Change or status quo?

Opinion: Editorials

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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.

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Sarah Miyata from Sarah.miyata3@gmail.com  

Posted: September 4th, 2018 7:21 AM

I'm not sure where to begin with my comment- do I start with the arrogant manipulation? The insult? The patronizing? I have been a resident of OP close to 20 years and have lived in 2 homes during that time. I love OP's history, its culture, its diversity; I'm proud to live here and raise our children here. That said, I watched our property taxes double in the last 9 years, the academic achievement gap widen, either constant commercial turnover or vacant store fronts languish, duplication of tax-funded academic resources, flagrant mismanagemt of taxpayer dollars- it's always easy to spend other people's money. If OP's current and future leadership continue to make short-sighted decisions fueled by lack of accountability or social consciousness, I predict in 20 years OP will have long lost its prided historical charm only to be replaced by these generic, ultra-expensive, high-taxed condos to which you refer. OP will be nothing more than a suburb home to transient and homogenous residents bc we all know downsizing families do not want to pay these exorbitant property taxes either. I'm very much in favor of change. How about using my taxes to honestly address the achievement gap?? There you have it.

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