Oak Park board approves new Maple condo design

10-unit condo building redesign drops in height, adds retail space

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Developers with Altierra Group were given the green light Monday by the village board for its proposed 10-unit luxury condo building at Chicago and Maple avenues.

The proposed Residences at Maple Place development returned from a peer review session with other local architects with a new design that lowered the height of the five-story building by 4 feet, and the fifth floor was set back 10 feet on the east and west sides and 8 feet on the north.

The bulk of the building was reduced by restructuring the balconies to a cantilevered design with platforms held up by metal columns rather than balconies being set into the structure. 

"The building now reads as if the corners were eliminated," Altierra architect John Schiess told the village board Monday.

And a small space — 300-500 square feet — for potential street-level retail was added in an effort to address concerns that the initially proposed street-level parking garage would create a "dead zone" for retail. Whether or not retail space is included in the final plan is dependent on a number of factors.

Schiess received heavy criticism at the previous board meeting, with local architect and critic Garret Eakin calling the design "essentially a decorated box." Eakin writes a monthly architecture column for the Wednesday Journal.

At the direction of Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, Schiess worked with Eakin and two other local architects — Tom Bassett-Dilley and Jim Lencioni — to rework the design to reduce the bulk and height.

"In order to fulfill our vision of a building that the community can be proud of, this peer review will generate input from local architects whose work our development team respects and admires," Paul Zimmermann, principal of Altierra Group, had said in a news release last week.

Schiess said the work session aimed to present "a more aesthetically pleasing and architecturally interesting façade design to the board."

Eakin gave a more upbeat appraisal of the project on Monday, saying it was "a lot better" than the original design. "It's lighter, it's lower, it's not as big, there's some idea of making it human in scale," Eakin said. 

Schiess said the peer review resulted in a suggestion that moving some of the building's mechanical functions into the basement would create space to drop the height of the building by four feet. 

"That's fairly significant because during the plan commission, we were struggling to get it down even 1 foot," he said.

Schiess noted that there was a loss of square footage on the top floor, but the group aims to recapture some of the lost space with a green roof. The total net loss was about 2,000 square feet, he said.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Posted: June 21st, 2014 11:37 AM

Some of the principals in this project have been foreclosed and sued for not paying back their loans? How can we have any confidence in this team?

Lynda from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2014 11:08 AM

Speaking of Dead Zones. Chicago Ave. from Harlem to Marion was once very much alive with Zehenders Pharmacy, The Villager Food Market and the Elm Shop for gifts. Handy that the hardware store is still there and Alioto's is a fine shop, but I sure do miss walking to the grocer and pharmacy. That convenience and charm of Oak Park has disappeared from my neighborhood. Is a luxury condo a fitting choice next to a doggie day-care?


Posted: June 19th, 2014 1:55 PM

I hope Village of OP makes sure that this time Schiess doesn't build a taller structure or use the wrong material as he did on his previous project at the Opera Club. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/8-4-2006/Schiess-fined-$188K--for-condo-changes-/


Posted: June 18th, 2014 9:01 PM

Completely bogus as a so-called "improvement" in design. At least the old design had a faint solid Romanesque appeal to it. The new design is a cross between the Russianesque Whitco appearance and a Miami Beach '30s condo that has been condemned for sheer ugliness.


Posted: June 18th, 2014 11:56 AM

Wow, tuff crowd. If JP was still VP the meeting with the Prez, Arch and Arch eperts would have taken 3 years, rather than the short time this took. Congragulations to Anan for getting a movement rather than ........


Posted: June 18th, 2014 10:46 AM

300-500 ft? What is it retail for ants?

Ex-Retailer from The OP from Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 8:49 AM

That 300-500 feet of "retail" space will make a great office for the agent in charge of selling the 10 condos above. Or an accountants office. Either way, it will be empty within 12 months.


Posted: June 18th, 2014 6:05 AM

@neo, I think we're all just unhappy about more tasteless senseless architecture in OP. Tom-is absolutely right. Sell the condos prior. I rather see an empty lot then a tall empty building with a joke for retail space. Go develop somewhere else! FLW district doesn't need glorified apartments any more than it needs tacky architecture

NEOPer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2014 5:43 AM

It sounds to me like Mr. Gater-Murtagh is unhappy with his new Village President.

Tom from Oak Park   

Posted: June 17th, 2014 11:51 PM

I don't even want their market research. I want every unit sold prior to development. If they are so great, people should be tearing at their front door for first dibs. Without a single interested party to purchase and live their, I see the market speaking quite clearly. Must be about some sort of wealth transfer or subsidies. Follow g the cash flow always leads to the truth. And truth is that there are currently no buyers. So where exactly is the cash flow to give some real I sight?

Al Gater from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 10:34 PM

Been over a year now and we have not seen village officials breaking ground with golden shovel yet. Lot of old development plans in embryo stage with no signatures. At the same time the Pope agenda is making a comeback. The Living Wage is back and so is the Roosevelt TIF. The president is thinking about hiring someone to research the LW. Money must be flowing, Who knows, maybe we will have a Madison TIF 25th Anniversary Gala in 2015.

Samuel of OP  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 8:58 PM

What business would want a 300-500 sqft of retail space? A flower, hot dog or lemonade stand? Will they be able to afford the rent & taxes? What about parking? I'm happy the other architects gave their input on the very much needed redesign, however, the target market for these "luxury" condos doesn't exist anymore. This is an "old school" idea with developers & architects that are out of touch with the present & future generations & markets. It's too bad. Where's your mkt research?

Tom from Oak Park  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 8:10 PM

With so many failures to date... Whiteco, Lake and Forest and a plethora of others, how does the village quantify this the any different? If you were going to spend well over half a million dollars, why in the world would someone choose to live in a box of no architectural significance on a busy street?

Doug Stewart from Oak Park  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 7:08 PM

Still Bigger - but much more acceptable design. Thanks to all who participated and brought sense to the table.

Good Collaboration  

Posted: June 17th, 2014 3:42 PM

Would be great if the same happens on the Forest/Lake and South/Harlem. No more WhiteCo's ever again.

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