Madison Street senior housing project gets hearing

Project will go before plan commission on Dec. 5

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

A planned hearing on a proposed 174-unit senior housing development on Madison Street has been delayed until December after the developer failed to fully comply with a legal requirement that it notify all neighbors within 300-feet of the Plan Commission meeting. 

Originally set for Nov. 21, the plan commission will now hear the American House proposal for a seven-story senior living community on Dec. 5. 

"Their list of residents to notice was incomplete," said Craig Failor, Oak Park's village planner. "The village requires every applicant to do three things with notification. One is put a notice in the newspaper 15 to 30 days before the public hearing."

The second thing applicants must do is put signage on the property indicating the date of the hearing and the purpose of it, as well as who to contact.

"And then they're supposed to send letters out to residents within 300 feet of the proposed development site," said Failor. "The list that they used to send the letters was incomplete. It didn't have all the residents listed in that document that they were supposed to, so now they have to resend it out." 

There are no penalties on American House for not fulfilling the third step in its entirety, according to Failor. The only consequence is having to push the meeting to next month.

"Everything's going to be the same as far as presentation and their proposal," said Failor.

The proposed senior living community would be built at 711 Madison St., formerly a car dealership. The 256,725 square foot building would have 76 independent living units, 65 assisted living units and 33 memory care units for a total of 174 units or 222 beds. 

To build that large of a building, American House plans to request the vacating of a portion of South Euclid Avenue from Madison Street to the east-west alley behind the building to put in a cul-de-sac. 

"As part of the redevelopment agreement, they've indicated that they wanted to expand the building across Euclid and use Euclid as part of their development site," said Failor.  

"They have to put in the cul-de-sac because they're basically building over the street and it's a dead-end street at that point," he said. 

American House is planning to buy 725 Madison St., the location of Spike's Boutique Hotel for Dogs. Failor didn't know the status of the sale of Spike's.

"They are going to use that property as an open green space and relocate the utilities that are existing in Euclid, like water and sewer, ComEd and [Nicor], and shift that over to this green, open space," said Failor. The utilities would go underground. American House plans to make the green space accessible to the public. 

According to Failor, the village hasn't received many comments regarding the development. American Housing has had "several meetings with the neighbors," said Failor, and just recently went over the proposal with them.

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Reader Comments

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Dave Slade  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 11:38 PM

I'm gonna bet not many residents will be willing to make the life or death decision to cross Madison at Oak Park Ave., no matter what kind of diet Madison is on.

Michael Iversen  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 4:36 PM

Brookdale (Holley Court) expanded assisted living to 3rd and 4th floors a few years ago. Senior housing located on western part of Madison St., like Belmont Village, is close to Rush Oak Park Medical Center, which helps somewhat, but still difficult to access for some senior citizens. A revitalized Madison St. needs some pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, so village can encourage senior housing to contribute more than a bland suburban-style brick box and blank walls at ground level.

Brian Souders  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 4:23 PM

@Christine Vernon, The New Pete's Fresh Market will be right across the street for seniors to walk to. There are also plans in here for a small park and (I beleive) a phase 2 of streetscaping Madison for pedestrians.

Sandy Pedersen  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 3:45 PM

This development will include: Independent living, Assisted living, and Memory Care. No nursing care

Marty Bracco  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 2:56 PM

What isn't clear from the article is whether this is an assisted-living facility like Belmont Village, or an independent -living facility like Holley Court. I am very familiar with both properties, as my mother lived at each one over most of the last 12 years of her life. Assisted-living makes more sense based on the location, but again it's not clear and I've not researched the company involved. Our experience with Belmont was great, though mom benefited by having 4 of her kids (plus 10 grandkids) living in OP who could help her get outside and run errands, etc. I realize that's not everyone's situation. There will be a Pete's going in across the street, Walgreens is right there, and I'm guessing there will also be internal food service. If there is a market for this type of property here (and I'm guessing there is), let the market decide.

Adrian Rohrer  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 11:43 AM

From what I understand, Belmont Village is one of the nicer retirement communities in Oak Park, and it's also a seemingly very similar design on Madison as well, so not sure Madison seems like a decent fit for this sort of project based on past success of similar developments.

Michael Iversen  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 11:39 AM

Having been the primary caregiver for my Mom who lived in both Brookstone (then Holley Court Terrace) and Belmont Village (on Madison St.), I can say from visiting both places almost on a daily basis, a Madison St. location is a relatively challenging environment for senior citizens. For those who are mobility-impaired (cane, walker, wheelchair), Brookstone has nearby proximity to a passive park (Austin Gardens), shopping, restaurants, and theatre (downtown Oak Park), and grocery store (Trader Joe's). Unfortunately, due to Harlem Ave., the nearby Walgreens is inaccessible to most residents. Brookstone also has a dedicated pickup/dropoff drive with protective canopy set back from Ontario St. A top floor dining room with outside terrace, offers some of the best views of surrounding Oak Park and beyond. Belmont Village, on the other hand, only has a postage-stamp size rear outdoor area, suitable only a few weeks each year. There is minimal setback from busy and loud Madison St., with protected pickup/dropoff located in underground parking. There are no top floor / roof deck amenities. Its location is not close to hardly any desired places, and I can assure you, senior citizens are not attracted to programmed space parks, such as Fox Park. Mills Park is very nice, but too far from Madison St. except for the able-bodied. The building height of senior housing is not an issue, as almost every resident is reliant on elevators, and upper floors are usually more desirable for views and quietness. From a village perspective, the concern about senior housing is affordability, as well as neighborhood context (building design tends to be bland boxes) and lack of sidewalk appeal along a long building expanse (which creates negative space along their attempt to revitalize Madison St.).

Christine Vernon  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 9:59 AM

Marty, this is a senior citizen project smack dab in a commercially zoned street, not Lake Point Towers. Many seniors can barely walk more than the hall of their building. There is already a deficit in the choice of this this location for a senior residence, there is not even a grocery store in close proximity to this location that might motivate even a senior who needs a walker to get exercise. Either, as a community, we make a commitment as a Village to provide a good quality of life for all when it comes to open space as we do for children and other residents. Why leave out considering what seniors need? Or are we to put them on the altar of sacrificial lambs who are not entitled to that kind of consideration where their environment is important when it comes to nature... favoring the needs of developers to make money. Being a senior myself who happens to enjoy a backyard, I know how important the outdoors are to the human spirit, a necessary option for relief from being confined inside, and continually, when a person is in a condo or apartment. Once a person becomes aware of the benefits of being around nature, for most of us, there is no going back. Vitamin D is out there for the taking, when we are under the sun, and at no cost to anyone. Realizing the importance of open space outside in a natural setting is a higher sensibility about the quality of life a natural environment provides for seniors. It is beneficial to their well-being, rather than be housed daily simply in a small cubical which can be detrimental to their well-being. Surely, you know this to be true from your own experience being able to enjoy yourself in your own backyard, too.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 21st, 2019 9:58 AM

My Aunt is in a place like this that is located way out in the countryside. So lots of open space and fresh air. The thing is, the people living in these places never leave the building, and hardly leave the floor they live on. So talk of gardens and so on doesn't make much sense. But having the building near other family, who can easily visit is of much greater concern.

Sandy Pedersen  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 8:28 PM

And, Fox Park is hardly an amenity for seniors

Sandy Pedersen  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 8:15 PM

Marty Branco, I am sure you meant a block and a half, not a half block

Marty Bracco  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 7:13 PM

Ms Vernon, not to nitpick but Fox Park is one-half block south of the proposed building. Not immediately adjacent to the property but close enough to be a nice amenity.

Waldhorn Fafner  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 6:50 PM

Please, nothing under 20 stories. How can any money be made. The building where the hot dog place was surly must be going bankrupt.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 6:05 PM

Christine Vernon, it does mention about some green space included in the project. Limits on building were made for some reason although all you need is to get a special use permit and then it is time to build. People will get use to it after a while. Even if a Park was used for a development, then the Park just becomes a memory and eventually with new generations it really does not matter. There has been so much approval for building for the last few year's, that some one should get a statue built for making Oak Park the new city just West of Chicago. Eventually, the developments should trickle down to the tax payers and increase the value of home ownership

Christine Vernon  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 5:40 PM

Correction, the last sentence should say: "We keep trying to tell them (the Village) if they are going to build buildings that hight and ask for the privilege of being issued a "special use" permit, to strive for excellence, and both the developers and the Village Board and Planners give the public projects that are 'pedestrian' in design, purpose, and aesthetics.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 5:35 PM

It is difficult to understand why anyone would want to put seniors in a situation where there is no outdoor space for them to enjoy near them, at least a garden where they could sit outside in the good weather. There is a park, Stevenson Park near Heritage House; there is Mills Park near Mills Tower; but there is nothing near this proposed site. And the residents views will be either the street and the traffic or the roofs of surrounding structures. It's bad for seniors to be confined to human filing cabinets in a place like this in the first place as they age with no natural world around or near them that they can a time when the benefits and scientific evidence of being around nature is increasingly known. And the Village gives out a "special use permit" for height in order for the builders to do this. It is also bad to see that something is sorely lacking in this kind of planning and decision-making by the Village. We keep trying to tell them if they are going to build buildings that high and ask for the privilege of "special use" permits, to strive for excellence, and they keep giving the Village projects that pedestrian in design, purpose and aesthetics.

Eliot Abrams  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 5:30 PM

There's no such thing as out of scale. This isn't a painting. All we have here are 174 to 222 happy seniors and neighbors who will get accustomed to looking at a new building.

Sandy Pedersen from Oak Park  

Posted: November 19th, 2019 2:34 PM

American House has met once with the neighbors, not several times as stated. There have been many other meetings and comments to the village over the course of this long drawn out process when the previous operator was involved. American House has just recently joined the project team. This building is way out of proportion to the surrounding neighborhood. A 7 story brick wall 16 feet from the neighboring homes is unacceptable

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