Multiple proposed and planned real estate developments hang in limbo as the village of Oak Park and developers try to navigate novel complications in the development hearing process brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Oak Park Development Customer Services Director Tammie Grossman, not much has changed since Wednesday Journal published a development update in May.
“We’re pretty much at the same place we were at last month – still working with developers, who are by behind the scenes trying to get their applications submitted, and reviewing draft applications, which we do for everybody,” Grossman said.
State mandates preventing gatherings of more than 10 people have complicated the public hearing process, Grossman said. Public hearings require the opportunity for sworn testimony and the meetings can last for hours.
“It’s very difficult to do public hearings using remote participation,” said Grossman. “We’ve just been kind of waiting to see if we’re going to get additional guidance from the state or when things move to the next phase [of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois], what those new rules might be.”
Taco Bell, 6000-20 Roosevelt Rd.
“That’s still in the middle of a public hearing,” said Grossman. “They got a continuum.”
The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) agreed March 5 to delay its ruling on the special use and zoning variances needed to build the drive-thru franchise Taco Bell, at the request of applicant Ampler Development; Ampler Development wanted more time to collect additional traffic data.
The public hearing was set to resume April 1, but that meeting was canceled due to the statewide shutdown to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Ampler Development has not been deterred from its goal to build a Taco Bell at that Roosevelt location.
“They’re still wanting to move forward,” said Grossman. “I can’t remember if we got an updated traffic study from them or not.”
If the village had received the updated traffic study, it would not yet be posted online for public perusal anyway.
“We review it internally and then we might suggest they review certain things, and then they post it,” she said.
When the ZBA will start meeting again depends on the rules related to holding public meetings when the village moves into Pritzker’s phase four.
Pete’s Fresh Market, Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street
Pete’s Fresh Market has still yet to submit a formal application to build a new grocery store location on Madison Street, across from the approved American House/REDICO senior housing development.
“We do have a draft application that we’ve been talking to them about and making suggestions on, primarily engineering suggestions,” said Grossman. “They’re still draft documents.”
Village staff reviews draft documents and suggests changes to prospective developers. Staff makes note of what changes, if any, prospective developers decline to make. Staff then presents that information to the Plan Commission during the staff report portion of the meeting.
Prior to COVID-19, Pete’s had hosted two public meetings, but had planned a third at the direction of village staff. Pete’s had to cancel the third meeting due to the virus.
American House/REDICO senior living, 711-725 Madison St.
The village board approved the seven-story, 174-unit senior living community back in February after the proposal went through the Plan Commission. Since then, the developer has been working on developing final construction plans.
“I think they submitted some preliminary drawings, but we’re still reviewing them,” said Grossman.
She noted that the developer had yet to submit an application for a construction permit.
Rush Oak Park Hospital garage, Wenonah Avenue and Monroe Street.
Rush Oak Park Hospital’s plan to build a 713-space parking structure at the corner of Wenonah Avenue and Monroe Street scored a positive recommendation from the Plan Commission March 5 with the condition to remove one level. The village board has yet to vote on the proposal.
Rush Oak Park Hospital also owns three consecutive residential properties on Maple Avenue, but the hospital’s plans for the properties remain undetermined, Rush Oak Park spokesman Bradley Spencer told Wednesday Journal back in January.
“Specific use for these properties has not yet been finalized,” said Spencer. “The process of determining their future use will involve discussing with many stakeholders.”
Plans for those properties have apparently begun to materialize, as Grossman said the hospital wanted to have them rezoned for hospital use.
“They want to do some rezoning and want to take everything back to the village board in one package,” said Grossman. “We can’t do the rezoning because we haven’t had a public hearing yet.”
Rush Oak Park Hospital has received criticism from the Plan Commission and residents alike for the lack of a master plan accessible to the public.
Holiday Inn, 1140 Lake St.
Following a recommendation from the ZBA, the village board approved a proposal to put a Holiday Inn hotel at 1140 Lake St on Nov. 19. The plan proposes adding three floors to the already five-story building. At the moment, the new Holiday Inn’s progress is at a standstill.
“We haven’t gotten any permit applications yet,” Grossman said.
The Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) also had yet to receive any updates regarding the progress of the hotel.
“I haven’t heard anything on Holiday Inn,” said OPEDC Executive Director John Lynch.
OPEDC Economic Development Director Vik Schrader, agreed, saying, “Nothing on Holiday Inn that I’m aware of.”
Drechsler, Brown & Williams, 203 S. Marion St.
In February, the OPEDC confirmed that the Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home property was under contract pending village board approval for residential use with the possibility of a very small retail unit at the corner of Marion and Pleasant streets.
“We have been in conversations with the potential purchaser of that property,” said Grossman. “Again, that’s another one that where they’re submitting some documents to us and we’re reviewing them.”
The developer with the contract for the 34,000-square-foot parcel of land has yet to be announced to the public.
Any proposed development for that property has to have a public hearing before the Plan Commission, as well as the Historic Preservation Commission, because the property is within the Ridgeland-Oak Park Historic District.