The developer of a controversial proposal to build a 28-story luxury apartment building half a block from Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple has announced that they are withdrawing their plan.
Golub & Co., which announced last year the plans to build the new high-rise at 835 Lake St., said in a letter to Oak Park trustees and others that the company has "elected to terminate our efforts to redevelop" the site.
"We continue to believe this location is an outstanding opportunity for developing a high-quality, architecturally appropriate multi-family building that could contribute to the urban fabric of the community," Golub vice president Michael Glazier said in the email.
Glazier said that feedback from the Unity Temple community and others in Oak Park caused the company to conclude "there is not sufficient support for our plans at this time."
"Having previously developed the Vantage project, we remain bullish on the prospects for continued demand in Oak Park for high-quality, multi-family housing that contributes to the community's unique character and economic growth," Glazier said in the email. "We look forward to working on other potential opportunities in Oak Park and engaging with the community in the near future."
Neither Glazier nor Golub principal Lee Golub could be immediately reached for comment.
Heidi Ruehle-May, executive director of the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, said in a telephone interview that Golub representatives attempted to work with various stakeholders at Unity Temple to rework their proposal for the high-rise.
"It didn't turn out the way they wanted, but the process went positively," she said.
Ruehle-May said she hopes that any future proposal takes into consideration the safety and experience of those at Unity Temple and stays within the context and proportion of the neighborhood.
The proposed 299-foot building was controversial not just because of its proximity to Unity Temple but because of the shadow the statue would cast over the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy released a statement, following the announcement, noting that the tower would have cast a shadow over the sanctuary and adjacent Unity House.
"Not only did our serious concerns of how light, shadows and context would affect the integrity of the building and the experience within the space, but there is high probability that this or any development above the current underlying zoning would negatively affect the urban scale and historic streetscape of this block of Lake Street," the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy statement noted.
The group recently nominated the building as a World Heritage site.
The announcement comes nearly four months after Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and the board of trustees voiced their opposition to the project.
"I do not envision, nor do I support, a 28-story building on this site," Abu-Taleb told Wednesday Journal in early December. "I have, therefore, asked Golub to revisit its plans and explore other options that would not place Oak Park's tallest building in this location."
Abu-Taleb said in a recent interview, "I wish we were able to find a way to say yes."
He said the result of Golub walking away is a lost investment of $125 million in Oak Park "with zero tax-dollar subsidy."
"We also lost the potential of creation of over 400 full-time construction jobs; we also lost the opportunity of welcoming 500 new residents to the village; and when we say no to such a development, we also have lost the potential of creating 25 units of affordable housing or $2.5 million in lieu of (in-building units)," he said.
Answer Book 2018
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