It is always nice when the Plan Commission is happy. Doesn’t happen often. But it did last week when the District House mixed-use project came before this volunteer Oak Park advisory commission.
Why did the commissioners like the four-story, 28-condo-unit, limited-retail proposal that will replace the vacant Tasty Dog on Lake Street at Euclid Avenue? Let’s count the ways.
As we’ve said for months, this building is just good looking. In an era when Oak Park’s in-fill projects have been, at best, pedestrian, and at worst, gloomy blocks of stacked brick, District House is light, airy and modern.
Floyd Anderson, the architect the village government hires to advise on design issues, told the Plan Commission, “Frankly, it’s one of the better-looking projects I’ve seen in the village in quite some time.”
Ranquist Development proposed a building in scale with the neighborhood and with an upscale appeal suitable to what many consider the best development site in Oak Park.
This process has been sped by the confidence of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, which has actively sought to bring Ranquist to Oak Park for the past half-dozen years. Officials watched their developments go up smoothly and successfully in the city and recruited them here.
As Oak Park shifts the perception that its government is an active impediment, luring more choice developers to town will raise the quality of design and raise the bar for other architects and developers.
Ranquist also quietly and confidently ran the Oak Park gauntlet of meetings with both residential neighbors and leaders of the Hemingway District business association. They presented, they listened, they adjusted a little.
After a warm reception from the Plan Commission, they will come back in July with a bit more detailed information on the green roof, the loading area and other specifics. Then on to deserved approval from the village board with construction to follow.