Oak Lawn’s Planning and Development Commission (PDC) unanimously but conditionally approved the Advocate Medical Group’s proposal on Monday for the development of a 58,400 Square foot, two story building to built on the east side of 52nd Avenue, with parking on both sides of that street.
The Advocate Medical Group plan includes physician’s offices, labs, imaging, a pharmacy and an immediate care facility. What it doesn’t include is a plan for townhouses that are being pushed for by Mayor Sandra Bury and Village Manager Larry Deetjen.
At the Friday, July 15th meeting conducted by Village President Mayor Sandra Bury, the village unveiled plans for townhouses that Village Manager Larry Deetjen described as “low density”.
Mayor Bury said that “it has been said that you shouldn’t jump from commercial to residential”. She said that there has been a lot of discussion among the Trustees about a residential buffer between the Advocate Medical Building and the homes that begin on 96th Street. Bury and Deetjen also spoke about a plan to build the townhouses on the parking lot parcel west of 52nd Avenue on Beatty’s property.
Bury claimed that the Trustees have been having discussions about the project although a review of minutes of village meetings for the last three months did not uncover even one such discussion. Nonetheless Bury stated, “There is a lot of support among the trustees for moving the Advocate Building further north and putting a row of townhouses”. Bury’s statements contradict Deetjen’s statements recently that the village didn’t have any of the plans.
Bury provided a slide that she said depicted quality townhouses she found on an internet search for townhouses in Chicago. Village Manager Larry Deetjen said there would be 18 to 22 units. Deetjen said that the concept of such a development was tested with local realtors who he did not name. However, he said that the realtors told the village staff members that there was “a passionate need for additional quality housing and that they didn’t want to compete with the condominium market”. He didn’t provide any documentation to the neighborhood residents or even the PDC members.
Deetjen said the townhouses that the administration has been looking at are similar to those in Chicago neighborhoods such as Wrigleyville, 18th and Prairie, and Wicker Park. He said the townhouses would have a lower level with two car garages, a walk up to the living room, kitchen and dining room with a third floor for the bedrooms. He said that there probably would also be a bedroom and study behind the garage. He said the units would probably be two to twenty two hundred square feet. He did not supply the price of such townhouses and didn’t provide any drawings or building plans despite the apparent specificity of his statements.
Bury said that the plan was sketchy and very preliminary. She apologized for not having a rendering of the townhouses. When residents asked how the Planning and Development Commission (PDC) could make a decision on the plans when everything remained sketchy, Deetjen stated that the PDC would approve the Advocate request for a parking variation with the condition of Advocate agreeing with the village to a development plan.
On Monday, July 18th, the Planning and Development Commission met to discuss the variation, and as predicted by Deetjen, the PDC did approve the Advocate plan and added a condition that Advocate “work with the village per the 95th Street Corridor Plan” for the west parcel. As such, the Village is now requesting that the townhouses be built on the area designated for parking on the west side of 52nd Avenue. At the first meeting, Trustee Robert Streit dismissed the idea and noted that townhouses on the west side of 52nd Avenue would not provide a “buffer” to anything.
However, the buffer idea of townhouses on 96th Street has been scrapped by the village and instead landscaping and frosted windows on Advocate’s building will be added to create the “buffer” for the residents. The Architectural Review and Design Committee will meet on July 28th and are expected to discuss landscaping issues, as well as the design of the building. At this time, there has been no indication from the village on when residents will be able to provide input on the townhouse concept.
Streit has reportedly contacted the Village Manager asking that he set a date for the residents to meet with Advocate to provide real input. The meeting on Friday the 15th was scheduled for that purpose but it was used by Bury and Deetjen to present their ideas while never discussing the residents’ concerns.
It is unclear who would build townhouses but Advocate would not be building any townhouses. Also, the railroad has thus far refused to sell the railroad spur that sits along the tracks to the north of the development. Village officials have not stated whether the project will be approved if Advocate refuses to agree to the townhouses.
The conditional approval of the project is dependent on Advocate reaching an agreement with the village on the issue of the multi-family component of the village’s plan. (The second video shows the short discussion regarding the contingency while the first video is longer and contains Bury and Deetjen specifically discussing their plans for multi family development at Beatty).
Credits: Photo by Michael Dominic. Video by Brian Schaeflein.