Developer miffed about hole in front of new Lake St. tower

Village to drops plan for $204,000 granite planter in front of Albion high-rise

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Village of Oak Park is rethinking its plan to install a $200,000 granite planter in front of the village's newest high-rise at the corner of Lake Street and Forest Avenue.

In the meantime, a large hole surrounded by orange construction barrels takes the place where the planter would have been located. 

It is the second time the village has reconsidered plans for that section of the streetscape in front of the Albion Oak Park residential building at 1000 Lake St. 

Originally, the village planned to install a decorative water feature in front of the building, but that was downgraded by the Oak Park Board of Trustees last year in an effort to reduce the cost of a $10 million downtown streetscaping project.

That streetscaping project, which includes Lake Street from Harlem Avenue to Euclid avenues, was originally planned to take place this summer but was delayed while the village focused on other projects, such as the so-called "road diet" project to reduce the number of lanes on Madison Street. 

One of Albion's newest residents is not pleased with the delay.

Andrew Yule, a vice president of development for Albion who also is a resident of the building, testified before the Oak Park Board of Trustees at its Sept. 9 meeting, identifying himself not only as an Albion executive but also as a taxpayer.

"We spent nearly half a million dollars on our streetscape," Yule said, noting the work the development company did on the sidewalk around its high-rise.

"Part of the commitment from the village of Oak Park is to provide us some kind of entry into the downtown district, and today we have a big hole sitting there with some construction cones waiting for something to happen," Yule said. "I'm not forcing you to make a decision one way or another, but I don't want to see a hole."

Yule added that Albion's development is a $100 million investment in the village. "I think we've done our share as a developer," he said.

Village engineer Bill McKenna said at the Sept. 9 meeting that the village put the project out for public bid in July and received only one response. 

He told trustees that the village worked to secure funding commitment from the nonprofit special service area organization Downtown Oak Park and from Albion, but neither entity would commit to helping fund the project.

"Staff is recommending rejecting the one bid we did get for that project," McKenna said. 

McKenna said in a telephone interview that as part of the planned development, the village did commit to installing the planter in front of the Albion building as well as installing street lighting and upgrading traffic signals at the intersection.

He said the short-term fix, until the streetscaping project next year, is to hire a landscaper to fill the hole with dirt and install plants. McKenna said he does not have a cost yet, but estimated that the quick fix would cost a couple thousand dollars. 

He said the village would put the permanent project back out to bid in January and that the planter would be included in the larger streetscaping project planned for 2020. 

The entire Lake Street streetscaping project is expected to cost $10 million, about $3 million of which will be funded by a federal grant.


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Reader Comments

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Amanda Poppenk Massie from Oak park  

Posted: September 20th, 2019 10:03 AM

At the Village meeting approx 6 weeks ago this cost was in the "Consent Agenda". I've learned to read everything in Consent Agendas because many Boards try to slip costs through without public discussion or input. I saw it and spoke in Public Comment that spending $200,000 on a planter was beyond irresponsible considering our constantly rising taxes and that planters from other areas in the Village ( Madison street fore instance) could be brought to that corner instead. Trustee Andrews had it pulled off the Consent Agenda, discussed and it was voted not to be approved at that time. Thank you, Deno. Yes, I realize the Village agreed to it, but things change. Mr. Yule can be angry all he wants, as most of living in Oak Park are regarding excessive spending and taxes. This "planter" does not benefit all of the Oak Park community and is an abhorrent example of poor spending choices. Say "no" to the planter. Spend money where it benefits ALL Oak Parker's. With 2020 budget planning now in process every dollar counts and spending $200,000 for a planter with special granite that has to be brought in from Minnesota is just plain ridiculous.

Dion Ewald  

Posted: September 18th, 2019 9:32 PM

And some have sailed from a distant shore And the company takes what the company wants And nothing's as precious, as a hole in the ground.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: September 18th, 2019 9:25 AM

$200,000? That must be some planter...

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: September 17th, 2019 9:41 PM

Yeah that whole "I'm a taxpayer and you should be servicing my every need!" worked really well for me too - back when I was miffed a high rise was going on the corner of Lake and Forest, Good luck with that Robert...and welcome to the neighborhood.

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