A local developer is asking Oak Park's preservation commission for permission to demolish a 119-year-old house at 224 S. Marion St., directly adjacent to Mills Park, to make room for what likely would be a condo building.
David Lehman will appear before the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission on Aug. 30 to make his case that the building should not be considered as contributing to the historic district. The meeting takes place at 7:30 p.m. in room 201 at Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison St.
The 3,300-square-foot residential building, owned by Andrew Palomo under the name 224 South Marion LLC, has been used as office space for years, Lehman said in a telephone interview.
Lehman has the structure under contract to purchase — if the demolition is approved by the preservation commission.
He said zoning for the property would allow a 60-foot-tall building, which could be about five stories. He estimates the property would include about 10 to 12 condominium units, about 2,000 to 2,500 square feet each.
The building would entail a 15-fold increase in tax revenue from the site versus its current use, and it "would provide a much-needed housing option for empty-nesters looking to move out of their 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot homes," Lehman said, noting that the proposal is consistent with the goals of Oak Park's Comprehensive Plan for downtown, which aims to redevelop land within a quarter-mile of trains that lead to downtown Chicago.
Oak Park Village Planner Craig Failor said there are a couple of options for Lehman if the commission denies his application for a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition: He can appeal to the Oak Park Board of Trustees or he can file for a certificate of economic hardship.
The economic hardship appeal would argue that the building could not remain on the site from a financial standpoint, for example, if it were uninhabitable and prohibitively expensive to repair.
Lehman said he likely would go to the Oak Park Board of Trustees to appeal the decision if he is denied by the commission.
"I think with this property, why I chose it, is that there are very few properties that overlook a park that are in downtown," he said, calling it the "ideal development site."
Lehman noted that the building would be located on the north side of Mills Park, arguing that its location would prevent shadows from being cast over the park.
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