Mixed-income apartments planned for South Oak Park

Four-story would go on empty lot at S. Oak Park Ave. and Van Buren St.

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

A new mixed-use building is planned for the fenced-off parking lot at the corner of South Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren Street.

The proposal by Community Builders, Inc., a non-profit real estate developer out of Boston, would include 37 mixed-income units – mainly one-bedroom and efficiency apartments, and ground-level retail.

The building would be constructed next to the commercial retail space currently occupied by Divine Consign, which announced in February that it is relocating to North Riverside.

Kirk Albinson, project manager with Community Builders, said in a telephone interview that the project is in its earliest stage and the group is "excited about working with the village and introducing this concept to the neighborhood."

A public meeting is planned to discuss the proposal at the Maze library branch, 845 S. Gunderson Ave, on Tuesday, May 29, at 7 p.m.

The public notice for that event notes the building will include "community retail and live-work units along the ground floor" that will "activate the corner while complementing the shops, restaurants, services and businesses already located on the block."

"The proposed transit-oriented development will predominantly focus on providing high-quality housing that is available to a range of incomes," the notice states.

Albinson tells Wednesday Journal, "The intent is to help strengthen that retail block."

Community Builders plans a number of studio apartments, one-bedroom units and a couple of two-bedroom units.

"Our focus is on the advantages of the transit-oriented development features with the Blue Line and walkability of the community, providing rents that appeal at a range of incomes with a strong focus on catering toward people in the workforce that live in Oak Park," Albinson said.

He emphasized that plans are still in the early stages, Community Builders envisions two live-work spaces on the ground floor and a commercial space at the corner of South Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren Street.

He noted that the building to the south, which currently is home to Divine Consign, is not part of the project and will stay as-is.

Albinson said it is too early to say how much the apartments would cost or the square footage of the units.

Albinson said that Community Builders is known for high-quality developments and "we expect to do nothing less at this site."

No definitive timeline has been established for the project, but Community Builders plans to go through the village government's development permitting process over the next 12 months.

"The goal would be to start the project sometime around mid-2019," he said.

Community Builders has constructed buildings in and around Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and areas in-between, Albinson said.

More information about the company is available at www.tcbinc.org.

Albinson described the company as mission-based with a "focus on helping revitalize communities and helping individuals achieve their true potential."

"How can we impact the built environment and help communities grow and be sustainable over the long term?" he said.

The property is owned by Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest. Walter Healy, president and CEO of Community Bank, said in an email that the property is under contract.

"I think it's a good thing for the south side of town," he said.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Jolyn Crawford  

Posted: May 17th, 2018 8:40 PM

Finally development in another commuter friendly area; a low rise and affordable housing!

Adrian Rohrer  

Posted: May 17th, 2018 10:04 AM

HUD already requires that units be adaptable in multi-family developments. It's federal law. There are several advocacy agencies across Chicagoland that also follow up with developers to ensure compliance, and this type of project (since it will very likely will seek affordable housing grants) will likely face even the heightened HUD disability requirements as a result.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 16th, 2018 9:12 PM

Adaptable units for people dealing with physical challenges need to be included in this development. There remains a critical shortage of affordable housing options for disabled residents in our community. Has anyone in Village government communicated with the builders regarding the situation?

Zach Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2018 1:20 PM

As someone that lives around the corner, this seems like great news! Will be nice to see additional foot traffic/energy in the area, which will no doubt be a good thing for the local business on OP Ave. Also, this literally right along a bus route and a block from the Blue Line, so who cares about parking?

Tom Gull  

Posted: May 16th, 2018 11:39 AM

Somehow I always manage to find street parking in Old Town, Lincoln Square and Andersonville which are all much more dense than Southtown Oak Park. Glad to see the possibility of development on that block.

Judith Warren  

Posted: May 16th, 2018 9:52 AM

37 units adds parking needs for those residents taking away from customers. So that 1 block walk now becomes 3 blocks. That's why parking is a necessary component.

Lauren Arends  

Posted: May 16th, 2018 7:08 AM

I think this is great news! I live on Carpenter Ave, a short walk from this stretch of Oak Park Ave. There's always plenty of non-permit parking on Carpenter and Grove. Those of us who are able to walk a few blocks might consider doing so and saving the spots along the street right by the businesses for folks who need to be closer.

Adrian Rohrer  

Posted: May 15th, 2018 8:47 PM

I honestly don't understand the parking concerns. My children have gone to daycare right in that area, and my wife and Inhave frequented Sen Sushi, Obsessed, Addis Cafe, etc. on the regular, and I've never had to park more than a block away. I wish we could break out of the strip mall mentality as a Village where adequate parking means literally less than 50 feet from the door.

Carolyn Cullen  

Posted: May 15th, 2018 7:42 PM

In the proposal they gave to the Housing Programs Advisory Committee, the drawings show 26 parking spots behind and some inside the first floor of the building.

Greg Lewis from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2018 4:18 PM

I didn't see anything in the article about parking. If the developers (and the Village) are serious about improving retail, as well as increasing neighborhood residential availability, then parking must be provided. Parking is already a challenge. Public transportation is available, but is hardly a problem solver. Parking isn't very glamorous, but it's necessary. People will neither shop nor live where they can't park.

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