I’ve been moaning and groaning for months about the “Great White” going up on Marion Street on the site of the former Drechsler Funeral Home, near Mills Park and across from Poor Phil’s. It’s huge and it’s intrusive. It’s not really ugly … yet. It’s supposed to be luxury apartments, but it looks a bit institutional — sort of like a small hospital or high-end clinic. Which could be good for business at Poor Phil’s.

This building belongs on a very large, raised site with plenty of green space around it. It would still look institutional, but with walkways and landscaping, it could be beautiful. And it should be a light color.

But that’s not this building.

The Tyvek siding on the Great White (those Tyveks have made a fortune, haven’t they?) is starting to disappear, covered by reddish-brown (faux?) brick, which means we could soon have a huge dark structure looming over the neighborhood. I prefer the Tyvek.

So here’s my idea. One of the colors they’re using on the Great White as a temporary cover for small sections, maybe as rain protection, is a beautiful shade of blue/turquoise. Why not take a pastel version of this color and use it on siding for the whole building? On a clear day the building would blend with the blue of the sky and on a gloomy day, it could be very pretty and soothing. Picture it as the background in a heavy snowfall! It’s not what we think of as Oak Park-ish, but maybe it’s time to “up our game” as architectural innovators. I bet people coming to see the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings would soon be asking to see the “Blue Building.”

Some people complain that it doesn’t fit with the neighborhood, to which I say, “Have you looked at the neighborhood?” There was some movement to “up” the street’s attractiveness a few years ago, but the brick street installed at that time stops right outside Poor Phil’s.

It’s true that there’s a gorgeous house-on-a-hill south of it, and a pretty white frame farmhouse-building across the street, also on a hill. However, the neighborhood is a collection of buildings of every style and purpose.

In addition to Poor Phil’s there are three places to eat and have a glass of wine outdoors: Anfora Wine Shop, La Notte and Victory. I’m sure they’re happy about more apartment dwellers who like to go out to eat.

 Also across the street from the new building site is a nice old building with a couple of small businesses, a coffee shop, a triple-large ceramics studio, and on the corner, an ersatz real estate office, occasionally occupied by the person who was named this year’s Oak Park Realtor of the Year. Instead of pictures of properties, you can see a messy desk and ancient photos in the window, including one of an unmade bed.

The new building will also have retail, and it looks like it could have quite a few spaces if the shops extend down the side street. I’m hoping for what they used to call a “milk store” (where you could buy stuff you need for breakfast), also a dry cleaner, an informal but great breakfast restaurant, a drugstore/grocery store that also sells a bottle of wine for under $10, and — let’s try it — an upscale clothing store like Anthropologie.

And lottery tickets!

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Mary Kay O'Grady is a former high school English teacher and later owned her own public relations business, The O'Grady Group. She has lived in Oak Park for almost fifteen years. She is currently the chairperson...