My Tour Of The Comcast Building Neighborhood

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By John Hubbuch

Judging from some of the comments I read on, it is clear that at least some of the citizenry is concerned that  at least some of the tenants of the proposed low income housing for the Comcast building will contibute to making the neighborhood sketchy.


My  morning walk to the YMCA takes me along Madison from Oak Park to Home. I got news--that stretch already is kind of sketchy. There's the abandoned Comcast Building, a vacant lot filed with pots of dead flowers and shrubs. There's the fireplace store closed by court order for the failure to pay taxes. And the old now shuttered  Walgreen's. On the southside of Madison in that same stretch there is an abandoned gas station and two big lots of weeds and gravel where Fenwick parks its busses.                                                 

The whole stretch in the early morning resembles a post-apocalyptic scene straight out of AMC's new zombie show The Walking Dead. The neighbors and the Village have a lot more to be concerned about than some low income people moving into the Comcast Building.    

One more thing. At the corner of Madison and Home Avenue is The District 97 Administrative Office Building. If there is ever a contest for the ugliest building in Oak Park, I would like to nominate this almost windowless monstrosity. It looks like a regional office of The Center for Disease Control or a CIA safe house for waterboarding.

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Reader Comments

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john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: February 14th, 2011 12:26 PM

Thanks for taking the walk. I don't disagree with your assessment of Oak Park Avenue to Kenilworth or the street west of new Walgreens to site of the Old Walgreens (which is reportedly being replaced by A Dollar Store.) It is an area that has been completely ignored by the village and the Madison Coalition. The Madison Av Housing Proposal fits the area if you believe it is a wasteland beyond regentrification. It is not. The question is How Does the Housing Proposal Enhance Development?


Posted: February 12th, 2011 2:47 PM

For the ugliest building in Oak Park contest, I nominate my neighbor: Burt Goldstein of 727 S Wisconsin. He has not painted his house in years and his Christmas decorations are still up. Also, he has patio furniture from the 1960's.

Rich from South oak park  

Posted: February 12th, 2011 2:41 PM

I have some valid concerns about this alleged plan. #1, Where am I supposed to get my fireplace accessories now? I have needed a stoke for my fireplace for 2.5 months, but now there is no fireplace store. Also, I think John Hubbuch is exaggerating the problem. I have not witnessed any zombies in the comcast building neighborhood. I asked my neighbors and they did not report any zombie sightings either. To my knowledge, zombies usually stay in the Berwyn/Cicero area.


Posted: February 10th, 2011 12:23 PM

Oak Park has a significant number of properties that are exempt from property taxes. Consolidating offices would get some of the prime locations back on the tax rolls.

Peter Traczyk from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2011 9:07 PM

I don't know how I missed this gem from John Hubbuch, but his categorization of the D97 Admin building is spot on. I'd love to see D97 partner with another taxing body and move from this retail first floor space to some type of shared government center. Unfortunately the down economy has cut the value of the D97 Admin building by nearly 50%, making it difficult to meet the goals of the Madison Street Plan in a fiscally prudent manner.

Chris Koertge  

Posted: February 9th, 2011 4:07 PM

@John: I appreciate the clarification and agree that there are more challenges than just the Comcast proposal facing this stretch of Madison. I believe approval of the Comcast development pushes the future of the Madison Corridor in the wrong direction. I wish the Village trustees would spend 1/10 the time and money addressing the Madison corridor that they've put into Lake Street. There's no reason the success of Forest Park on Madison couldn't seamlessly continue through Oak Park.

John Hubbuch from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2011 10:00 AM

I mean no offense to the neighborhood. As a homeowner in the 900 block of South Euclid ,I love my block though there are some vacant stores near me. The neighborhood is great, but walk the stretch of Madison I described ,and come up with a better adjective than "sketchy". The Comcast Building is only part of the developmental problem.

Chris Koertge  

Posted: February 9th, 2011 7:55 AM

John, I'm proud of the neighborhood I chose to buy a house and raise a family in, and I take strong offense to your summary of Madison. I don't appreciate your insinuation that the Comcast development shouldn't be opposed b/c the area is already run down. Perhaps you could help us lobby the Village to spend some of the money spent on Lake Street on a stretch that really needs some help instead of comparing it to "The Walking Dead". Why does OP so badly want to bury this part of the Village?

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 9th, 2011 2:09 AM

It's ironic that you would call the area "sketchy" in what sounds like an attempt to defend the Comcast building project. I agree with what others have said. If there are already enough problems in the area, we need to work on those before we can say we're primed for taking on low-income housing projects. You're right. We do have bigger concerns. We need to fix those before we do anything that has the potential to exacerbate our problem with "sketchiness".

rather shocked! from Oak PArk  

Posted: February 8th, 2011 4:45 PM

Where does Hubbuch get off describing the Comcast building neighborhood so negatively? OP Mom, OP Resident and others there will only be negatively affected by these personal opinions and judgments. How unfortunate!

OP Resident  

Posted: February 8th, 2011 7:58 AM

Thanks for the glowing review of essentially my back yard. It's great that editorials on the Wednesday journal are painting this neighborhood as skid row. The Walking Dead, huh? Wow, that might get you a Pulitzer Prize. I'm sure your article will further help our property values as potential neighbors check the local papers to get a feel for the area. Between the Comcast stuff and this glowing review I'm sure I'd run like hell. Maybe now you see why we're so concerned about this project?

OP Mom  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 3:24 PM

This is exactly why we're concerned. And "Gosh, it couldn't get much worse..." doesn't make me feel better when I fear not being able to sell were I to need to. My house is already worth 100 less than I bought it for even though I did a major remodel.

Sarah from Oak Park   

Posted: February 7th, 2011 2:40 PM

That is why folks are worried it might get more sketchy. Can you attract ANY retail with LOW average household income in the surrounding blocks. Every BUSINESS needs foot traffic WITH INCOME. I owned a bakery. At some point a developer came in and asked if I would consider moving my business right next to an Aldi. I love Aldi. Shop there a lot. But I KNEW my business couldn't thrive in a plaza that attracted low income customers. It's good COMMON business sense.


Posted: January 31st, 2011 7:50 AM

Kudos to you for checking out the scene in some detail. (It's more than I have done)

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