Before the week is out, Oak Park's Historic Preservation Commission will discuss a proposal to demolish a handsome old single-family home on Marion Street, used for decades as office space, and replace it with a moderately-sized condo project.
We know the arguments on both sides of what will become a debate where this single, interesting property becomes the most immediate stand-in for the more fundamental debate over change and density in our town.
The house-turned-office space sits at 224 S. Marion St. That makes it the southernmost parcel of the downtown district along the east side of Marion. It fronts to the north on a parking lot for the Carleton Hotel. To both its east and south it fronts on lovely Mills Park.
It is a classic Craftsman-style home, though one still sheathed in asbestos shingles straight from the 1950s. Along with one other home-turned-offices two doors north, this home is artfully out of place. It's handsome, but it would be hard to argue historic beyond its decades in place.
Both current zoning and the village's Comprehensive Plan have pegged it for more intense residential and mixed-use redevelopment. And there is a local developer who has a contract to buy the parcel if he can win a demolition permit from the village.
David Lehman's plans are for a 10- to 12-unit upscale condo building that with floor-to-ceiling windows and wide terraces take full advantage of the unmatched views Mills Park offers. He argues, and we agree, there is an opening in the market for more spacious and upscale condos for downsizing local families. Both District House on Lake Street and Maple Place on Chicago Avenue reinforce that point. And the notable hike in property taxes that this project would generate is also important.
But the discussion is a worthy one and we look forward to watching it play out in public session.
Answer Book 2018
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