Local architect John Schiess and his business partners presented a plan for the two historic buildings at Oak Park Avenue and South Boulevard to the plan commission Monday, but a neighbor unhappy with the adjoining building’s setback could slow the development’s progress.
Bob Ransom, whose family owns an office building at 711 South Blvd., says the proposed four-story, L-shaped building-behind the historically designated former Val’s halla and Thyme and Honey buildings-will block the views from windows on the west side of his office building.
Ransom rents 12 offices to small businesses in the building for around $600 a month. Ten of the offices have windows, installed in 2005, which would have their views and ventilation blocked if the new “Avenue Club” building is built as planned. Thus, Ransom claims, the office would lose 4-6 tenants because of decreased desirability.
The building was without windows on the west side when it opened in 1967, but Ransom says office tenants have changed their desire in recent years, changing the market’s dynamics.
“To lose the windows located on the west side of our building would create a hardship to our tenants, both present and future, as well as the future marketability of our office building,” said Ransom, who hired a lawyer and urban planner to help illustrate his point.
He also worries what impact the 42 new units might have on the already dense neighborhood’s traffic.
Schiess and his team said they’re willing to work with Ransom to try and come to a reasonable solution, but at the same time questioned whether the windows were mistakenly granted. Village codes say windows can’t be added along the commercial building’s property line, the project’s architect, Victor Dziekiewicz noted.
The commission also raised issue the L-shaped building’s design, asking that the project’s team return next month with a more creative rendering. Some commissioners even said they’d accept a taller idea for the building toward the rear.
Commissioner David Wallin asked for an independent audit of the developer’s balance sheet, worried that they might not be able to finance the project if condo sales are exceedingly slow.
Once approved, the project will take about 2-2.5 years to construct. Those involved believe units, priced between $200,000 and $300,000, will sell at a rate of about 1 to 1.5 per month.
The building will also add about 2,900 square feet of commercial space, which the developer hopes to lease, in addition to the current retail space. The 42 units above will be condominiums, but could be leased too, depending on the market. It also incorporates 104 parking spots, nine less than required.
Papaspiros Greek Taverna was formerly attached to the project but is now renovating its current space on Lake Street.
The plan commission will reconvene for more testimony on Dec. 20, incorporating findings from the Transportation and Historic Preservation commissions before voting on the development.
Commission approves Madison and Grove development
The plan commission recommended a mixed-use development at Madison Street and Grove at its Oct. 25 meeting.
Located at 827-833 Madison Street, the development will feature 36 condos and over 4,000 square feet of retail space. The village board will vote on the development in January
Marion Street building heights restricted
The plan commission unanimously approved a new overlay district which would limit building heights on the new Marion Street to 45 feet (four stories), shrinking from the current limit of 125 feet.
The district also requires any new developments to stay at a one-foot setback, matching current properties along the street.
Village Planner Craig Failor said the overlay allows the village to preserve the new Marion Street’s character and appearance and prevents oversized condominium or townhome buildings from being constructed on the street.
After another hearing on the overlay district, the village board will make a final decision on it, likely sometime early next year.