Two new Oak Park buildings get the go-ahead

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A condo building and a new Walgreens, slated for a busy Oak Park corner, were given thumbs-up by the village board on Monday.

Walgreens is moving a few blocks east from its post at 916 Madison to the southwest corner of Madison Street and Oak Park Avenue. The move will allow the retailer to add a drive-thru pharmacy.

The facade of the 1920s-era Collins building, currently on the corner at 801-11 Madison currently Sear's Pharmacy), will be preserved and about 1,000 square feet of retail space will remain for another tenant. Customers will enter the 14,700-square-foot Walgreens by an entrance on Madison, halfway between Oak Park and Grove avenues. A 35-space parking lot would abut Grove, and landscaping would buffer it from the adjacent residential neighborhood.

The store needed several variances from the village's zoning ordinance to make the building work. The board approved those variances Monday, as unanimously recommended by the Oak Park Plan Commission.

Gregory P. Melnyk, an attorney representing the developer, said they are currently working on engineering studies on how to demolish the Collins building while preserving the façade. They hope to have the Walgreens up and running in 6-9 months, depending on how fast they get permits, he said.

The board also gave the green light Monday to a 4-story, 18-unit condo building at 6603-6609 North Ave., also recommended by the village's plan commission. The building, to be constructed between Columbian and East Avenues, needed a zoning variance, since it will be 10 feet higher and six units over what village code allows.

The project will include environmentally friendly features, such as a green roof and wind turbines. Architect John Schiess hopes to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the nonprofit U.S. Green Buildings Council.

Schiess said consultants are working on drawings for the project, which does not require a certain number of condos to be sold before construction starts because the property is owned by a bank, after the developer walked away from it.

He hopes construction will start later this year before the ground gets too cold to dig. It will take 14 months to build once work starts.

The village board still has to approve a final ordinance for the two projects, which is scheduled to happen June 15.

-Marty Stempniak

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