I was saddened and disappointed to hear of the Plan commissioners approving the application at 7 Van Buren. One of the reasons for approving the application is that it was determined the proposed building was not detrimental to the surrounding property or their value. In regard to the residents of the Poley building on Austin Boulevard directly adjacent to the proposed building I respectfully disagree.

When one purchases a home, they should have the reasonable expectation that their home should be able to minimally retain the value of the purchase price of their property. However, when an over 83-foot wall is built next to your home, at a distance of 9 feet from building wall to building wall, it will undoubtedly have a negative value on the property value. Over 60% of all of the natural light will be severely impacted by the proposed building, which will be twice the height of that building and will greatly affect the value of their homes. If the proposed building were built closer or in code on height this impact would not be felt as greatly, especially to the garden and first floor units. How the garbage is being handled will also have an impact on some of the Poley building’s home values. The garbage receptacles will be lined up against the south wall feet away from the lot line. This is the only proposed building in recent memory that has not had its waste receptacles enclosed within the building structure. The refuse will be feet away from the entry door to the garden unit at the Poley building and will be readily smelled by everyone when the windows are opened, not to mention exacerbating the rodent issues. Hard to show and sell your home when the “curb appeal” is walking past at least half a dozen commercial dumpsters.

They may not be able to retain the value of their homes on purchase price, let alone any investments made or equity they would reasonably hope to have gained.

This is an especially salient issue considering the demographics of the Poley building. Of the six units on floors 1-3, four are owned by minority families. The racial wealth gap will only be increased by this proposed building. Why should it be acceptable that the generational wealth of four minority families is completely upended by this development? These are the very people we should be protecting. This will affect them not just for a few years but for decades. If they have less equity in their homes, they have less means by which to increase their financial stability. The equity they have in their homes determines so much — it’s the money they will use to send their children to college, to start their own businesses, to retire with, or be able to reinvest in this community. These homes were hard won by these minority families and it seems particularly unfortunate that they will suffer financial setbacks because of the proposed building.

The seniors who own homes in the Poley building will also be placed in a precarious financial situation. They have far less time to recover the financial loss they will endure, should medical needs or other events precipitate it. For most seniors, their property is their greatest asset and their last line of defense and safety net.

If the proposed building were built within the village code or closer to it, value would be preserved. This area of Austin Boulevard is zoned to heights that are already higher to accommodate multifamily buildings so it is not unreasonable to ask that the developer remain close to those standards. If this building were constructed differently those losses could be mitigated not just in the short term but for their generational wealth that have implications for decades.

Amanda Austin is an Oak Park resident.

Join the discussion on social media!