It didn’t take long for the collective wisdom and accumulating negative public response to bring Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb to issue a strong criticism of a plan to build a 28-story high-rise almost next door to Unity Temple. Five of six sitting trustees reached by a Journal reporter chimed in that the proposal from Golub and Company was super-sized and had to be rethought.
They’re right, of course. Adding seven floors more than any previous Oak Park building and then setting it next to one of the more notable architectural accomplishments in the world is bad planning. We are rightly back to the 1970s when the proposal for Oak Park’s first high-rise, the twin 55-story Stankus Towers at Forest and Lake, was laid low by the prospect of shadows over Wright’s temple. Add in concerns, too, over shadows on Scoville Park and something had to give.
Four thoughts: 1. Conspiracy theorists who believe the fix is always in and in favor of developers on these projects should take note. Wasn’t the case this time. 2. Public response is heard and often heeded. Albion is building a different high-rise than planned up the street based on strong concerns raised by residents. There will be no 28-story high-rise going up at Lake and Grove. 3. Golub and Company should open negotiations to expand its current proposed parcel by acquiring land along North Boulevard. Despite their protestations, as currently configured, this is a small lot and it inevitably leads to demands for more height. 4. Don’t mess with Unity Temple.