After months of discussion, the Oak Park Plan Commission voted March 5 without fanfare to recommend the village board approve Rush Oak Park Hospital’s plans to construct a 713-space parking garage at the corner of Wenonah Avenue and Monroe Street.

The move to recommend approval of a special use permit to build the garage came with a number of conditions set by commissioners, most notably requirements to lower the height by 10 feet, 8 inches (essentially an entire floor); hold quarterly meetings with neighbors throughout construction, plus one year after; and update the traffic study to reflect the Madison Street reconfiguration.

Perhaps the biggest condition, the height decrease would take the building down an entire floor. The current garage plans call for a height of just below 70 feet. At the Feb. 25 plan commission meeting, Rush Oak Park Hospital VP of Operations Robert Spadoni said removal of a floor was “cost prohibitive.”

However, Spadoni agreed to look into reducing the height. He also reminded the commission that the 70 feet requested height was below the maximum 80 feet height current zoning allowed.

“Just so we’re clear, this is zoned H and in H, we can build what we’re due, but we’re trying to be a good neighbor in that regard,” Spadoni said. “That’s why we spent the time and energy and the money and work with the neighbors to get to this.”

The plan commission also voted March 5 to recommend the board approve the hospital’s plans to vacate a portion of Monroe Street between Wisconsin and Wenonah avenues.

“If the village board approves the vacation, that would allow the village to sell the property at an appraised value to the hospital for its use as private property,” Village Planner Craig Failor explained to the commission.

The plan commission discussed and had come to a consensus previously on the project, but failed to secure the required number of votes, due to the absence of three commissioners. 

Two of the commissioners who missed the previous meeting were in attendance March 5 and voted on both the special use permit and the street vacation, after saying on the record that they had reviewed the plans and listened to the recording of the meeting they missed. 

With their votes, the plan commission was able to successfully recommend the project to the village board. The village board will decide whether or not to allow construction of the garage at a future village board meeting.

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