By Anna Lothson
Plans for a daycare center that fell through on South Oak Park Avenue nearly a year ago are shifting to South Marion Street.
In October 2011, Oak Leaf Academy, a daycare center for children, age six weeks to 6 years, received approval to operate on South Oak Park Avenue, but the space never opened up.
Earlier this month, Oak Park resident JoAnn Gantar and River Forest resident Melissa Lumkes filed an application to move into 206-208 S. Marion instead. The issue was on Tuesday's village board agenda because it required approval to refer the application to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a public hearing. The special use permit is needed at the new location because of the type of business.
Mike Fox, the landlord of the property, said the space is about 4,000 square feet and is well equipped for the academy. Maison Suzanne, a retail furniture and antiques store, is looking to sublet the space, he said, and being on the tail end of Marion Street is an ideal location for the center.
"I think they will be a good option," said Fox. "They are an independent ma and pa, which is what most of our tenants are. I see this as a nice use of our space."
Turning the Pleasant District into a retail overlay district was discussed last month by the village board, but trustees voted the measure down. Fox, who spoke against the overlay, said it's ideal to attract retail to the area, but the market hasn't allowed for it.
"Certainly the right kind of retail would be nice," Fox said. "But the right kind of retail isn't always there."
As part of the special-use requirements, the applicants had to respond to a number of questions. They explained that a daycare center will bring consumers to downtown Oak Park and promote local businesses. The plans include hiring approximately 14 employees for a maximum of 83 children.
If Oak Leaf Academy receives approval, the applicants hope to be in the space by November. Construction would start as soon as a lease is signed to meet the Department of Child and Family Services licensing standards and Oak Park village codes, according to the report.
An opening date of January 2013 is projected.
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