what's wrong with this picture?
A proposed residential tower at 835 Lake Street would overwhelm and overshadow surrounding historical structures, including Unity Temple, and Scoville Park.
Does Unity Temple look pasted in here? That's because the developer left it out of their elevation image. What do they not want you to see?
835 Lake Street: THE FACTS
They wanna do WHAT?!?
You’ve heard right: proposals for a high-rise, high-density building—such as Golub & Co.’s 256-unit, 28-story “luxury” rental—are coming to 835 Lake Street.
On the south side of Lake only 150 feet east of Unity Temple and directly across the street from Scoville Park and the public library—AND in the Ridgeland/Oak Park Historic District.
What’s there now?
Currently owned by US Bank, this property is occupied by its drive-up bank facility and by a surface public parking lot operated by the Village of Oak Park. Not the best use of this spot at the heart of our town, for sure.
Wait, didn’t Village Board President Abu-Taleb come out publicly against this?
Against a 28-story tower, yes. But he left the door open for 20 or 14—still a huge tower relative to everything around it.
Why so darn big, fer goodness sake??
With high-rise developments pushing up the perceived value of land in central Oak Park, developers say they must build big to make money—or build high on 835 Lake’s compact site. A 28-story building, for example, will require a zoning variance for 299 feet on a lot zoned for only 45. And currently the tallest building on the block is only 6 stories high.
What’ll that do to everything around it—the recently restored Unity Temple, for example?
A tower will overshadow everything to the east, north, and west, depending on time of day. Even at the summer solstice, Unity Temple, with its glorious skylighted interiors, will be engulfed in shadows during Sunday morning services, according to Golub’s own shadow studies. On winter afternoons, a 300-foot tower would cast a shadow up to 900 feet long, extending well beyond Oak Park Avenue. And that’s just the shadows.
Hold on, what else?
A tall tower would create high winds on a major pedestrian route (as Vantage has created on Forest). Added residences and the proposed US Bank retail space and drive-up facility will bring greatly increased traffic and congestion to Lake Street, already the least efficient east-west route in town. Vehicle exits from the building onto North Boulevard will increase traffic there, too, and service vehicles, such as delivery and refuse trucks, will bring permanent added disruption for residents and business owners in surrounding buildings. And just imagine how the scale of this huge tower will relate visually to everything else on the block, including Unity Temple.
Won’t they include a garage? We’ll get more public parking, anyway, won’t we?
Not necessarily: the garage in Golub’s proposed development, for example, would only serve residents and bank customers and employees. The current 39 public parking spaces on the south side of the lot would have to be “absorbed” by The Avenue garage—or add to pressure on already limited street parking.
But high-rise construction in Oak Park lowers our property taxes, right?
Has that happened yet? Local property taxes have actually gone way up since Whiteco (home to Trader Joe’s) was completed almost a decade ago, despite the promises. Our experience as residents is backed up by research findings and by the numbers.
Will there be any affordable units?
Developers currently aren’t obligated to include them and they haven’t done so in downtown Oak Park. There, the new high-rise apartment buildings are setting a new high for rental rates: a 2-bedroom unit goes for more than $3000 per month. That’s affordable only for those with annual incomes well over $100,000.
Doesn’t sound like something I want to see in Oak Park. How can I help stop it?
Join VOICE's campaign against the tower and help us advocate for appropriate, sustainable, and context-sensitive development in Oak Park. Start by joining VOICE and checking out these easy ways to make your voice heard.
We lost such fights before. Aren’t these high-rises inevitable and unstoppable?
No! This time can be different—here’s why: 1) Our collective experience with these proposals will enable us to fight smarter; 2) The proliferation of massive high-rise developments in Oak Park and the way they get built despite public opposition has fueled a rising tide of frustration that we can draw on; 3) 835 Lake is at the heart and center of our town: it’s perceived as everyone’s neighborhood; 4) The upcoming election on April 2 could change the nature of the Village Board and the process by which existing high-rise projects have won approval over public opposition. Help VOICE elect independent trustees who will put community interests over those of developers.
We can fight this. We have to fight this.