Oak Park residents got their first look last week at a new mixed-use development planned for the site of the former Tasty Dog restaurant at the northwest corner of Lake Street and Euclid Avenue.
The development team headed by Ranquist Development Group held a forum at Oak Park Public Library on March 16 to detail their plans for District House, a five-story, 28-unit condo building with 4,500 square feet of ground-level retail space for two or three businesses.
Developer Bob Ranquist said his group began looking for property to develop in Oak Park for about two years ago and jumped at the opportunity when the Tasty Dog site went on the market.
The beloved hot dog joint made headlines last year when the village of Oak Park, which owns the property at 708 Lake St., evicted the owner for failure to pay rent.
Ranquist said he’s been working with the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, which is tasked with bringing business to the village, to find a spot for the development.
“This site is perfect for what we do,” he said.
Roughly two dozen neighbors attended the open house that encouraged residents to speak with the development team one-on-one, rather than in a group setting.
Ranquist released renderings and blueprints of the proposal.
The development has been named District House and is expected to cost an estimated $17.1 million to build, according to Ranquist Development Group. The condos will include three bedrooms and three baths and will range in size from 1,700 to 2,000 square feet. They are expected to run in the high $500,000 to low $800,000 range. A parking garage in the structure will include 38 spaces.
The Ranquist team plans to make it a LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified building for environmental sustainability.
Ranquist said he’d like to see the project completed by fall 2017.
Christopher Dillion, president of Campbell Coyle Real Estate, said the horizontal elements in the modern building “are a very intentional nod to [famed Oak Park architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s] Prairie Style, but they also serve a functional use in the sense that they act as sunshades, they help us achieve our sustainability goals for the project and our energy efficiency goals.”
“We’re trying to draw from the past but look forward,” Dillion said.
Austin DePree, of Northworks Architects and Planners, described the location as a “gateway to Lake Street,” adding, “We’re trying to do something exciting and that’s not repetitive.”
Ranquist still will need zoning variances for the height of the building and setback requirements that put the project at or near the lot line. Dillion said the group expects to submit a planned development proposal to the village in the coming weeks.
Though most residents declined to comment on the project, one woman who asked to remain anonymous said she was worried about the traffic the building would bring to the already busy commercial corridor.
Neighbor Chuck Mann sent an email to Wednesday Journal following the meeting, saying he was worried about the density of the project, its impact on traffic and parking in the area.
“Also, if the main entrance is on Lake Street, I think the traffic could be a nightmare for local residents coming home and potentially could impact emergency traffic coming out of the fire station farther down the street,” Mann wrote.
Mann also said he believes Tasty Dog was the only tenant on the block with adequate parking, and he’d rather see a drive-thru Starbuck’s restaurant.
“It seems the village is more interested in generating property taxes from putting up more condos than what would work best for the neighborhood and area,” he said.
Ranquist said that he and his team are starting with the Tasty Dog site but are interested in building more in Oak Park. He said the group already looked at another village-owned property – a parking lot at the northeast corner of Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street.
“We took a peek at Madison, but we’re more interested at this point in getting this thing up and running,” Ranquist said. “Once we know for sure that it’s going to happen, and we have every reason to believe it will, then we’ll start looking into what else is available.”