A proposal to build a 10-unit luxury condo development at the corner of Chicago and Maple avenues was pushed back by the Oak Park village board Monday.
Trustees told Oak Park-based Altierra Development Group to do more work on the design of the proposed 62-foot-tall building.
Village President Anan Abu-Taleb suggested that the development group's architect, John Schiess, work with one of his critics, Garret Eakin, another local architect, on refining the project. Eakin also writes a monthly architecture column for Wednesday Journal.
Eakin suggested that the project include ground-level retail instead of the proposed parking garage, which he said would create a "dead zone" in the area.
"Twenty four indoor parking spaces fill the ground floor, so the whole ground floor, less the lobby, is all parking," Eakin said. "That's a real visual delight if you can imagine it," he said sarcastically.
He also said the project was too dense and mediocre in design, "essentially a decorated box."
"The red brick-and-cement masonry units seem anonymous, having little to do with adjacent neighbors," Eakin said. "The massive block is completely disrespectful to the community and the grand history that we are all so proud of and why we live here."
Paul Zimmermann, a partner with Altierra, reminded board members that the project takes a "blighted property" that pays property taxes of $10,000 per year and turns it into a luxury development expected to generate $180,000 in property taxes annually.
Abu-Taleb said Schiess should meet with Eakin to work out differences on the density and design of the development. The village board gave the odd couple a short time frame to return to the board.
"We need to send a message to the community that Oak Park is open for business … but in the meantime we don't want it to be at the expense of the current tenants and the business owners and the residents and so forth," Abu-Taleb said.