Low-income apartments on Madison get OK from Oak Park Plan Commission

Oak Park board gets final say on proposal in May


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Plan Commission approved plans to build a 51-unit apartment building on Madison Street last week, bringing to an end months of contentious meetings on the proposal.

Commissioners green-lighted the proposal in a 6-2 vote on March 3. While the volunteer advisory panel expressed reservations about the project, targeted at low-income people who live or work in Oak Park, they said those concerns weren't enough to vote no.

The area around 820 Madison will likely become increasingly upscale, said Commissioner Steve Rouse, and the need for affordable housing will increase.

"As the area gets more and more affluent, there's going to be less and less ability to build something like this, which means there's going to be more need for it, not less," Rouse said. "I think that's the reason this is the right project at the right time."

On the other side, commissioners Mark Benson and Gary Belenke voted against the project. They expressed concerns that the building is far too short on parking — the developer is providing 32 spaces, while zoning requires at least 73.

The developer believes many of the tenants will ride the bus or take the train. But Benson argued that poor people own cars and need them to get to work.

"I would rather us stand firm on the requirements and challenge them to come up with something better," he said.

Chicago-based Interfaith Housing Development Corp. is planning to purchase the empty Comcast building at 820 W. Madison, strip off the Dryvit façade, add two stories, and turn the structure into a four-story apartment building. They're partnering with the Oak Park Housing Authority and Catholic Charities to make the project a reality.

But Interfaith first needed relief from local zoning codes in order to remodel the building, which was once upon a time a Cadillac dealership. The current proposal is too tall, has too many apartments and doesn't provide enough parking spaces under village code.

The plan commission ended up granting Interfaith the eight zoning allowances it needed to make the project work. However, commissioners attached a list of 19 stipulations the developer must meet in exchange for the approval. Those include hiring a resident manager to live in the building, making each tenant go through a criminal background check, paying for a parking study after the project fills up, and giving top preference to people who both live and work in Oak Park.

Neighbors have voiced concerns about the project, saying it is too dense, lacking in diversity of incomes and does not fit in with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.

After the vote last week, opponents of the project said they were disappointed with the results. John Murtagh, of the 600 block of South Oak Park Avenue, said the added conditions "satisfied nothing" and "skirted" the parking problems.

"I still think it's a terrible project, but I'm not certain what can be done," he said.

Douglas McMeyer, of the 400 block of South Grove, said the commission seemed to recognize and address some of the negatives in the project but didn't tackle the shortage of parking and the murky tenant profile for the building.

"I'm hopeful this can be a positive thing. I don't know what the next steps will be," he said. "There are serious risks that were not addressed tonight that need to be considered as this thing moves forward."

The plan commission will reconvene March 17 to finalize their recommendation. But the Oak Park village board will have the final say on the proposal and will make its own decision on May 16.

It would require a supermajority vote from the village board — at least five out of seven — for trustees to overturn the plan commission's recommendation. The approval will be one of the first decisions of the new Oak Park village board after the April 5 election. None of the five candidates running for three spots would state how they'd vote on the project when given the opportunity on Monday.

If the village board agrees with the commission, Interfaith would then have nine months to apply for building permits, 18 months to start construction and 36 months to finish the building.

Perry Vietti, chief operating officer for Interfaith, said they had no problem with the conditions imposed by the commission. Their next step is to start filling out applications for funding and getting together detailed architectural drawings of the building.

"Zoning is huge. This is a big, big step forward," he said. "It's not the end of the road by any means, but I thought it was a pretty strong endorsement of the project by the vast majority of this group. It feels good."

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Posted: May 11th, 2011 3:11 PM

I cant wait for more affordable housing in Oak Park!!The more...the merrier.

Donna Kniaz from OakPark  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 2:04 PM

So, you ultra liberals want to have low income apartments in Oak Park, but you are afraid that the Walgreens a few blocks away will become a Dollar Store. Get real. Approving low income housing may salve your social conscience, but where is your common sense. Where do you want the people to shop? And is it fair to deprive north Oak Park of the right to put low income housing in their part of the city. That's just down right selfish. Share the wealth (and the low income housing).

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 7:59 AM

@ OP and epic, is there a point where you would not support this project? If 51 units are good, then how about 102? There's an empty lot across from the Comcast site, should we double down? Forget zoning regulations -- maybe 100 units or so at every major intersection on Madison without consideration for parking? What is your threshold?


Posted: April 27th, 2011 12:45 AM

P O'Shea, Your own words were these other developments were Apples to Oranges b/c of the resident make up? NO? As I've said- They are humans. Maybe humans who dont have as much money as YOU, but are willing to work to make a better life for themselves. I agree with Epic, your "other" issues are just decoys!!

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 6:15 PM

@ epic - The developer is unwilling to alter the project or unable to based on the financial structure of the deal. Either way IHDC is the one who has turned this into an all or nothing proposition--accept it as is or oppose it entirely. I've heard numerous direct requests to IHDC in hearings and meetings to reduce density and to go to a mixed-income model. They were flatly rejected.


Posted: April 26th, 2011 6:14 PM

Epic and all, if you want to learn more go to https://sites.google.com/site/concernedmadisonoakpark/

Patricia Murtagh O'Shea  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 6:12 PM

Epic. You're just plain wrong on this one. Have you read up yet? You seem really insightful generally on this board. I would LOVE to see this project molded to be something better for all involved, but as stated below, no one is meeting me - or anyone else at the table to discuss that. Oh, and I don't go by Pat. ;)

epic lulz  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 6:00 PM

@Ken, I'm well aware of the developer's requirements. And I'm well aware of how the planning process works. I'm also well aware that the opponents have been trying to kill the project from day one.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 5:35 PM

Hi Ken - Here is Interfaith Rationale on why the development cannot be changed. Plan Comm. Fausch: Why just 1 bedroom? (Singles) Mr. Vietti: "The local partner (OPHA) has a need for working poor singles (never proven). If you build 3 bedrooms, you could only build 20 or so. You have to get to a certain amount of rent to operate." It is singles because its the only way Interfaith can made a profit. That's what happens when you pick your site before identifying your customers -- Marketing 101.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 5:14 PM

@ epic, you should learn more about the project before posting comments like this. The developer, IHDC, is not open to reducing the density or revising the tenant mix to include anyone but low-income, single adults. The tenant profile is structured this way because there is federal funding available for this type of housing %u2014 not because there is an identified need in OP or because this is a model that's shown to be successful.

epic lulz  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 4:57 PM

@Pat, if those were truly your only concerns, you'd be working to change the plan to meet those concerns, instead of fighting to kill the project.

Curious George from Oak Park  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 4:22 PM

OP-The news release says that this building targets those with special needs. I believe this to be yet another misunderstanding, or more spin. The building will not give preference to those with special needs.


Posted: April 26th, 2011 2:15 PM

Your best defense for this project is an article of a preacher in support for Winnetka? I think you swallowed too much mouth wash this morning. Good thing there will be social services there including A.A.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 2:13 PM

No, OP. My biggest concerns are 1) Density - repeating a failed model by lumping the poor into a high number of small cookie cutter units 2) Design and impact of that design on the area 3) Parking 4) Not meeting the documented needs of Oak Park for Senior and Family Housing Saying that those opposed are only opposed to resident profile is a weak argument and the one you repeat again and again.


Posted: April 26th, 2011 1:56 PM

Your right- Nothing like it- Because IT HASNT been built- DOH! The mission remains the same. Your biggest problem, I think, is the residents???? Guess what. Humans will be living there. Imagine that.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 1:20 PM

Has Clara's Village been toured?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 1:15 PM

I think it's great that the Board is taking the initiative to do this. It is important to note that these are apples to oranges comparisons. Sanctuary Place is women only. Sankofa house seems to be families. Does Interfaith have a development truly like the one they are looking to build in Oak Park? Low income singles or singles one child under 18 male or female including Section 8 with a successful commercial component?


Posted: April 26th, 2011 1:08 PM

The Village Board will tour other Interfaith projects. http://www.oak-park.us/News/index.htm


Posted: April 3rd, 2011 5:43 PM

Oak Park is NOT alone in this effort. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-affordable-housing-in-winnetka-gets-nod-in-pulpit-20110403,0,6947757.story

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 1st, 2011 5:19 PM

Note: Catholic Charities is not a partner in this project. They dropped out in Feb 2010 preferring the designation of "service provider" to really being all in.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 29th, 2011 8:56 AM

If it is true that all politics are local, then I suppose it is also true that all local politics are extremely local. Perhaps this explains why neighbors who have the most to lose are also those who express the most concern. Can't say that I really blame them.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 11:16 PM

OP Disgrace - When the board approves a hearing commission hearing,it sends a Board Referral advising the commission of its duties. For the Madison St Housing Proposal the board wrote "The board also wanted the Plan Commission to recognize the negativity that has been stated in the community relating this development to Chicago Housing and believe it should not be allowed to percolate in the public hearing." One person made a Chicago Housing statement & we all are "negative". Is this Bias?


Posted: March 28th, 2011 9:37 PM

Agree so much with the people who are against this.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 9th, 2011 1:10 PM

So I believe consistency is pretty important. I'm spending my lunch hour working on this Comcast thing and just uploaded the presentation from the opposition to the Plan Commission on resident manager. I want to clarify my statement below that what the community wanted was a full time manager and asked for AT LEAST a resident manager (which wasn't included at the time). So we go the at least which is not satisfying, but in the better than nothing category.


Posted: March 8th, 2011 11:24 PM

I'm with you Patricia. The question will certainly be asked during the scheduled meetings the candidates will have with voters prior to the election. Whether or not anyone is willing go on the record remains to be seen. They sure don't want to tip their hand. I wonder why? Perhaps it's a done deal. Pope, Hedges, Brewer and Luecke should also be willing to share their thoughts but it's unlikely we'll hear from them anytime soon.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 8th, 2011 10:55 PM

I am dismayed by the candidates unwillingness to take a stand. I hope they do soon. I hate to say anything negative, but this has to be said. Avoiding sharing an opinion is cowardly at best.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 8th, 2011 12:19 PM

I'd like to add too that the Plan Commission stated multiple times that the resident manager meets the communities request for 24 hour management, when in fact it does not. A 24 hour professional manager is what was requested.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 8th, 2011 11:42 AM

Brian - The PlanCom skirted the security issue by approving a Resident Manager instead. A ResMgr is a resident that is given a rent subsidy to act as the liaison between tenants and management, police, etc. The job is similar to the Floor Mgr in college, except this residence will have four floors. A ResMgr could have a full time job and be out of the bldg a lot. A ResMgr will not be expected to cover issues that occur outside the building or monitor movement in and out of the bldg.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 8th, 2011 11:11 AM

@Brian. Per the Planning Commission guidelines there would be a 9-5 Mon-Fri professional manager. There would be a non-professional resident manager for all other hours. That person's primary function, and I quote from the last Plan Commission meeting, will be to call the Police when neccesary.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 8th, 2011 11:01 AM

I spent a lot of time with this proposal and I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be a drughouse. I think we need to focus on whether this is a responsible use of taxpayer money...each small unit will cost 3-4 times the average cost of a typical small unit in Oak Park...on whether we are enabling the vision of a vibrant Madison Street corridor by strapping the area as it relates to parking...on whether we are ok with our community propagating a proven failed housing model (100% low income).

Brian Lantz  

Posted: March 8th, 2011 10:55 AM

At the closing arguements meeting, several commission members voiced their concern about not having a manager on site 24/7. This seemed valid given the supportive housing structure of the development's operations. Does anyone know if this was a condition of the recommendation?

Frank Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2011 12:39 PM

Finally, a good spot to buy drugs. Much better than Oak Park Arms

kathleen from OP  

Posted: March 6th, 2011 10:06 AM

When I mentioned the possibility of kickbacks, I am pointing to a history of approving projects that require zoning variances, financial help from the Village, state or federal government, and lack adequate parking. One only has to look at the Whiteco deal and the Sertus hotel.

Not a Neighbor but from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 10:36 PM

I don't live anywhere near Grove and Madison and I think the project is a bad idea, and I know many others who think the same way. I've dealt with people who live in this type of housing-both through work and family members, so fear isn't an issue. I think the size is wrong as well as the lack of economic diversity, the reliance on retail to make a go of the project and the lack of parking. What will be our recourse if the project doesn't work out as the idealists hope?

Grove Avenue Resident from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 8:48 PM

I disagree that the PC vote or the Comcast project is a "VMA Plot"...how silly can we get??! That was almost as silly as the person who explained the PC vote by talking about "Kick-Backs!" to the planning commission. I also disagree that the majority of Oak Park oppose Comcast ... I get it -- a majority of Grove Ave. between Jackson and Washington -- opposes the project but I do not believe a majority in Oak Park oppose.

Grove Avenue Resident from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 8:33 PM

I will not base my vote for VOP Trustee on one single issue. However a trustee who assures me -- he will not vote for Comcast -- will most likely NOT get my vote! I think the Comcast redevelopment Project is good for Oak Park.

Chris Koertge  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 2:25 PM

I'm with John on the vote. If there is a Village Board candidate who will back this neighborhood and vote against this project, PLEASE identify yourself. Such a candidate would find significant support in the neighborhood around the proposed project. I would gladly help spread the message that there is a candidate who is willing to stand up for the majority in the community who oppose this project.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 1:55 PM

I will not vote for ANY trustee candidate who is unwilling to take a position on the Madison Avenue Housing Proposal. If I have to, I will sign a ballot without checking a candidate name.

400 Block Resident  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 1:21 PM

We can make a difference with the Village Board. Find out the members here: http://www.oak-park.us/About_Our_Village/trustees_2006.htm Contact them and let them know that you will vote them out if they don't vote against this project. Elections are in April, before the Village will vote on this issue. I know I will be contacting them.


Posted: March 5th, 2011 11:13 AM

A question to the PC - If this project was proposed to be built from the ground up on the vacant lot at Oak Park and Madison, would you still approve it? If the anwser is no, then you really need to get a better understanding of land use and your duty. Land use is more than pretty buildings and green initiatives.

kathleen from OP  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 10:33 AM

OP taxpayers need to insist that all trustee candidates on the April 5 ballot disclose how they would vote on this project. I intend to vote only for those pledging to vote this project down.

Ridenjo from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 10:07 AM

The zoning changes are an effective theft of the property rights of the neighbors. When you buy property you pay for these zooming protections in your purchase price. When those rights are later removed, you suffer a financial lose. The Oak Park power structure doesn't get this. I'm especially disappointed with Catholic Charities who I indirectly support. Although their intentions are good, they are involved in property theft here since the neighbors are losing their rights without their consent. Furthermore, this residence will attract many low income paranoid schizophrenic people. I know several and am currently helping one. I found him residency at a YMCA in the suburbs a while back after he was kicked out of his home after beating up a relative. I expect when his money runs out, we will need to find him another place such as this new Comcast facility. I will not consider the Comcast facility though because it is just too close to a residential neighborhood. Although this person is a beloved relative, I could not subject such a family neighborhood to such unguarded risks inherent to unstable people afflicted with this sad disease.

Dave Heidorn from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 9:46 AM

Let's face it. This is a VMA project, the signature of VMA vision. VMA's tag line for the election should be, "Uptown is Us!" You move here because you're willing to invest in your kids' education. You think it's a place with shared values. Your garbage gets picked up and you calculate taxes vs. the city private schools and you ignore the growing suspicion it's rotten underneath. No one cares what you think. The rotten has hit your block. Make no mistake, VMA can do this to you, too.

Kitty Conklin from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 9:23 AM

In St. Paul, MN, we lived across the street from a religious-sponsored, low-income housing development - what a nightmare. We got out 1 yr after it opened. I feel very sorry for the nearby residents to this Comcast project. You will hate the OP Plan Commission from this day forward.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 8:54 AM

To join a Facebook page opposing the project login to Facebook and search concerned citizens Madison. We're the page with the pic of the Comcast building.

Resident from Oak park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 8:54 AM

I'm sure WJ will update this "breaking news" article, but other online local papers have a bit more info on the changes the PC asked for before they'd fully approve this project. I still think it is fundamentally too large and too driven by the funding requirements, but at least they are starting to pursue some of the issues residents raised.


Posted: March 5th, 2011 8:23 AM

All joking aside, this was a commission on zoning, and all zoning issues were not unreasonable with the exception of the parking. Asking for 70% less than required is absurd. Their solution, will do a study 6 months after its built. Big surprise there will be a parking issue then too. If this is a stepping stone for public offices, the remember names like Rouse and Quin and make sure their carees stop at volonteer.


Posted: March 5th, 2011 7:58 AM

Why dont they open a liquer store/medicinal marijuana office in the retail space too. 40 YEAR MISTAKE!!

Drug Crazy from the Suburbs  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 7:50 AM

I want to thank the OP Planning Commission from the bottom of my heart. Pretty soon, I will not have to travel to the West Side of Chicago to get my heroin anymore.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 7:43 AM

To reach the Village Board, Clerk and Manager send an email to: board@oak-park.us Or call 708.358.5784.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 10:15 PM

Re Grove Avenue Neighbor - We can absolutely accept the planning commission's decision. There were no boos, tears, screams, or demonstration by the opposition at last night meeting. Durin the three months of meeting,both sides were professional and fair. I thank the Plan Commission for their effort.

Grove Avenue Neighbor from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:58 PM

I applaud the OP Planning commission for doing it's due diligence and it's homework and arriving at the correct decision. It is unfortunate that folks who disagree need to denigrate and call names. These commissioners while volunteers have a breath of experience dealing with complex issues and consider their decisions very carefully and with great expertise. They give of their time and energy for the good of the community. The opposition had their say and did not prevail. Can't they accept it?


Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:44 PM

Long live the People's Republic of Oak Park. The Planning Commission has spoken. Our decision is wise and final. How dare you question us? Resistance is futile. Carry on, carry on...

i was an OP resident  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 7:26 PM

My husband and I just had a very painful conversation about leaving Oak Park. We thought our children would graduate from high school here.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 5:31 PM

Juan - the "." at the end of the text is a period -- not part of URL address.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 5:26 PM

Juan e-mail address to contact all board members at one time is board@oakpark.us.

Juan Gonzalez from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 5:12 PM

Can someone post the village boards e-mail addresses? We need to direct them to vote this down! Once again we have decisions being made here by people with good intentions with no accountablity... I WANT TO HOLD THE VILLAGE BOARD ACCOUNTABLE..

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 4:52 PM

Violet -- your question confuses many OP'ers. There are two elected bodies in OP. The one that we are most familiar with is OP Village (fire, police, etc.) The second is Oak Park Township which adminsters senior and youth programs as well as the assessor. Oak Park Township's offices are located on Oak Park Avenue on the sw corner. OPT's form of government uses a Town Hall approach that allows any registered vote in OP to vote on issues. You or I could have attended the meeting and voted.

Jack M. from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 4:14 PM

Well its a nice feeling to actually have your mind made up for you. Live six blocks away and will be putting my house up for sale. Oak Park is a joke not just because of this, it is a big part of my decision but look at the prop tax hike they want to pass. Taxes up three fold in the decade and students are dumber than ever. See ya!

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 4:12 PM

Another thing I am wondering about: why is the public allowed to vote on the Oak Park Ave. building and not this SRO?

Back in the USSR  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 4:02 PM

Serving on the Plan Commission is the standard tour of duty for future VMA village board members. Pope, Johnson, Hale and Lueck are all former PC commissioners. Other PC commissioners are usually associated with the VMA-based real estate industry, such as Rouse, Belenke, and Quinn; or a VMA stalwart, such as Moran. The Citizen Involvement Commission ensures all development-related citizen commissions represent the interests of the VMA Politburo by controlling membership.

Chris Koertge  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 3:43 PM

I care enough to not let this go and am not alone. The Board has not yet voted on the proposal, so I am not done fighting it.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 3:39 PM

Question to all who attend these board meetings: do you even think "they" are taking your feelings into consideration? This site doesn't generate too many opinions on most topics, but probably the most heated issue thus far has been this SRO. I had the feeling that they would make it look good and still do whatever the eff they feel like doing. Who the hell ARE these people who sit up there and make all these asshat decisions and do any of you care enough not to let it go?

Amy Pappageorge  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 2:51 PM

cont. Also, this form of housing is not in the best interests of residents who are eligible to live in such a project. Let's not overlook the symbolism of this project, how it communicates to the larger citizenry that the village leadership has a low regard for the needs of its tax paying residents; how it will throw doubt on prospective homebuyers who will be wary of investing in property where developers can be granted extreme variances with no regard for standards and quality of life impact. Our tireless efforts to enlighten the commission, to put the interests of people before developers - all for naught. Everyone here supports wise affordable housing. How unconscionable to spend upwards of 12 million to build a failed form of housing. (Many, many hundreds of poor people, not merely 51, could benefit from these millions.) Our neighborhood favors senior housing, housing for people with disabilities who cannot live independently, and scattered site low-income housing in regular apartment buildings where the poor do not have to be have any stigma attached to their residence. (Oak Park has been doing this effectively for years, with more than 700 benefiting from this program.) This project, if it goes forward, will tear at the fabric of this community. We are exhausted and thunderstruck by this blow to our hearts, but still ready to hold our leaders accountable to the people they are privileged to serve.

Amy Pappageorge  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 2:47 PM

Who are the people that live on 400 S. Grove, the vast majority who oppose this project? We are plumbers, builders, teachers, stay-at-home dads and moms, many children and babies, Oak Park business owners, lawyers, nurses, accountants, a policeman, and many more outstanding citizens. We teach your children, build your homes, fix your plumbing try your legal cases, police your streets, balance your budgets, bind your wounds, and raise amazing children. We pay the steepest of property taxes for the privilege of living in this very special town. We have spent months doing research into the ramifications of this housing project, were it to be built, on our neighborhood. The facts, not the myths, reveal this project will be severely detrimental to our neighborhood.

j.oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 1:25 PM

let's have a vote of no-confidence for the entire plan commission and have the group re-seated. you can vote no confidence in the village board by voting against all vma candidates in April.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 1:09 PM

The problem with OP is the problem we had with the Bush administration. Any time bureaucracy is dominated by a single ideology, nothing good comes of it. Thus, we get stuck with too much Village control and spending, and ideas that are just plain bad, like this one.

kathleen from OP  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 12:57 PM

Is there a way to see if anyone is receiving kickbacks? I can think of no logical reason why the PC and the trustees are pandering to developers and are disregarding the best interests and wishes of OP taxpayers. This is happening repeatedly. I am truly disgusted.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 12:06 PM

Last night, the Plan Commission approved the Madison Ave Housing Proposal with no discussion of the estimated 20 mil or $400,000 per bed price tag. 20M is chump change to OP as long as it does not come from its budget. The Fed pays the 20M so why care. We should care, irrespective of the village's financial fantasy. Due diligence is the responsibility of the board even when someone else is paying the bill. The board is required to consider costs on all projects whether paid by OP or the Fed.


Posted: March 4th, 2011 11:13 AM

For Chris Birkentall- This is exactly my point. You have people with good intentions who want the best for their children, then you put them in a building, lets say with a person with a drug addiction(no criminal record) and he robs your son or daughter in their own home so they can have a fix. You can easily rent a place for a few dollars more anywhere in O.P. without that kind of safety issue.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 11:06 AM

(contd)burdensome (and growing),local schools are unremarkable, and our proximity to Chicago's crime-ridden West side places substantial burdens on local law enforcement. Meanwhile, recent census results seem to show young affluent professionals moving to the Loop or close in Chicago neighborhood areas or to the outer reaches of the collars. Maybe it's time to take another look at that strategic plan.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 10:55 AM

It's probably still worth letting the Board know your opinions on this project. They won't know if you sit at home and say nothing. As is the case with all of the issues requiring Board consideration. This goes for both sides. I think this is a bad plan but I also think Oak Park faces far greater challenges than those of absorbing a low-income housing project. We lost population in the last census, and the fate of aging inner ring Chicago suburbs is highly uncertain. Property taxes are (contd)

j.oakpark from oakpark  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 10:36 AM

done deal. half of the plan commission are lock step card carrying members of the vma. what a joke. Macro, I am so very sorry for you. i lived near projects like this in wicker park, it was horrible. sell your house now, i am counting the days just 8 years to go for me before i am outta here.

Dave Heidorn from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 10:04 AM

Did you chooose to live in Uptown? Do you pay Uptown taxes? We are already near being another Uptown. The aggressive panhandling in OP businesses is noticeable. Happened again to me this weekend. Another reason to shop in Forest Park. From the start this project was a replacement for the Y SRO. Now we'll have 2 SRO-like projects while fed money could go to places in true need of housing. People really want their disabled child in an SRO? Naive suckers for OP housing pros' careers.

Chris Birkentall from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:45 AM

Property values have dropped not because low income people live here, but for bankers & Wall St greed. I am saddened to see so much opposition from liberal OP. I am very much in favor of this project for a few reasons: 1)My 18 year old disabled son might actually be able to live here in his hometown independently some day 2) Madison St needs people on it, not more auto repair shops. I did extensive research for a Graduate paper on the sad state of Madison, planned development is the answer!

Paul Clark from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:17 AM

One of the things I like about Oak Park is that while you can make assumptions about people based on where they live, you don't really know the circumstances of the people living inside. The beautiful house in the NW corner of the village may be in foreclosure. The bungalow south of the expressway may be the home of the most enterprising start-up in town. Designating a particular building in the village as the place where low income people live goes against the character of the village.

Ron from Oak PArk  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:15 AM

This is the real test for the Village Board who were voted in by the people of Oak Park. They can vote this down and should. If not they need to be voted out of office. Seems like the people of OP are against this project.

Jon Donohue  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:11 AM

To all the people who are afraid that your property values will fall, don't worry for the Village Board will not approve this in May. The Board is only interest in building overpriced condominiums with taxpayer subsidies. Also, the Board does not like poor people either. The Board may claim they are for diversity, but they really are not. Maybe the next developer will come in with a 250 foot building to replace the Comcast building. Now that would be great!


Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:02 AM

@Steve, This is not about property values, They are putting the people in the building and around it at risk. I have to protect my family first! Want to call me a bigot, come on over!

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:45 AM

Just off of Madison, a few blocks away from the building in question.

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:42 AM

Like I've said many times, I thought affordable housing there was a good idea until I read the plan.I feel bad for everyone that will be crammed into that building and for all of our collective headaches when they need a parking spot, and for the retail on the first floor that will have no designated parking.Traffic there is bad now.They have to restore the old car dealership facade on top of everything else.Crazy & expensive.Federal $ is our taxpayer money, btw.


Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:23 AM

It's misguided to call people names for being concerned about their home values. The real problem wiht this project is bad planning. The use should be commerical not residential. With the current focus on facade preservation over use, you could get a crack house approved in the old Foley Rice so long as you preserved the facade.


Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:22 AM

Where do you live Steve?

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:15 AM

I'm disappointed & feel the time I spent educating myself on this project and writing an opposition letter to the PC was a waste of time.But I would like to know why 2 voted against.My understanding is the PC is appointed not elected, so why so powerful?How often does the Board overturn their decisions?The planning and decision process in OP is very weird to me.(Like having a random group show up & vote on one night at the library to decide if OP can buy a bldg for social services on OP Ave.)

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:08 AM

The world doesn't revolve around your property values. But, if that is your main concern in life and you think this building will have such an impact compared to the state of Austin, Madison as an an artery to the heroin dealers, or the string of vacant properties east of Harlem... then there's not much you'll listen to. The bigots can leave Oak Park, we don't need them.


Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:01 AM

For Sale: 3BR, 1.5Bath many updates. 434 S. Grove(next door) Make an offer PLEASE!


Posted: March 4th, 2011 7:10 AM


Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 5:59 AM

As I stated on the previous thread about this topic...two words: foregone conclusion.

Not a Racist from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 4:46 AM

@ih8racists: There are 700 Section 8 designated housing units spread across Oak Park that arguably do the same thing. I will assume that there will be no racial bias as the developers fill the units with appropriate candidates. Regardless of the ethnicity of the occupants, this type of housing unit has been shown to be problematic. This project doesn't "do nothing for OP", it just doesn't do anything very new or very intelligently. This is all about misguided compassion which is VERY OP.

Live 6 Blocks Away from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 4:38 AM

I think I just felt my property value fall...sounds like I have about 3 years to sell before the crime statistics rise and school test scores fall. One question -- why wasn't this incorporated in the stalled mega-hotel development on Lake Street? You mean, you wouldn't want a housing project downtown? Why? You wouldn't want it in North Oak Park? Before you shout NIMBY, ask yourself if you'd move in next door. This is a turning point for OP...it's all downhill from here.

Anne from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 3:30 AM

These redevelopment plans are far more attractive than the ugly, empty building there now. Project opponents have shown their real concerns in the vitriol they spew, here and at hearings. The community of Oak Park is better than they'd like it to be, thank God.


Posted: March 4th, 2011 12:11 AM

"this project Does NOTHING for the city of OP." If by "NOTHING" you mean provides affordable housing for the majority of people who work in OP but cannot actually afford to live in the community, then that's a true statement.


Posted: March 4th, 2011 12:02 AM

@Mr. Lauber - thankfully the Board will look at reality - and weigh in on what is best for OP. This is not it. This planning group has to look BEYOND if it met the Standards. And -- did the Standards take into consideration the Taxpayers of OP and their home Values? If not, the Standards are not worth the Paper they are written on. You should know better as well - this project Does NOTHING for the city of OP.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 10:48 PM

Dan Lauber - Zoning and Fair Housing Attorney - Great post Dan. It inspired me to find out how objective you are. The quote below from your business website shows that you are 1% objective and 99% patronizing salesman. "We devise and implement strategies to win zoning approval for developments of all sizes and types that can generate neighborhood opposition. We have successfully neutralized neighborhood opposition many times."

Dan Lauber  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 10:14 PM

The proposal was approved because the weight of the evidence presented to it in public hearings showed that the proposal complied with the village's comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance standards were met. That's the way it's supposed to work. Zoning is not a popularity contest no matter how it's portrayed in TV or in the media.

Oakparkbob from Oak Park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 10:12 PM

Just what Madison street needs. A big housing project filled with poor people. That will stimulate business development in the area!

Chris Koertge  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 10:09 PM

That's okay, Patricia. It's just Federal Government tax credits. I'm guessing the Federal government still buys $17,000 staplers too, so $333,000 for a studio is a great deal relatively speaking. Oh wait, that's my TAX DOLLARS hard at work? Hmmm...

Ron from Oak Park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 9:47 PM

Can't believe this project got approved. This seemed like it was a done deal from the get go. But why? What are the positives of this project? Enlighten me.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 9:46 PM

So I had to take out my calculator to figure out that if it costs 17 mil to develop that means each of the barely bigger than a studio units will cost over 333,000 to build.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 9:33 PM

Hey Day Sleeper - You probably don't want to hear this when you are awake, but the project cost is somewhere between 15 and 20 million.

North East Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 9:17 PM

I don't live near Madison and Oak Park Avenue, but it seems to me that anyone with some economic sense and urban planning understanding would see this as a very bad idea. I have been following the comments from prior hearings,and for the life of me, I cannot see how this commission would dismiss the many stated concerns. I am very disappointed in these voting officials. What a BAD IDEA.

Day Sleeper  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 9:10 PM

They want to put WHAT?,in my backyard...

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