Lake Street may get another apartment building as development company Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group (MAREG) has plans in store for the U.S. Bank drive-up at 835 Lake St., just steps away from Unity Temple. The site is west of Oak Park Avenue and east of Kenilworth.
MAREG plans to construct a six-story building with 84 rental units, 88 parking spots and a pedestrian entrance facing Lake Street, according to a letter sent to the Historic Preservation Commission. The developer has hired SPACE Architects to design the structure.
This plan follows a 2019 controversy when a different developer proposed a 300-foot residential high rise for the site. Concerns over both height and the shadows it would throw over Frank Lloyd Wright’s nearly adjacent Unity Temple put a quick kibosh on the plan.
In the new proposal “The ground floor consists of the residential lobby, residential fitness center, building management office, elevator, surface parking, waste and recycling center, bicycle storage, mechanical and one self-serve ATM kiosk. The upper floors consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom units,” the letter to the commission reads.
The vehicular entrance will be located on the alley just south of the proposed complex to route traffic from the development away from Lake Street for the safety of pedestrians.
MAREG will meet with the Historic Preservation Commission Oct. 1. While the bank structure that currently sits on the lock is not historic and does not require the commission’s approval for demolition, the lot itself is in the Ridgeland-Oak Park Historic District. As such, the Historic Preservation Commission must review the proposed building to ensure it fits within the district’s character, as well as the potential effects it may have on neighboring Unity Temple.
Last year, Golub & Company had designs on building a 300-foot residential high-rise on the lot in question but elected to withdraw their application after heavy criticism.
MAREG appears to have taken that into consideration, as the letter to the Historic Preservation Commission states that the “height of the building has been crafted so as not to eclipse the streetscape, and specifically not to impose on the visual space of Unity Temple.”
Further, the letter states that MAREG’s proposed structure’s massing and architecture is deferential to that of Unity Temple, as well as the main branch of the nearby Oak Park Public Library. The village of Oak Park’s design consultant, Wight & Company, contributed to the plans.
This is not MAREG’S first foray into developing Oak Park, nor is it its first dalliance with historic districts. The village board gave MAREG its approval to build a 5-story, 42-unit apartment building at 435 to 451 Madison St., despite failing to secure a positive recommendation from the Plan Commission. The Plan Commission felt the height and the massing of the building too large. The Madison structure will back up to the Gunderson Historic District.