Members of Neighbors for Madison Renewal (NMR) say architect John Schiess has some work to do before his plans for redevelopment of the south side of the 800 block of Madison Street?#34;all the property from Oak Park Avenue west to Carpenter?#34;are amenable to them.

“He’s not even close,” said Lisa Sigel of the 600 block of South Grove Avenue.

Schiess met with neighbors last week to discuss three design options, all of which called for some townhouses and a mixed-use (first-floor retail with one- and two-bedroom condominiums above) building at the Madison/Oak Park corner, according to neighbors attending the meeting. The Sears Pharmacy building would be demolished under these plans.

Neighbors did not like that Schiess’ three options all called for the village’s vacating Grove from Madison south to the alley, and that mixed-use buildings in the designs were taller than the 50-foot-limit imposed by zoning laws.

“I don’t think we moved forward very much,” said Ted Despotes of the 500 block of South Oak Park Avenue.

But Despotes and others found some redeeming aspects in the presentation. Schiess designed the mixed-use buildings (one option calls for two condo/retail buildings, one at Madison/Oak Park, the other at Madison/Carpenter) with a 10-foot-deep arcade on the retail sides of the buildings. In other words, the first-floor retail spaces would be set back, creating an overhang protecting walkers from sun and rain.

“I kind of liked that because [what’s now used as sidewalks] could be turned into grass, or whatever we as a village decide is best,” Despotes said.

Linda Hill, of the 500 block of South Grove Avenue, added in an e-mail message that Schiess addressed traffic flow concerns, but did make explain how the plan did so in her message.

Schiess did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Neighbors say Schiess’ plan should address the guidelines they laid out in a seven-page document (see sidebar). Neighbors said 25 people attended the meeting, including trustees Greg Marsey and Ray Johnson and village staff members.


Neighbor’s produce their own plan

Neighbors for Madison Renewal (NMR), the group of residents that got together to address concerns of proposed development on the 800 block of Madison Street, released its own development guidelines for the corridor last week.

The document addresses Oak Park trustees, asking them to consider their document a master plan for Madison until a village-funded study is expected to produce a plan at the end of March 2006.

The seven-page guidelines document “represents the consensus opinion” of NMR members and other Madison-area residents. It encourages a “holistic view” be considered and applied to any proposed developments on the corridor.

Neighbors lay out five objectives with hopes that redevelopment of Madison will make it more pedestrian friendly, a place with shopping opportunities, have an “open, inviting, welcoming and interesting” view down the street, be safe and not congested with traffic.

Neighbors want to limit the height of all buildings to 50 feet, the ceiling set by Oak Park’s zoning code, and push new buildings back from sidewalks shrunken by a more narrow Madison going west from Oak Park Avenue.

The plan also calls for environmentally friendly building practices and preserving “the residential character of neighborhoods.”

?#34;Drew Carter

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