Oak Park’s village board rightly chose to table discussion Monday of a proposed apartment building project for the corner of Madison Street and Gunderson. Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and all trustees said the developer, Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group, needed to take its recently revised plan for the structure back to neighbors for a consult.
But possibly not enough direction. At some point the village board will need to follow the lead of its Plan Commission which unanimously rejected the developer’s plan as simply too big for the limited plot of land and too imposing to its residential neighbors to the south.
Chipping this project down around the edges won’t do it. A floor has to be lopped off the top for starters, and the face the building presents to its southern neighbors is monolithic and needs to be warmed up.
We’re fans of the headway Oak Park has made in reimagining Madison Street. After 40 years of ignoring its decline, the current administration has worked hard to rezone this street to allow residential construction and lessen requirements for retail that will never fill this street again.
So replacing a faded and likely structurally unsound old automotive relic with modern apartments is all good. The current plan though is just supersized.
Neighbors we’ve spoken to profess to be open, even eager, for new development on the corner. Just not this much development. There is a middle ground. Likely a project that neighbors are slightly uncomfortable with. In our view, Michigan Avenue Real Estate can either get the message and rethink this project or they can walk away. Tough to be tough to a prized developer when the economy has cratered, but the village board needs to take the long view. Move Madison forward but don’t overwhelm it.