A 21-unit townhouse development will soon rise on the property formerly occupied by the Oak Park School District 97 administrative building and Robinson’s Ribs on Madison Street.

The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved the project, which runs from 932 to 970 Madison St., at a meeting on May 21.

The administration building and popular barbecue restaurant already have been demolished. The school district and business have relocated to 260 and 848 Madison St., respectively.

The site plan for the project by Lexington Homes LLC, places the bulk of the residences facing Madison Street, while the remainder will front Home Avenue.

Lexington will soon begin work the four-story structure made primarily of brick and prefinished cement fiber panels. 

The Plan Commission, which reviewed the project prior to the Board of Trustees, voted 7 to 1 in favor of the townhouse development. A village memo noted that the dissenting vote “was due to a concern the proposed architectural design was not on par with Oak Park’s architectural significance.”

Plan Commission Chairman David Mann told trustees at the May 21 meeting that the proposal underwent several adjustments at the request of the commission, such as adding more windows on the side of the building and larger windows on the façade. 

“We didn’t want big, blank walls on the public ways,” he said.

The final renderings of the proposal were met with mixed reactions by trustees. The board originally directed the Plan Commission to work with Lexington to develop a more architecturally significant design, but some trustees said they found the new proposal still lacking.

“I don’t see anything that strikes me as being an improvement,” Trustee Simone Boutet said. “I thought we were looking for something innovative and up to the standard of Oak Park’s architectural history.”

Trustee Dan Moroney, who originally voted against choosing Lexington as the preferred developer for the project, said he believed the new design was significantly different than the original.

“Townhomes are rarely awe-inspiring, and we did select the use to be a townhome,” he said, adding that he wants good architecture but urged trustees to be realistic about what they approved in choosing a preferred developer.  

Trustee Deno Andrews called the proposal underwhelming, but praised Lexington for being amenable to the Plan Commission’s design changes.

He criticized the process of having such a small window of time to review the final proposal before voting.

“In the future I would rather see some renderings before we pick a project,” he said. “This time we picked a project on the other renderings, and now … this is kind of the first time I’m looking at the building and voting on it, not having a lot of time to digest how this is going to look.”

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Join the discussion on social media!

16 replies on “Townhomes to replace D97 HQ on Madison Street”