Development doesn't have to be tall to have retail

Opinion

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I enjoyed Drew Carter's article concerning a "larger Madison Street vision" ("Neighbors ask Schiess for larger Madison St. vision," June 22). It contained a reasonable reflection of the issues that must be addressed at a community-wide level. However, there is one point that was made by architect John Schiess that was misleading.

In the article, Schiess stated that "zoning allows for a height of 50 feet, but that his building would rise to 74 feet, owing in part to first-floor commercial, which requires more height." Not so!

I have enclosed a photograph of the new building located at 7241 Madison St. in Forest Park. It stands 47 feet tall to the roof and 53 feet tall to the parapets. It contains retail on the first floor, and it includes some features that might prove useful to Mr. Schiess as he modifies his proposal.

It appears that the proposed structure for the 827 W. Madison St. site must be 74 feet tall simply because Mr. Schiess wants it to be 74 feet tall.

My neighbors and I look forward to discussing the possibilities available for revitalizing the Madison Street retail district in our area.

To be successful, any proposed development within the region would need to be eye-catching, pedestrian-friendly, and attractive, and it must provide adequately for parking.

Dating back to the 1970s, every study regarding the development of Madison Street shares a common theme: The addition of residential units should be secondary to the provision of retail/commercial space. This is, perhaps, the final opportunity for Oak Park to shape the development of the Madison Street district in the manner for which it was intended.

Unfortunately, the building that Mr. Schiess is proposing would take the street in the opposite direction.

Ted Despotes
Oak Park

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