Proposed new development at 7 Van Buren St. at Austin Boulevard. | Provided by Oak Park Residence Corporation

In general, I was disappointed by the village board’s unanimous decision to approve the planned development application of the Oak Park Residence Corporation (OPRC) to build an oversized 45-unit apartment structure at 7 Van Buren. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great development, just not there.

What I also don’t agree with is the hyperbole used to describe the compensating benefits of the building. OPRC Executive Director David Pope claimed that this building will be a model for the entire Midwest for its mixture of design, affordable housing, and net-zero-energy consumption. Two supporters effusively in their public comments carried on about how this development was everything needed by Oak Park to comply with the admirable goals laid out during last year’s world climate summit in Scotland.

What was lacking by the village board was barely a hint of concern for the impact of the density of the new development on neighboring property owners at this specific location. There were, and are, other appropriate locations: think Madison Street now that the sky’s the limit there (even Village President Vicki Scaman thinks the great wall on Madison at the end of her block is now “cool”).

For me the comments of one trustee in particular stuck out; her only questions and concern were what artistic flourish would be added to the building for the benefit of Oak Park at 7 Van Buren. 

My hyperbolic opinion: That’s like what shade of lipstick should be put on a pig.

Chris Donovan
Oak Park

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