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Oak Park's Tallest Building Continues to Climb Skyward

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Oak Park's newest tall building is on the rise. The project, being developed by Sertus Capital Partners and designed by Gensler, will eventually stand 20 stories above the intersection of Lake Street and Forest Avenue in the heart of the suburb. The new building will house rental apartments, structured parking with a portion of spaces to be used as a municipal public garage and ground floor retail space. The highly controversial project was first approved in 2010, but stalled during the recession. The program mix was then changed from a hotel and condominiums to rental apartments and while some design alterations were made during a change of architectural firms, the overall massing of the building stayed relatively the same.

The project's parking garage includes a buy in of $8.4 million from the Village of Oak Park to acquire 300 of the 588 total vehicle spaces, which will be used as a replacement for the village-owned garage which used to stand on the site. The village determined that the old garage was at the end of its initial design life and the redevelopment of the site would be a better deal than a full scale renovation of the old structure. Additionally, the new tower will generate new tax revenue on what had been an underutilized property and will inject new customers into downtown Oak Park's business district, stretching to the west along Lake Street. The transit-oriented location will also likely funnel more riders in CTA, Pace and Metra which all converge in the immediate area.

The project was fought heavily through the approval process, both initially in 2009-2010 with the first proposal and again 2011 when the revised plans were submitted. Some of the opposition centered on the fact the tower is one block from the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District, where Forest Avenue to the north serves as a outdoor museum of Wright's work at the turn of the 20th century. However, the village determined that this tower is indeed appropriate to serve as a bookend to the downtown district which does already have a collection of high-rise buildings. Constructed started over the winter and the building is now starting to climb as the more complex parking levels are just about done.

Here's a look at the tower's progress over the last few weeks with photos captured by Curbed photog Harry Carmichael:

Shawn Ursini

·Downtown Oak Park is on the Rise (Literally) [Curbed Chicago]
·Parking Garage in Oak Park Closing to Make Way for New Tower [Curbed Chicago]