reinforce that stigma.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 1:22 PM

It is funny that the opposition thought that most of the village wasn't in support of this project becasue the people in favor of it were not on this comment section. Sadly they find out that people really do embrace this and really embrace what Marco speaks of. Yes we do.............and so will they due time. Give it 10 yrs or maybe 30. Talk to the folks who live by Barrie Park about home values.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 1:16 PM

Marco, I inspected hundreds of multi-family buildings in Oak Park. Never did I encounter tenants who were threatening or appeared to be engaging in criminal behavior. The biggest problem was hoarding and a some general housekeeping issues but those were addressed by strict code enforcement. Every community has some bad actors but that's an issue for local law enforcement. The section 8 tenants I met were no different than any of the thousands of people I dealt with during the inspection process.

Why the lack of Clarity?  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 1:16 PM

In defense of concentrating (segregating) low-income workers into one building, supporters of this project highlight the benefits of separating the proposed tenants of this project into a special building. The access to services that Catholic Charities will provide is a key advantage, they say. This brings up the question. Is this building serving low income workers as many claim, or service-needy individuals? Why is there a presumption that low-income necessitates services? Is this how we define affordable housing?

We all need Respect  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 1:10 PM

If the word segregate or segregation has been used to describe the project, it is with the Webster New Collegiate Dictionary's #1 definition in mind: "To separate or set apart from others or from the general mass: Isolate." Segregation does not have to be seen only in terms of race or class. One definition from the same dictionary: "Segregation: the separation for special treatment or observation of individuals or items from a larger group. Segregation of gifted children into accelerated classes) (segregation of incorrigibles at a prison)." Offensive to many villagers: leaders and others who rail against concerned citizens simply because they use a word like "segregate." Several trustees and supporters of this project have impugned the motives of decent people; the effect is to silence and to besmirch the characters of those who raise questions. This is harmful.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:58 PM

I'll say it again. Does the village board even understand what they passed. Sect 8 allowed with no restrictions on how many. Back ground checks done, but it is their discression if they want to allow. That means people with records, next to sect 8, next to defenseless people with disabilities. Something terrible will happen in this building. Talk to any building manager who has section 8 residents, no fear, facts!!

OP Resident  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:42 PM

Hey Dave, What are your fears? Lower home values. Check. Increase in crime. Check. Parking. Check. The board clearly covered ALL of these in the meeting. The scary thing is that your fear was masked by: process, the funding, and the demand. Strange how the opposition just couldnt figure out what they were really against or they didnt want to own up to it.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 11:31 AM

Some of the comments below speculate about "what was actually said". The article provides a link to the meeting; you can click on the topic to see just what was said. The Village has also posted the supporting documents so that you can follow along with the Board discussion (click on agenda item to go to it). ( Board Agendas/05.23.11_special_meeting_agenda.pdf) This may clarify some issues raised here.

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 10:48 AM

Mr. Johnson - It's particularly galling you only share your thoughts here when you think you are wronged. What about addressing the frustration and anger of the commentators who feel that this process was rigged and that you have taken away their ability to raise families here in the way they want? As a leader, what have you done to address the fears neighbors of this project have? Is the Board's only strategy to express anger and preach at them that they are wrong?


Posted: May 25th, 2011 9:38 AM

But do they also hate Dryvit?

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 9:17 AM

This town has true intregation, both whites and blacks hate it here.

Tired of Oak Park "Liberalism"  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 9:09 AM

@True Colors - well paint me a black racist. I don't pay the taxes and mortgage that I pay to live near a housing project. The racism is on the part of white Oak Parkers whose paternalism gets in the way of common sense. If you want to see how liberal you really are count how many black friends you invite to your home on a regular basis. Most whites in Oak Parks have no black friends. They like token diversity only.

True Colors  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 1:40 AM

I'm glad to see that Oak Park's true colors are finally being exposed. I guess we aren't the "perfect" community we claim to be after all. It's about time Oak Parkers see themselves as they really better than any other racist community/suburb in the chicago metro area.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:30 AM

Good night OP

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:23 AM

John, I think I'm beginning to understand the concerns but other than the Village not having control; what's the biggest risk to the community? Without that control, does the development have the potential to be a public nuisance or worse? The people we see on local streets who appear to be homeless are not going to be able to pay $700 plus utilities. Nor will someone earning minimum wage. A tenant will need a $20K salary to pay that rent. That's a struggle and the challenge.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:09 AM

Jim - 1)The developer does not get funding -- we have the Comcast Bldg while they apply again and again. Once they have the variance; OP has little say 2) the building and grounds were designed for the homeless; it is a very limited building. 3) rent is comparable to available apts in the village, no demand study has been conducted. 4) Is it a beneficial 40 yr project, 5) tax revenue are only 1-4% above a vacant building. 6)35% of OP housing is affordable, 7)OP's side by side living philosophy.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:24 PM

Is Oak Park taking a risk by permitting this development to proceed? If so, what is it? We know that there is a need for affordable housing. Our local tax dollars are not involved in the financing. Prospective tenants already live or work in Oak Park and have demonstrated themselves to be responsible citizens by working, paying their bills and contributing to society. The property returns to the tax rolls. A new building pops up on Madison St. The developer has a proven track record. What else?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:52 PM

Gladys Jordan, Pres of Interfaith, said that the board's approval is 10th of 100 steps for the project. The next step will be "demand." There has is demand study or research on this proposal at all. Investors need to know demand before they commit. Limiting demand is the building itself. It has no medical support services, no meals, no specialty care, no car service, etc. Every resident will have to be self sustaining. Will the village stay involved on the demand issue or say We did our job.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:35 PM

Ray, no apology coming until the transcript is available.

Tired of Oak Park "Liberalism"  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:25 PM

I am a black professional homeowner who lives in Oak Park. I did not move to Oak Park for the diversity or to be near "affordable housing." I moved here so my kids could grow up in a safe, middle class environment. If I wanted to live near low income housing I could have purchased a home on the south side of Chicago and saved $8K a year in taxes. I don't understand the board's rationale, but then again, I don't suffer from white guilt.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:19 PM

@ Mr. Murtagh - I know for certain I never said that I "hoped and prayed" the development would be a success. I believe the proposal will be successful, has sufficient oversight, includes neighborhood representation on the community board overseeing the project, provides renovation to a building which sorely needs it, brings 'green' features and will have successful commercial space. Clearly -- we disagree about this proposal, but please don't misquote me.

Watchdog needed badly  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:07 PM

Now is the time for people to organize and hold everyone responsible, and make sure they are in total compliance. Examine all permit filings, make sure they adhere to the rules set down by this agreement, make sure they comply with any and all laws related to building, hiring, environmental, and management. If the residents of the area are stuck with this situation they would be well served to make sure that management complies with all of the rules and blow the whistle if they don't.

Concerned Oak Park Family  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:14 PM

Can someone please clarify. What is the difference between affordable housing and supportive housing? Isn't this housing project, with Catholic Charities as the service provider, supportive housing? Also, does anyone have the dictionary definition of segregation?

Demetrios Pappageorge from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:06 PM

John, remember the anecdotal evidence I presented at the meetings and via email was ignored, and the "Finding of Facts" doc read more like the "Propagandizing of Opinion." Despite listing actual events experienced in just 1 building managed by Oak Park Res. Corp. with a handful of Section 8 units, there was no mention nor any address of "worst case scenarios." They kept their heads in the sand. We need to approach David Pope, John Hedges and others who might want to discuss a cogent and comprehensive housing plan. Well, now that the "Who's Most Progressive" soapbox contest and the naive, short-sighted, "feel-good" voting is over, the self-congratulations can begin. Their Lexus-Liberal idealism only looks good until reality kicks it in the juevos.

Disgusted on Madison  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 6:16 PM

"now vote them out from Oak Park" Amen.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 6:04 PM

Thanks, John. Always good to learn how these projects go from an idea to an agenda item.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 6:02 PM

Hi Jim #2 As far as I know, Worst Case Scenarios (WCS) were never developed throughout the process by anyone of the sponsors, the board, or the Plan Com. Oak Park Planning works primarily with drawings and narratives. There is little data to be had and analysis is dismal. WCS works best when you are using a planning process that has alternatives. This development was never part of any of the many plans that exist at village hall. OP acted solely as facilitators for OPHA and Interfaith.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 5:50 PM

Hi Jim - I was a bit stunned when Ray Johnson said that he hoped and prayed that the development would be a success. Hope and pray are planning words, but only in OP. Johnson and Lueck have been the primary board drivers of the development from the start - which was years ago.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 5:31 PM

John, there are certainly questions about the development that were not addressed last evening. Was there any discussion by the Planning Commission regarding a worst case scenario? Ray Johnson and Collette Luecke spoke glowingly of the potential of the project but so much of that was related to their hopes and dreams.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 5:18 PM

OP you are part of the problem, not the solution. as a low income individual, how much is your government check? Cant wait for more of your kind to roam the streets, feel sooooo much safer.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 5:13 PM

OP, OP Resident, O...P, Oak Parker and Marco are all the same guy! He steals screen names. The real OP Resident no longer posts using that moniker. Same goes for Marco.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 5:12 PM

Amy, There are other residents and citizens of this Village besides the opposition who mostly live in the immediate area.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 5:00 PM

Sorry OP Res -- it appears that OP has taken your name again from the last two replies. They sound much too crass to be coming from the real one.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 4:58 PM

And that is why the shoemaker makes a good shoe because he makes nothing else.

Amy Pappageorge   

Posted: May 24th, 2011 4:49 PM

As for the village leadership - we had no idea there was such a disconnect with the residents. This process felt fake and manufactured and callous- at the expense of those who care deeply about this neighborhood. That is the hardest lesson - the invalidation of citizens who are representative of the diversity and goodwill of this town. And to be pegged "fearmongers" - What poppycock!

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 4:33 PM

I dont think Hedges was against this project on its face value. I think he voted in protest to not having these discussions before hand. Welcome to reality.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 4:08 PM

No need to check. I KNOW everything. Listen and LEARN.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 4:04 PM

OK Park Res - We will have to check the transcript. I sure heard Lueck say something different than you did. John Hedges spoke to the long term impact of the issue. Others spoke to it as well and raised the same concerns, but decided to OK another development that was poorly planned, filled with issue never discussed, and more political than substantive. The vote was classic OP - Yes it stinks, but we can fix things later. Dissent is good. We need more of it. I admire Hedges' courage.

Bob Marley  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 4:03 PM

Keep smoking the good stuff, OP.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:55 PM

The itch of disputing is the scab of the churches. And the best way to make chidren good is to make them happy. Remember to make hay while the sun shines.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:51 PM

Nothing can be truer than fairy wisdom. It is as true as sunbeams.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:45 PM

Jim - Categorizing mail into subjects and using it as a cornerstone of the argument the board member feels like making is demeaning to the public. Pres. Pope made it very clear that the board was acting in a judicial capacity. That does not give them leeway to act like Judge Judy. The issue was whether people making less than $26,400 were being separated from the OP core. That's it. The issue was not about civil rights.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:16 PM

Ah - more "economic integration" with "affordable housing." How long before this place becomes a crack house? Everyone's property value around this place just fell some more.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:03 PM

Don't worry about a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.- Bob Marley


Posted: May 24th, 2011 3:00 PM

My pastor said the development is good, so it must be good.

Dave from Oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:55 PM

Pope's diversity is a window curtain over the real Oak Park. Forest Park is more diverse without trying. How many minorities own a home on your block, especially if you're not east? How many minorities are in honors classes at OPRF? What schools achieve No Child Left Behind? This is a hard core real estate deal to cover up failed development policy and benefit Village insiders. Congrats, Ascension and UCC dupes for backing greed, insider dealing. Kind of forgot that neighbor thing, huh?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:55 PM

I wish they had a like or dislike button.

Barbara from Forest Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:53 PM

To Arnold Friend Lower Income Does Not Mean Lower Class.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:48 PM

con't....Hedges has a record of voting no for things not becasue he disagrees with them but becasue he wants to address the wider picture at one time. The individual things in total make up the whole as you go. What should we be talking about next Trustee Hedges ?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:48 PM

Trustee Luecke didnt say vacant store fronts. She said more store fronts attract tenants than less store fronts in regards to having commercial space in the development. Trustee Hedges said he is a "policy freak". Its unfortunate that Trustee Hedges uses these individual agenda items to use his policy reasoning. It always seems a bit late. Good policy is always now for the future. If something comes before you- vote on it on the grounds presented.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:47 PM

You're right, John. But "Fear" was definitely on the menu last night. I think the trustees were referring to e-mails and letters they had received. Trustee Salzman seemed especially angered by residents who has expressed to him their fears and further scolded those who had used the word "segregated" to describe the development.

Arnold Friend  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:46 PM

I wish Oak Park would try to integrate those who have a household income around $50,000. As current renters, we'd love to become owners in Oak Park, but apparently integration is only focused on the lower class.

Another OPer  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:43 PM

While I believe they made the wrong decision, it is their jobs to do this. Just like all the others we entrust with so much power to decide what's right for the people. For starters, reduce your dependence on government and assume ownership of your life. WTF

Nick from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:42 PM

awesome - now can we please get a dollar store on madison and oak park avenue?

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:39 PM

Using the word "fear" is an easy way to label and dismiss any and all objections--no matter how thoughtful and legitimate--as irrational. Rather condescending IMHO.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:39 PM

@little. I believe Pope was a little concerned at the impact this will have on the neighbors 400 grove, thats why he tried to get the cul-de-sac. As a neighbor that lives on grove, I would've felt better if it could have happenned. Atleast then I could get a fair price for my home. Thanks Pope for trying, thanks for nothing for the rest of you.

Just wondering  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:34 PM

@InquiringMind ... no, amazingly, the mixed-gender occupancy of a one-bedroom unit was never brought up. Not emotionally healthy for a child to be sharing a bedroom with a parent after a certain age, especially mother and son or father and daughter. Pope's unsubstantiated claim that "Oak Park is the most diverse community in the U.S." also was accepted without question.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:30 PM

In ten months of working on the Madison Housing Development, last night was the first time I heard the word "fear" used. The operative word was and is "concerned." Neighbors expressed concerns about parking, density, security, etc. in order to ensure the PlanCom and board to address addressed them. Did they? We may find out in a few years. Instead of addressing real problems, the board decided to play social psychologist and define all opposition as being in fear. I think the board has ADD.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:30 PM

I have to agree with you, John. Trustee Luecke offered a strange comment about vacant storefronts on Madsion St. being an asset towards attracting new businesses. I would like to hear her provide some evidence to support her position. I did notice that no other board member voiced agreement or support for Luecke's contention.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:25 PM

@little voice. Pope was just confused because the developer wasn't asking for a TIF handout.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 2:16 PM

It was interesting to listen to the trustees address the "fear" some residents have regarding this development. We learn about the tenant screening process and that seniors, persons with disabilities and the work poor will all have access to this new and affordable housing. Preference will be given to Oak Park residents and people who work in Oak Park. It's now up to Interfaith and Oak Park Housing Authority to honor their promise and demonstrate that those fears were unfounded.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:52 PM

Good luck Grove.

little voice  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:49 PM

For those for were there or watched the meeting - it seemed to me that David Pope's gut instinct was to vote against this project but allowed his superego (in a Freud way, not a negative connotation) to overrule what he believes in his heart to be a bad idea for the neighborhood. Am I the only one that sensed this?

Grove Ave Resident from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:38 PM

Soory you feel you have to leave Oak Park Jay! The decision of the planning commission and of the VOP Board -- in my opinion -- were thoughtful, reasonable and reinforce Why I want to stay in Oak Park.

Inquiring Mind  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:37 PM

@Jay. Agree. What's so great about Oak Park? High taxes, schools aren't as good as their reputation, and robbery at gun point on next block. I'm out of here.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:19 PM

From the Trib Local: Trustee John Hedges was the only vote in opposition. While Oak Park has low-income housing, the Interfaith proposal will be the only one to serve people in general as opposed to a specific group, such as seniors or persons with disabilities. Since the proposal is unique, Hedges said the village should first have a community-wide discussion on the future of affordable housing, and then establish policies and goals before moving forward with individual proposals.

Inquiring Mind  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:08 PM

Has the following been addressed? The one-bedroom apartments will be for a single parent with one child. What if resident has a second child or female single mother is parent to a teen male (or single father parenting a daughter). Isn't there a health code regulating number of people in one-bedroom apartment or sharing of bedroom by opposite sex parents and siblings?


Posted: May 24th, 2011 1:01 PM

Goodbye OP as I will be moving out. Three generations through OPRF and will be leaving. High taxes, can't walk at night, schools way lower in rankings. Keep sticking it to the people who can afford to live here, better yet afford to move from here.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:54 PM

When not complimenting staff and Interfaith profusely the board said 1)it is time to look at diversity issues again 2)that the Madison Plan is a mess 3)that the village housing policy needed review. Only Trustee Hedges considered the long haul -- 40 years. Two quotes were memorable. When asked of his opinion on the cul-de-sac, the village's engineer said no one gave him a drawing. When defending vacant storefronts, Trustee Lueck said that they attracts business interest. Back to the Future.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:49 PM

Judge not lest you be judged

The Silent Majority  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:46 PM

11,000 people voted in Oak Park last election. Im sure at least 10,500 of them are in favor of this.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:39 PM

@Pity Party: Here come the Limosine Liberals!

Pity Party  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:31 PM

Awwww, all the racists feel bad. Buck up, you can always move to Hinsdale.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:24 PM

I nominate Patricia O'Shea for village trustee. She did not get emotional, even when baited by OP or O....P, her responses were comprehensible and clear. I never once felt like she was smacking anyone on the end of the nose for their comments(johnson and lueck)or telling anyone that their comments were born out of "fear"(pope). Far better rep for Oak Park than the old guard VMA.

I cannot believe this part.... from North Berwyn  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:22 PM

From Trib Local: "The board denied the requirement that Interfaith would have to automatically deny anyone who has been convicted of a felony in the past five years." Are you kidding me? Let's just make the place a home for child molesters while we are at it! Neighbors, start processing those FOID applications because this is the start of a 40 year train wreck...


Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:21 PM

South of Washington = wrong side of the tracks.

I already felt like I live in from North Berwyn  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:12 PM

but the Marion business district gets heated sidewalks whereas the Madison business district gets housing projects....pretty much sums up what Village Hall thinks of North and South Oak Park, doesn't it?

A well calculated mistake from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:37 AM

poor desperation on top poor desperation is a proven mistake! Ask around or do some research. Almost every metropolitan housing project like this one around the country has been abandoned. And everyone agrees that they were a failed experiment from the start. Thanks Oak Park, for bringing your weird social engineering plans back to the 1950's! To the people opposed to this project. I am sorry - Time will tell if Oak Park learns from this. Unfortunately it wont be until 2053.

A well calculated mistake from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:36 AM

Illinois. The fact that a project like this would go in on the basis that it will make us more well rounded as a community is a freaking joke! Also, $700 per month rent is not really a good deal. I have friends who rent large one or two bedrooms around Oak Park that cost less than that. Why would anyone want to rent in this project. To those who say that opposition to this project was based on racism, I will reiterate- It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with the fact that stacking of


Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:36 AM

Careful, everyone, or Trustees Luecke and Johnson will lecture us again.

A well calculated mistake from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:35 AM

Shame on Oak Park - This project, whatever they want to say it is for, was a huge mistake from the start. Weather they say its good for economic diversity or to help the working poor of Oak Park or whatever. Please understand that this is nothing but a facade. It is only about money and developer kick backs for the village. Here's a bit of information - Oak Park doesn't need this project. It is far more economically, socially and culturally diverse than many, many, many other communities in

now vote them out from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:26 AM

I hope that the organized opposition to this project will now put it's engery into making sure that the board members that voted yes are replaced in the next election. You can count on my vote along with over 60% of my neighbors. I may not know who I am voting for but I sure know who I am voting against.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:20 AM

Cont. respective percentages of population (or slightly underrepresent it). Who cares? There are reasons for this and it does not behoove anyone to pretend otherwise. If this is bigotry of any sort, it is against those of any hue in a lower socio-economic class. And as someone who grew up in OP and then experienced this firsthand, I realized that there are definite pitfalls with a high concentration of low-income people in one spot. OP has plenty of apt. vacancies. What a travesty this is.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:17 AM

@OP Neighbor from RF: I don't know who you are referring to regarding racism as the chief objection to this project, however I cannot let your statement regarding Whites and poverty stand. The same is said regarding welfare. Do you know the difference between raw numbers and representation by population? Blacks only compose 12% of the US population so yeah, they are not going to have the raw numbers of those on welfare. But they are 39% of all welfare cases. Whites and Hispanics represent their

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 11:11 AM

@Anon.: Wow, really? "Weirdos?" I have written to the Main library about issues regarding the homeless and those who loiter in front of the building but calling them weirdos is not very compassionate.

anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:49 AM

So does this mean all the weirdos who hang out right outside the library will finally have somewhere else to go? I know it's great to have several scraggly, drugged out looking strange men right by where so many kids hang out, but maybe they will have more fun in the OP PJ's?


Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:34 AM

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 10:02 AM

WE ARE OAK PARK!! .............................WE ARE OAK PARK!!

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:54 AM

Oak Park hangs on a thread few comprehend. Highest taxes in a state with economic problems surpassing California. An island surrounded by poor communities. Be honest. The only reason Oak Park exists is the last generation made sure not too many poor and, yes, minorities lived here. This generation, to further selfish low income housing careers, is turning Oak Park to what was feared. No doubt our genius leaders will integrate poor people better than they've dealt with the achievement gap.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:25 AM

The largest contributer to these kinds of projects in the past were Freddie and Fannie. Don't blame the reccession, blame irresponsible people with their head in the clouds. Peace and love, get out of the 70's and put your bong down.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:14 AM

Its an exciting day for Oak Park. The project is not a go just yet. They still must get the funding which will hopefully come soon. The naysayers continue which is sad for them. Welcome to our Village.

CB from Oak Park IL  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 9:05 AM

Wow, what nastiness spews from our masses. The sky is falling! Seriously, this project helps the disadvantaged citizens of the community, without taxpayer dollars; will help revitalize a bleak street because people actually live there; won't decrease property values ( you can thank the recession for that) and will help many families know that their loved ones are being independent, but with supervision. It saddens me to see so much hate, what happened to us? Where did our loving spirit go?

The Continued Downfall of OP from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:48 AM

Haha, wow they're going to basically build a high-density housing project in Oak Park? Great idea! Here are a few guarantees that will result from this: -Property values in the surrounding area will drop -Crime in the surrounding area will increase -Oak Park schools will have lower test scorse and graduation rates -Property taxes will probably go up again to account for all three of these

Real Estate Definition - stigma   

Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:44 AM

stigma - a negative association attributed to a particular property, reducing its marketability and value. A project wasn't passed, a line was drawn.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:30 AM

This was always a likely outcome, but I am still concerned about somebody's (the WSJ's? the Board's?) perception of $85,000 median income-I assume this is household income- as affluent and in need of social engineering, so to speak, to improve economic diversity. Again, it would be interesting to see a more detailed income map of OP. Perhaps the WSJ could find/develop one and publish it. I strongly suspect there are other OP areas far more in need of economic diversity intervention.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:25 AM

Adam Smith, a.k.a. epic lutz - nobody likes you. Just go away.

Adam Smith  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:17 AM

It good to see that the Board didn't accede to the wishes of a bunch of anti-capitalist goons and went ahead and approved this private enterprise. The free market prevails against parochial luddites once again.

North Berwyn Resident from South Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 8:02 AM

I was always bummed because I lived in forgotten Oak Park, south of the Ike, north of Roosevelt. Now with Roosevelt Road being worked on and the Comcast PROJECT being approved, things don't look so bleak.

J.oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:53 AM

funny thing is there is another article about the three year assessment letter coming soon. and despite the fact that our property values have dropped by 10% since last assessment we will not see lower tax bills. great news all around today...


Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:50 AM

Government Balloon, when will it pop? The article tries to gloss over the real issue. Each governmental Taxing body in the communities (headed by Citizen Board) keeps RAISING the levy each year. This is the REAL Key, the Taxing bodies LEVY. When these are challenged and reduced our taxes will begin to go down. More People (WJ included) need to be educated and educate on WHY peoples assessed values have NO impact at all on the total take of these taxing bodies. They just shift the burden.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:39 AM

This is the Peoples Republic of Oak Park. The Village has ignored the people and made their infinitely wise decision. Resistance is futile. All in opposition are wrong and bad people. Long live the Peoples Republic of Oak Park. Now get back to work so you can pay your super high property taxes.

J.oak park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:12 AM

so who was the one trustee that voted against the project?


Posted: May 24th, 2011 7:07 AM

It looks like im not moving to Oak Park! What a shame.

ih8idiots 2 from OP  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 6:36 AM

ih8idiots - you are the biggest one. You're a real genius.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:45 AM

Let the healing begin.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:39 AM

OP, don't think that your flowery language hides you trying to stick it to us with "silent majority" as the name you posted under. If you've learned anything through all this it should be that I see right through false niceties.

I Prefer Jewel and Walgreen's in River Forest from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:36 AM

...and real development on Madison Street (you know, the kind that actually expands the tax base and lowers the burden on taxpayers) is set back another 10-20 years! This same Board wouldn't have approved a Dollar Store, but now that's just about all that will be interested in setting up shop there. Congratulations on sending more Oak Parkers to River Forest to do their shopping.

The Silent Majority from Oak Park  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:28 AM

May we all move forward and live side by side. Lets hope this project gets the funding it needs and let's all hope we can come together to make it the best development it can be.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:28 AM

But I met some great people through all of this - too many to name - and for that, I'd do it all again.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:27 AM

I am very tired and pretty disappointed. I could have done without some of the speeches that felt like trustees were looking down their nose at those who dare question. Others were thoughtful and able to see things from every side of the table which is much appreciated (I'll be emailing those trustees soon!) I am disappointed on many levels for many reasons. Will share those tomorrow. I can see why those who have led the charge against things that seemed to be a done deal in OP say never again.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:18 AM

I for one am looking forward to a new wave of white flight from Oak Park. Too damn white here anyway.

Disgraceful from OP  

Posted: May 24th, 2011 12:11 AM

In all fairness, the Board HAD to pass this monstrosity in order to continue to live with themselves after passing the unnecessary $5 million dollar beautification project for South Marion. I mean, DTOP must sparkle and shine with bluestone and heated, they're willing to put southside neighborhoods at risk to show their benevolence. It's abusive to OP taxpayers and it's disgraceful. THAT'S why people live here? from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:56 PM

"We Oak Parkers welcome people of all kinds...people choose to live (here) just for that reason...." But I thought that it was for the public schools? Or was it the parks? Or was it the unique form of village gov't? Or the FLW houses? Or the proximity to the city? The heroin highway? The ridiculous building standards? The open HS campus (not anymore)? The broken down parking garages? The lack of for sale signs? The empty lot where the hotel will never be? Tasty Dog? The leftist WJ?

OP Guy  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:53 PM

OP Neighbor from RF, don't lump all the opposition together! I have nothing against anyone of any race. I am against this project because it mirrors too closely city projects that have failed. I'm against filling 1 large building will ALL low income residents, but I am fore mixing income levels. I also believe that the drive for this project serves the developer more than what OP really needs, which is more senior housing.

Concerned citizen from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:53 PM

The village board and commission deliberations, the finding of facts, focus almost exclusively on the development, and on the theoretical "good" of the project and its mission. The residents living in the vicinity of the proposed development, vastly in opposition to the development, spending months of time, and energy while researching the proposal, attending meetings, taking care to thoroughly study this proposal and to present their case, (visit to see the careful work put into this) - to what end? To hear the trustees tonight: this project is the great gift to our community, the great humanitarian cause to champion. If you question it, you are offensive, heartless, and worse. The development is the supreme reality, the supreme good. One has to wonder about the people's representation in this village. Several trustees mounted some lofty soap boxes this evening. And what cross will they bear, I wonder? What sacrifice will they make? I wonder if, like Gandhi, like Dorothy Day, they are willing to "renounce and rejoice," and to assume a life of voluntary simplicity. They could then move into this low-income housing complex and live side by side with the people they have their hearts set on serving.

Get a Clue from OP  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:44 PM

@Oak Park Neighbor: Those opposed to the development are, in fact, generally supportive of inclusionary housing (600-700 units of which are already available in OP) rather than the failed concentrated housing model. And, btw, screening applicants for their backgrounds is another request being made -- NOT racial profiling. Perhaps you River Foresters should consider a development like this?

Oak Park Neighbor from River Forest  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:29 PM

Wow, the racial bigotry displayed in some of these comments is amazing. They don't want this building because they think the residents will all be Black. So many writers seem to equate poor with African American. Don't you know that most poor people are white? If Oak Parkers are so worried about concentrating a few lower-income small households in one building, why aren't they demanding the village adopt mandatory inclusionary zoning so that all new developments will be mixed income? Hypocrites

I Live a Few Blocks Away from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 11:22 PM

I can't believe the Village is even considering making Oak Park = Austin West. If this passes tonight, I'm all set to have my new security system and higher fence installed this summer. Then, perhaps I'll get licensed and buy a handgun for protection. If the Village won't use common sense and provide basic protections for residents of the village, I will consider taking these basic steps to keep my family safe.

Not needed   

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 10:52 PM

Have you talked to the villagers? Vote no. Oak Park has affordable housing, It is available now if you want to sign a lease and choose OP. Ever see a Game of 3 card Monty on the EL? I have. shills and marks. 2 of the players are going to get off the train after the money changes hands and we are stuck with the illusion. Please vote no. we have nothing to prove.


Posted: May 23rd, 2011 10:17 PM

Sorry, some of those softballs are Salzman. They keep coming...


Posted: May 23rd, 2011 9:36 PM

Pope asking real questions. Appreciated.


Posted: May 23rd, 2011 9:28 PM



Posted: May 23rd, 2011 9:13 PM



Posted: May 23rd, 2011 8:46 PM

I'm going to count the softball questions pitched to the developers by Trustee Johnson. One down.

Another Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 7:57 PM

The suspense is killing me!!!!!

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 7:13 PM

Bad idea. It will pass. Trustees are in hip pocket of 'developers'!

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 7:04 PM

Jim, those other groups have housing already in the Village and will have more down the road.

Vote for the nuclear family!!  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:42 PM

Is it just me or does this development reinforce bad behavior? What about poor families with a mother and a father?

Stop the BS  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:39 PM

Vote NO!!!!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:35 PM

If Interfaith wants to dedicate these units to help address the housing needs of the only working poor, we are still left with the fact that two groups of residents have been identified as having a more significant need. They should be part of the mix.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:24 PM

There will and can be seniors, disabled , singles over 18 or all of the above. I am not sure of the legality if we go down the road of who and who cant live there when it comes to Oak Park or not.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 6:12 PM

The mix of residents should not be based solely on income. I would prefer that the housing needs of senior citizens, persons with disabilities and the working poor be addressed according to the priorities that have been identified by the study.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:59 PM

Oak Parker: You're guaranteeing that I'll be surprised?? ...OK. Actually, I won't be surprised. I expect that it will be approved tonight. I do, however, expect that the village will require the developers to commit to more than just saying "trust me" on tenant selection and management.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 4:28 PM

All those that oppose this project will be very surprised if they go ahead and build it. I will make that guarantee. Lets all be there for the ribbon cutting ceremony if there is one :-))

Racist Idiot from Lily White Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 3:47 PM


murtaghs sick of DRYVIT from oak park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 3:25 PM

Whatever the outcome I am happy that we will never see this paragraph in the WJ again. Marty has used it in every article since last summer. "A Chicago developer is hoping to buy the LONG VACANT BUILDING at 820 Madison, just west of Oak Park Avenue. Interfaith Housing Development Corp. plans to strip the building's DRYVIT FACADE 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." DRTVIT NO MORE!

Nick from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 2:13 PM

yeah this is pretty much a bad idea.

The Real Marco  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 1:07 PM

Lets spend 15 mil to help 50 people live in oak park. Irresponsible and wasteful. Take the money and help tornado and flooding victoms.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:49 PM

We Oak Parker's welcome people of all kinds to our Village. That's what makes us unique. People choose to live in this community just for this reason. We are also very close to a large metropolitan area (downtown Chicago) where many jobs are. We are so lucky to have 3 train lines and multiple bus lines that run through our Village. This will be a home run for all if it passes. Vote Yes and lead the way!

Ida B Wells from Chicago  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:43 PM


Robert Taylor from Chicago  

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 12:42 PM

Just say no!

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