Something will be built at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren. Gravel parking lots on key commercial strips seldom remain gravel parking lots.

There is an interesting proposal on the table. A respected nonprofit, The Community Builders, wants to build a four-story, 37-unit, mixed-use, affordable housing project. This is affordable as in working people making minimum wage, or somewhat above, having an appealing housing option in a community where they might work as a teacher’s aide, a cook, a cashier at Starbucks. 

Not to our surprise, there is opposition from some immediate and nearby neighbors. Of course they deny they are NIMBYs. Has anyone ever admitted to being a NIMBY?

This isn’t about affordable housing, they said at a neighborhood meeting last week. They point to the opposition by neighbors years back when Community Bank wanted to build a branch with a drive-thru on the site. That would have clogged their alley, they argued then. Now they want the minimum impact of high-end townhomes or condos.

Like every single set of opponents to every affordable housing project ever proposed, the neighbors swear this is all about parking, height, traffic and not the project’s affordable focus. We’re not buying it.

Oak Park needs affordable housing. And the success of the Grove Apartments (above Sugar Beet on Madison) after vociferous neighborhood scare tactics proves that such housing is a great addition to the mix the village offers. 

Let’s move this strong project ahead.

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