Rendering of what could replace the building at Forest Avenue and Lake Street. (Humphrys & Partners Architectures L.P.)

A two-story brick building, built in 1956 as Lytton’s Department Store in downtown Oak Park, would be torn down to make room for an eight-story mixed-use apartment building, under a proposal submitted to Oak Park village government in November.

UrbanStreet Group purchased the building at 1000 Lake St., and an adjacent seven-story office building at 1010 Lake St., for $6.95 million in August. Now, along with partner North American Properties, the developer wants to build 140 apartment units with 195 parking spaces.

The contemporary courtyard design uses a combination of brick, glass, renaissance stone and other materials for the façade; however, the exact materials were not available. 

Robert Burk, a managing partner at UrbanStreet, said in a telephone interview that the plans are preliminary and the final proposal could look very different though the scale of the project is fairly well set.

“We’re really taking a step back,” he said, adding that UrbanStreet is “reevaluating the whole project.”

He said the number of apartment units and parking spaces are likely to stay about the same. “It might be a little taller; it might be a different shape,” he said.

“It’s a very exciting site for us and we want to make sure that what we end up designing there is the best building for that site,” he said.

He said it is uncertain exactly when UrbanStreet will return to the village to begin work with the planning department, but noted the group will spend the next few months working on the site design.

The proposal puts retail on the ground floor, parking underground and on the first and second floors and apartments on the third through sixth floors, according to renderings submitted to the village. The development also would include an outdoor pool on the third floor and a fitness club for residents. 

Humphreys & Partners Architects LLC is identified as the architectural firm on the renderings.

UrbanStreet and North American submitted the preliminary proposal to the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission Architectural Review Committee in November.

Doug Karre, an urban planner with the village who serves as staff to the commission, said the developers were required to submit plans to the commission because the building is within 250 feet of the Nineteenth Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., which is designated an historic landmark.

Karre also noted that the design is preliminary and that UrbanStreet and North American wanted to get the Historic Preservation Committee’s opinion on the proposal early, so they have a more developed proposal once they are ready to submitted a planned development.

The review committee critiqued the variety of materials used for the façade, noting that it “has a lot going on in terms of changes in plan as well as a number of different materials,” according to minutes from the November meeting.

The committee also discussed moving the garage entry further back from Lake Street and requested renderings of the facades of the building that face north toward the Nineteenth Century Club and Austin Gardens.

Village Planner Craig Failor said the developers are trying to design the building to fit in contextually with others in the business district. 

“(The proposal) looked like something that would fit in with the materials on Lake Street,” he said.

Failor said the group will next submit a proposal for the village project review team and then a planned development, outlining their plans for the site.

UrbanStreet and North American might need approval from the village for exceptions from Oak Park’s zoning ordinance. The building, for instance, would stand just under 90 feet tall, but the local zoning ordinance disallows anything over 80 feet.

Burk said that in addition to the new construction, UrbanStreet plans to renovate the 1010 Lake St. building, which will include improvements to the common area and reconfiguring and expansion of ground-level retail.

He said the group also plans to upgrade an outdoor plaza area between the 1000 and 1010 Lake Street buildings. “The plaza will be activated as a public space and lead back to the offices,” he said.


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