Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation has released a letter stating its opposition to the proposed 28-story tower proposed by developer Golub & Company about half a block away from Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Unity Temple.
The proposed 299-foot building would be located at 835 Lake St., where a U.S. Bank drive-thru is now located. Unity Temple is at 875 Lake St., and opponents of the project have argued that the shadow cast over the temple would detract from the magnificence of the structure.
“On behalf of the congregation … we the board of trustees oppose the current development plans for 835 Lake St., Oak Park, as proposed by Golub & Co. developers,” the letter reads.
“As elected stewards of Unity Temple, we take seriously and reaffirm our obligation and our commitment to protect this building as both our sacred space for worship and as an historical architectural treasure of local, regional, national and international importance,” the letter states. “We share with the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation serious concerns with any development that poses risk to Unity Temple either physically, aesthetically, or experientially.”
Golub vice president Michael Glazier said in an email that the company agrees that the development “should be conducted in a thoughtful, transparent and inclusive process.”
“That’s why we have not yet filed an application for a redevelopment agreement as we evaluate possible revisions to the design,” Glazier said. “We will make every effort to continue to have a positive, respectful dialogue with community stakeholders in any proposal we submit for approval.”
The congregation letter notes that it supports development “that is within the current zoning guidelines” adding that “any proposed development that is outside the current zoning guidelines must be evaluated through a thoughtful, inclusive, and transparent process that considers impact and appropriateness, and includes meaningful community participation.”
The letter continues by saying that the opposition stems from “one of our faith’s core principles: ‘to affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.'”
The congregation also urges the Village of Oak Park to “pursue, in thoughtful and inclusive discussion with the community, what would best serve our community in this space.”
The announcement comes a few weeks after Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, and five of the six other members of the board, announced opposition to the height and density of the proposal.
“I do not envision, nor do I support, a 28-story building on this site,” Abu-Taleb wrote in a letter on Dec. 5. “I have, therefore, asked Golub to revisit its plans and explore other options that would not place Oak Park’s tallest building in this location.”
The Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, which oversaw the $25 million restoration of the historic building and continues to raise funds to pay for the project, also released a letter this week but did not outright oppose the proposed building.
“Any high rise development on an adjacent site could have negative effects on Unity Temple during the construction process, as well as create a long-term impact by casting shadows on the building, thus interfering with Frank Lloyd Wright’s design intent,” the restoration foundation letter states.
The group said it aims to “engage in dialogue with village officials and developers to ensure that our concerns with regard to the integrity of Unity Temple are appropriately considered and successfully remedied.”