Rendering of Porter by Focus at 1105 Pleasant St. (Provided)

Almost exactly one year to the date of receiving construction approval, Focus development group broke ground March 17 on its 7-story apartment complex located where the historic Drechsler, Brown & Williams funeral home long stood at Marion and Pleasant streets. 

Focus could not have asked for a more beautiful day to break ground. Under a brightly shining sun, about 30 people watched as the ceremonial shovels dug into the earth. Blackout Baking Co., just across Marion Street, provided cookies and pastries to mark the occasion. Village Trustee Jim Taglia spoke on behalf of the village board, as Village President Vicki Scaman was unable to attend due to prior commitments. 

Taglia called Porter, as the building will be named, a “visual and practical improvement to the former use of the site.” 

“Not to mention that it will be quite a bit more lively,” he added in a nod to the location’s funeral home past. 

The luxury apartment building has been dubbed Porter by Focus, which also has its own in-house construction team. Porter, 1105 Pleasant St., is very much a transit-oriented development that will stand within walking distance of two Chicago transit lines, making travel to and from the city convenient. To satisfy the village’s inclusionary housing ordinance, Focus is paying $1.58 million into Oak Park’s affordable housing fund. 

 Along with 158 rental units, Porter will have a swimming pool, a dog-run, private co-working spaces and 123 parking spots. Focus founder and CEO Tim Anderson told Wednesday Journal he is hoping to bring a branch of Forest Park-based Kribi Coffee to occupy the building’s small commercial space.

“It’s not a yes yet, but we’re working on it,” said Anderson. “We love the idea.”

Anderson expects Porter will take a full 16 months to complete construction with a move-in date for tenants likely in May through July of 2023. The pre-leasing phase will start at the beginning of 2023. Monthly rental rates for apartments in the building range from about $1,500 for studio units up to about $5,500 for the two-story maisonette units. 

During his remarks, Taglia praised the project for its sustainability efforts, which include electric vehicle charging stations and its expected silver-certification under the National Green Building Standard. He also commended the developers for committing to pay $60,000 to help reconstruct the alley to the west of the site, as well as for putting in new lighting and security features, which the trustee believes will benefit all residents.

“As a village trustee, I am pleased to have been a part of the public process that led to this project,” said Taglia. “But as a lifelong Oak Parker, I am even more pleased to see such an impressive, major improvement in yet another part of our community.”

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