Plan commission delays Madison St. development vote

Proposed senior housing project will return to the commission Dec. 19


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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The proposed Madison Street senior housing development will go back to the Oak Park Plan Commission on Dec. 19, giving American House, an affiliate of real estate firm REDICO, time to consider the commission's recommendations and public concerns expressed at the commission's Dec. 5 meeting.

"Given the amount of comments we've received this evening, I'm willing to give it a shot," said REDICO Development Senior Vice President Samantha Eckhout. "We'll see you on the 19."

American House and REDICO are asking for a variety of considerable zoning allowances to build the seven-story development at 711 and 725 Madison St. 

Requested zoning relief includes an increase in density from the maximum allowed 48 living units to 174 and a height increase from the zoning-mandated limit of 50 feet to 90 feet. 

These two requests have become chief concerns of residents whose homes border the two Madison Street properties on which the 256,725 square foot senior community would sit.

"If I could build it shorter and make the building work, I would," said Eckhout, while being cross-examined by attorney Stephanie Stinton, who represented the residents of the 500 block of Wesley and Euclid avenues. 

"The necessity of the height is truly economics," Eckhout said.

Project architect John Myefski stepped in to answer some of Stinton's questions, including those related to the increased density requested. 

"For the neighborhood, if we are talking to the south, it is a high density," Myefski acknowledged, "but for the street on Madison, I don't think in the future this would necessarily be considered high-density."

Other concerns voiced at the meeting included the impact construction would have on traffic and what impact a senior community might have on the neighborhood. 

The traffic study "is still a work in progress," said Michael Worthman of KLOA, the company conducting the study. But, Worthman said, the development will not greatly affect traffic, an assessment Village Engineer Bill McKenna agreed with.

"Senior housing is one of the lowest trip-generating uses around," Worthman said. 

Worthman noted that many senior housing residents don't drive or have access to a car. He also said visitors mostly come on weekends and in evenings, so they would not negatively contribute to rush hour traffic.

He also expects the majority of staff will use public transportation to get to and from work.

Worthman conducted the original traffic study prior to the reconfiguration of Madison Street. The project plans have evolved since then. Worthman will have the modified traffic study, which will address these issues, for the Dec. 19 meeting.

Residents requested Worthman take into account traffic from the planned, but not formally proposed, Pete's Market on Madison.

A few residents voiced support for the project, along with their concerns.

"It will be nice to be able to wheel my stuff down the block when I have to move in," resident Lisa Wilkinson said. 

Wilkinson, like many other public commenters, requested developers to look into putting in a cul de sac on Wesley Avenue, as they plan to on Euclid Avenue.

Citing height concerns, Wilkinson thought perhaps the cul de sac might allow developers to take the building down a story. 

Jason Fetzer, also in favor of the project, wanted the senior community to have a better trash plan, asking the village to work with the developers. 

Fetzer's wishes were echoed by Jill Mahaney, who said she constantly picks up waste, including used latex gloves, from the neighboring dialysis center. 

Many commissioners directed Eckhout and her team to implement more sustainable construction features, increasing the building's LEED score. The commission also requested the attendance of a fire department representative at the Dec. 19 meeting to address the potential fire-fighting complications that might arise with putting a cul de sac on Euclid Avenue. 


Article was updated to correct the spelling of a public commenter's last name.

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Michael Nevins  

Posted: December 15th, 2019 1:58 PM

And our local taxing bodies, with the possible exception of VOP, will take and spend every penny in additional property taxes received. I have no idea if this project is, in a micro or macro sense, beneficial or not for the residents of OP (why do we even bother with zoning restrictions any more?), but I now know that "adding to the tax base" of OP is purposeless. Board members and staff at OPRFHS proved this years ago and now they have a lot of company (it wasn't prudent mgmt of tax dollars which led to the $100M surplus - just the opposite). Can we at least get an indoor pool at this place - :)?

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