More than 100 Oak Parkers turned out Monday evening to the 19th Century Club for the first public meeting by Golub & Company on the developer’s plan to build a 28-story luxury apartment building at 835 Lake St.
The development team, headed by Golub senior vice president Michael Glazier, gave a short presentation and then took questions from concerned residents, most of whom were opposed to the project.
The proposal by Golub, which built the 21-story Vantage apartment building at 150 Forest Ave. in 2016, would be the largest structure in Oak Park, standing 299 feet tall and including 256 apartment units.
The building would take the place of the U.S. Bank drive-thru branch currently at the location, less than a half block away from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple at 875 Lake St.
Glazier said the ground level of the structure would include a 3,500-square-foot U.S. Bank branch and drive-thru and would ultimately result in the bank pulling out of its current long-time location at 104 N. Oak Park Ave.
The proposal also would include a 185-space parking garage, 10 of which would be used by bank customers.
Residents largely voiced opposition to the project, arguing that the building is out of scale with surrounding structures and would cast large shadows on the nearby Unity Temple and Scoville Park. They said it would increase traffic congestion in the area and would be an eyesore.
Tom Bassett-Dilley, an Oak Park-based architect, praised the effort put into the design of the structure, but said the density was too much for the area. Glazier said Oak Park’s Greater Downtown Master Plan, crafted some 10 years ago, calls for development that would bring some 1,200 new units into the area and that existing high-rise developments like Vantage, the Emerson Apartments at 1135 Westgate St., and Eleven33 near South Boulevard and Harlem, have will introduced some 1,000 new units to the area.
Glazier said the new Golub building would bring the number closer to 1,200 units.
Bassett-Dilley disputed Glazier’s assertion, saying, “The planning document that you refer to does not call for this kind of density or height in this location …”
He said a consolidation of power in the village and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, a business development organization largely funded by the village, “is overriding our planning documents.”
Bassett-Dilley also strongly objected to the shadow that would be cast over Unity Temple, a structure considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces. Representatives of Unity Temple were in the audience.
“I want to ask you why you think it’s OK to throw a shadow on that building every morning, every time there’s a service going on throughout the entire year,” he said.
Glazier was prompted by the audience to answer the question, stating: “I thought that was a rhetorical question.” Golub did present its shadow studies related to both Unity Temple and Scoville Park during its presentation.
He noted that adjacent structures such as the six-story Oak Hotel, 855 Lake St., already cast shadows on Unity Temple.
Several residents asked about Golub’s plan to include affordable units in the structure. The Oak Park village board recently began work on establishing an inclusionary zoning ordinance that would require such developments to include affordable units or contribute to an affordable housing fund, but it’s uncertain whether the ordinance will be approved prior to the Golub project’s review process.
Golub did not include any affordable units in its Vantage development and did not contribute funds toward affordable housing efforts.
Glazier said Golub aims to submit its proposal later this year and work its way through the planning and approval process by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
Alicia Chastain, who is working with other Oak Parkers to get the board of trustees to establish an inclusionary zoning ordinance (IZO), said she is pushing for a 20 percent affordable housing requirement on large residential developments like Golub proposes.
“That would be about 51 units for the development you propose,” she said, asking what Golub is willing to contribute if the IZO is not approved prior to the development.
Glazier said Golub would not likely contribute anything outside of an ordinance requiring the company to do so. “We’ve considered contributions but the magnitude of that is not known,” he said.
Laura Stamp, who was a vocal opponent of the Albion high-rise development at the corner of Lake and Forest, said she also opposed this project and encouraged residents to contact trustees and voice their opposition.
She said trustees on the current Oak Park village board are “willing and happy to give away our cultural assets.”
Stamp said the board should wait to consider approval of the Golub project until after the April 2 election that will bring three new trustees onto the board.
She noted that two trustees who campaigned against the Albion project – Deno Andrews and Dan Moroney – flipped and voted in favor of the project, despite their campaign promises.
“You need to vote and elect people with actual integrity,” she said.
* This story was updated to note that the 10 parking spots planned for the U.S. Bank branch will be for customers, not employees.