Golub makes its high-rise case

Residents say 28-story luxury apartment building is too tall

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

More than 100 Oak Parkers turned out Monday evening to the 19th Century Club for the first public meeting by Golub & Company on the developer's plan to build a 28-story luxury apartment building at 835 Lake St.

The development team, headed by Golub senior vice president Michael Glazier, gave a short presentation and then took questions from concerned residents, most of whom were opposed to the project.

The proposal by Golub, which built the 21-story Vantage apartment building at 150 Forest Ave. in 2016, would be the largest structure in Oak Park, standing 299 feet tall and including 256 apartment units.

The building would take the place of the U.S. Bank drive-thru branch currently at the location, less than a half block away from Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple at 875 Lake St.

Glazier said the ground level of the structure would include a 3,500-square-foot U.S. Bank branch and drive-thru and would ultimately result in the bank pulling out of its current long-time location at 104 N. Oak Park Ave.

The proposal also would include a 185-space parking garage, 10 of which would be used by bank customers.

Residents largely voiced opposition to the project, arguing that the building is out of scale with surrounding structures and would cast large shadows on the nearby Unity Temple and Scoville Park. They said it would increase traffic congestion in the area and would be an eyesore.

Tom Bassett-Dilley, an Oak Park-based architect, praised the effort put into the design of the structure, but said the density was too much for the area. Glazier said Oak Park's Greater Downtown Master Plan, crafted some 10 years ago, calls for development that would bring some 1,200 new units into the area and that existing high-rise developments like Vantage, the Emerson Apartments at 1135 Westgate St., and Eleven33 near South Boulevard and Harlem, have will introduced some 1,000 new units to the area.

Glazier said the new Golub building would bring the number closer to 1,200 units.

Bassett-Dilley disputed Glazier's assertion, saying, "The planning document that you refer to does not call for this kind of density or height in this location …"

He said a consolidation of power in the village and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, a business development organization largely funded by the village, "is overriding our planning documents."

Bassett-Dilley also strongly objected to the shadow that would be cast over Unity Temple, a structure considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpieces. Representatives of Unity Temple were in the audience. 

"I want to ask you why you think it's OK to throw a shadow on that building every morning, every time there's a service going on throughout the entire year," he said.

Glazier was prompted by the audience to answer the question, stating: "I thought that was a rhetorical question." Golub did present its shadow studies related to both Unity Temple and Scoville Park during its presentation.

He noted that adjacent structures such as the six-story Oak Hotel, 855 Lake St., already cast shadows on Unity Temple.

Several residents asked about Golub's plan to include affordable units in the structure. The Oak Park village board recently began work on establishing an inclusionary zoning ordinance that would require such developments to include affordable units or contribute to an affordable housing fund, but it's uncertain whether the ordinance will be approved prior to the Golub project's review process.

Golub did not include any affordable units in its Vantage development and did not contribute funds toward affordable housing efforts.

Glazier said Golub aims to submit its proposal later this year and work its way through the planning and approval process by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Alicia Chastain, who is working with other Oak Parkers to get the board of trustees to establish an inclusionary zoning ordinance (IZO), said she is pushing for a 20 percent affordable housing requirement on large residential developments like Golub proposes.

"That would be about 51 units for the development you propose," she said, asking what Golub is willing to contribute if the IZO is not approved prior to the development.

Glazier said Golub would not likely contribute anything outside of an ordinance requiring the company to do so. "We've considered contributions but the magnitude of that is not known," he said.

Laura Stamp, who was a vocal opponent of the Albion high-rise development at the corner of Lake and Forest, said she also opposed this project and encouraged residents to contact trustees and voice their opposition.

She said trustees on the current Oak Park village board are "willing and happy to give away our cultural assets."

Stamp said the board should wait to consider approval of the Golub project until after the April 2 election that will bring three new trustees onto the board.

She noted that two trustees who campaigned against the Albion project – Deno Andrews and Dan Moroney – flipped and voted in favor of the project, despite their campaign promises.

"You need to vote and elect people with actual integrity," she said.

* This story was updated to note that the 10 parking spots planned for the U.S. Bank branch will be for customers, not employees.

tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: December 3rd, 2018 4:28 PM

shadows aren't trivial Robert. An interesting article https://www.citylab.com/design/2017/05/seeking-sunlight-in-a-skyscraper-city/524670/

Robert Milstein from Oak park  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 9:59 PM

Forgive me but to clarify prior comments ....cars will be owned...the structure is too tall...density matters...

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 9:57 PM

The shadows are trivial but the size less so. This is simply too tall given the surrounding buildings, and lets not kid our selves there is going to be little to no affordable housing. President Abu Taleb has no inclination to support affordability. As to card...those living in this strcture will have cars, unless not owning a car is a requirement...can't do that! The density of population does matter and cannot be pushed under the rug. How much money does Golub want to make? Will they guarantee they will stay the owners for 25 years? Will they agree to never turn Condo? No flipping for 25 years...

Kline Maureen  

Posted: December 2nd, 2018 3:57 PM

The shadows seem to be a minor issue as they only apply during daytime hours when the sun is out - so there wouldn't seem to be a problem much of the time at night or on cloudy days (like the entire month of November, LOL!) The bigger issue is just having this monstrosity looming over the streetscape, staring you in the face as you enter the library or walk in Scoville Park, and looming over you as you walk along Lake Street.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: December 1st, 2018 6:28 PM

@ Christopher Goode: How about a series of lights on the west side of the building to shine on Unity Temple when the shadow falls?

Neal Buer  

Posted: November 30th, 2018 4:46 PM

Christopher, I don't want the developers to pay an affordable housing fee, so they can avoid having affordable units in their building. The Village then uses the money to build in South Oak Park, where they feel affordable housing is "more appropriate " and "fits in better".

Christopher Goode  

Posted: November 30th, 2018 4:31 PM

Has anyone here actually looked at the shadow studies? The shadows cast by this building on Unity Temple are only in the morning. The shadows cast on Scoville Park only reach the south edge in fall and spring around the middle of the day. During winter they do extend across the park but should have little effect on the trees as they are dormant. They miss it nearly entirely on June 21st. All of these things could be easily solved by lowering the building height somewhat so that Unity Temple is not shaded after 9am and the shadows that reach the park are much reduced. And I like Neal's idea to require a significant percentage of affordable units, or an equivalent contribution to the Village to be used elsewhere for that purpose. I am not concerned about the density issues raised. Lake Street isn't that crowded now and this project is unlikely to cause driving problems while it means more folks living in the center of the village. It will also provide more parking at the center as well. We don't have a parking problem in downtown Oak Park unless your expectation is to park on the street right in front of your destination. I have always been able to find parking in any of the garages at any of the times I have needed it. I have never seen them filled to capacity. This is a transit oriented development, near the el so that folks living there can get around easily without a car. That is why Oak Park is a popular spot for this kind of development. I think this tower is too tall, but not by all that much, and the effort made in the design to keep the building height at the street street in line with the adjacent buildings, and pushing the tower back on the lot to mitigate the shadows cast is well done. I am more concerned with the design details and materials proposed as this is most critical to its architectural success. We need to make sure that we don't give everything away to the developers for free. We don't need to play the desperate lover.

Neal Buer  

Posted: November 29th, 2018 7:56 PM

Want to stop this? Require 20% of the units be affordable.

Adrian Ayres Fisher  

Posted: November 29th, 2018 3:58 PM

This building is a very bad idea, historically, environmentally, aesthetically and socially. Golub brought us Vantage, a terrible building that has caused awful wind problems, and they've been invited back? Why? What possible good could it do for our village? These folks don't care and show no social responsibility and our supposedly representative village government goes along. What are their rewards for doing so? How can this be stopped?

Robert Milstein from Oak Park   

Posted: November 28th, 2018 10:27 PM

Our current President Anan Abu Taleb has decided, along with the business leaders, that OP will be the new Schaumburg. The local paper will say any opposition is just NIMBYism. That marginalizes realistic opposition, because now they don't count. High density, tall buildings, heavy traffic, parking issues, more demand in services...the homeowners share of the tax pie will increase, because of additional factors...IMAGINE will happen. A funny thing this economic development...smaller buildings, increased green space, affordable housing, no developer subsidies, a community that values its history...these were the themes in 2003 and 15 years later the same discussions. The 8 announced candidates need to lay out their views on urban development and how they see Oak Park at say...the end of their first term. Specifics - on zoning, rules for development, Transparency, affordable housing...a tax plan, pension plan, etc. This building is only one part of a bigger puzzle...What does OP want to be?

Kline Maureen  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 9:16 PM

@Jeff Schroeder - regarding US Bank, the article states that they will be vacating their current space at 104 N. Oak Park Ave., creating another vacancy in a very high visibility location on Oak Park Ave. in the center of town.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 6:43 PM

Tom I'm not aware of any trees that cast a 900 ft. shadow and covers over half of Scoville Park during the winter months. If you can find one though call Guinness - and maybe drink a few more while you're at it.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 6:02 PM

@Jeff - The people renting parking spaces at Cortland Condos do not own those spaces. They have zero control over that lot for the time beyond when they have paid rent on it. You can't rent a spot and control the whole property. @Ada - yes, shade is bad. We should cut down all the trees in town, way too shady.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 5:56 PM

Roxann, if Five Guys was going to succeed it should have done so with the new apartment buildings within short walking distance. Apparently the high rises aren't good for all businesses.However I think Five Guys was way to expensive for what they served. That may have something to do with it.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 4:52 PM

No one has mentioned what will become of the building immediately east of this proposed high rise: Courtland Condominiums. My wife and I lived in Courtland in the late eighties. The people in that building currently park in the US Bank lot. According to the article there will be less parking spaces than units in the new building. So, where will the people who already live in Courtland be forced to go? Certainly this will bring down the value of their units. And why would we want another US Bank facility on the main floor? Aren't there enough already in our City of Oak Park?

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 2:37 PM

I wouldn't live on State St. if my life depended on it. I wouldn't live in the loop unless I had too. What has that got to do with anything Tom? I'm pretty certain Oak Park is not downtown Chicago. And that may be the reason why many of us live here. Brian yes Vantage does have an effect on both sun and increasing wind. Albion's not built yet...so that. Here's an article - feel free to do your own research. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/04/in-the-shadows-of-booming-cities-a-tension-between-sunlight-and-prosperity/?utm_term=.9042c7c7481e

Roxann Lopez  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 2:03 PM

Five Guys on Lake is closing reportedly due to the decline in lunch business which they attribute to the loss of the surface lots nearby. Which I thought were great having grown up looking for parking to shop locally. I find myself avoiding the shopping district.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 1:45 PM

People left Chicago because of all the shadows in the Loop. Oh wait, they didn't.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 12:50 PM

@ AJT: That is perfect. Now the question would be, what has been the ill effect of the shadow that has been thrown across Oak Park by the tallest building in Oak Park?

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 12:34 PM

Brian go to Oak Park Development Watch on Facebook. Someone has the shadow study slides posted. In addition to shadowing Unity Temple and neighboring condos, the building will be throwing a 900 ft. or so shadow across Scoville Park in December. Basically the shadow went of the screen it was so long - and appeared to cover about half of Scoville Park.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 12:13 PM

I wonder how downtown OP retail is doing with all the new people living there? Leaving the impact of construction aside for the moment I have to imagine this is good for local retail. I don't know that to be true though. I will say the added foot traffic might be negated by the people who no longer want to deal with the traffic and parking issues. If the village plans to keep adding buildings like this then they need a real and comprehensive plan to handle the traffic and parking issues. The infrastructure in this town was never intended to handle this level of density.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 11:27 AM

There's a very simple solution to the problem. It worked brilliantly to address public opposition to the Albion tower. One of the trustees needs to just sketch out a design that solves the issue of density and shadowing. That's exactly how a majority of the board eventually decided to approve the development at Forest and Lake. A quick doodle on a piece of scratch paper and it's done!

John Kehoe from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 10:35 AM

Without a doubt, the largest single tourist draw to Oak Park is Frank Lloyd Wright. Now, the Village is actually considering smearing one of his most stellar accomplishments with this abomination. I HAVE NO WORDS!

Roxann Lopez  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 10:30 AM

All the reasons we moved to Oak Park are being erased, or rather, built over. The entire feel of the village is changing and not in a good way. I bought a home here to enjoy the convenience of the city. Now I am back to the inconvenience of the city. Yuck just about sums it up.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 9:08 AM

Size apparently matters to the Oak Park Village Board. But decency not so much.

Neal Buer  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 9:03 AM

Robert, we had organized opposition against the gross building at 801 S. Oak Park Avenue. The fix was in very early. I assume the fix is in on this building also. Has this board ever met a grossly oversized building they didn't like? Look at the building at Madison and OakPark. 8 stories high. Nothing in the area is even close to 8 stories. It's going to look like Mt. Everest in Nebraska. If the board represented the residents and not the developers, we may sway the vote, but I won't hold my breath.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 7:09 AM

Just a question about the shadow issue. This issue was brought up with the Forest and Lake building as well as the the building that was going to be built in Stankus Hole. What was the outcome of those studies, if any, and how was the final determination made to build the taller building at Forest and Lake?. Are there any notes anywhere in regards to the shadow issue? Ending this with a Rolling Stones lyric, "its just a shadow, its just a shadow"

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2018 6:33 AM

See the TALL building? Yes, TALL! It is going up unless organized opposition, which includes positive alternative ideas take" place. Comments will not bring the desired change. If we want positive development ---make suggestions and go to Village Hall and look the Board in their eyes and say, "Development that is responsible, reasonable and appropriate is welcome, but not this. The President and his minions will not stop at one more TALL structure.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: November 27th, 2018 11:45 PM

Hey Pat. We're getting what we deserve. We, you and me, voted for these jokers. The answer - such as it is - is to vote these incumbents who support this stuff out of office.. Hopefully, this will be become a campaign issue, and hopefully the candidates will have enough integrity to stake out a position and stick to it - unlike what happened two years ago.

Pat Koko  

Posted: November 27th, 2018 11:30 PM

And let us not forget that the Village is just about to rip up Lake Street that will just add to the density and congestion. NO ONE will want to go to the PO, Library or stores. And of course, with the Madison Street "DIET" more cars will come to what is possible on Lake St. For those of us who have lived in and loved and supported this Village for over 50 years, this is anathema.

Johanna Brocker from River Forest, IL  

Posted: November 27th, 2018 7:11 PM

Where is the traffic going to go..When people take their 1200 cars (or more) out of these buildings..where is the traffic going to go? We have extremely conjested traffic on Lake Street and Harlem Avenue now. Parking has been substantially diminished with these constructions. Local businesses are losing business and walk-by business. People skip Oak Park and run over to Forest Park where they can park for free...and the buildings are in keeping with the sight lines of current architechture.

Martin A. Berg from Oak Park  

Posted: November 27th, 2018 4:34 PM

I had planned to attend this meeting but for the weather. This development is too dense, too high, and too close to our landmark Unity Temple to make ANY sense. This project must be stopped. We are losing this Village by pandering to the almighty tax dollar. Quit spending on $5 million sidewalks and amazing swimming pools and you won't need to try to attract soul-sucking developments like these. As Ms Stamp noted in the article, "You need to vote and elect people with actual integrity." I'll second that, because I worry that we don't have such people now on the village board.

Larry Skiver  

Posted: November 27th, 2018 3:56 PM

It doesn't matter how many meetings there are, Oakpark will do what they want anyway.

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