The new tallest building in Oak Park is now complete as construction wraps up and the move-ins begin. Known as Vantage Oak Park, the 21-story building rises to 223 feet, creating a bump in the growing skyline emerging from the village’s thriving downtown aligned to the western edge of the municipality and adjacent to a nexus of transit options offered by CTA, Pace and Metra.
The building rises from the northeast intersection of Lake Street and Forest Avenue, at the eastern end of the downtown business district and just south of the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District. Being located next to the historic district created quite the controversy during the approval process when the project initially was planned as a mixed use building featuring retail, condominiums, a hotel and a sizable parking component to replace a stand alone garage owned by the village as well as a one story retail building.
The existing parking garage that previously occupied the site had reached the end of its useful design lifespan and as a complete renovation of the structure paid for by the village would have been necessary to keep the garage open, officials in Oak Park instead decided to enter into a public-private partnership with the development team to construct a new project in conjunction with a replacement garage. The new development would then create new tax revenue as well as more customers for local downtown businesses while offering an increase in the diversity of the village’s housing options. It was these benefits which prompted the village to green light the project, but when the approval was awarded, the great recession had set in and the project stalled.
Fast forward to 2014 when the project began construction as a redesigned building to accommodate a program switch to apartments, increasing the unit count while removing the hotel. The now complete building has 270 units and 27,000 square feet of retail aligned to Lake Street, extending Oak Park’s downtown commercial strip eastward half a block past Forest Avenue. The retail in the Gensler-designed building is arraigned over two floors with a masonry facade of alternating volumes and brick colors interspersed with triangular window bays breaking up the massing of the podium structure. The large parking component contained within the podium is buried into the interior of the block, wrapped by active spaces facing the adjacent streets, with the tower itself positioned to 'turn the corner' at Forest Avenue on the western edge of the site. The podium roof is then topped with an amenity deck for the residents.
Further west along Lake Street, the structures comprising the Oak Park Station project are now coming together. The two-building complex straddles both sides of Westgate Street and is being constructed on a former village owned surface parking lot. The north half of the site positioned along Lake Street is a five-story building being constructed as a wood frame structure atop a steel framed ground floor retail space.
To the south, a reinforced concrete parking garage is on the rise with the rest of the 20-story, 221 foot tall building soon to follow. In total, Oak Park Station will include 271 units between the two structures and 428 parking spaces in the tower podium. Despite the transit-oriented location, the project’s high parking ratio of 1.58 spaces for each unit was result of the village seeking to replace the public spaces lost from from the transfer of the municipal lot to the developer.
To the south of the combined CTA/Metra station at Harlem Avenue, another 12-story building with 250 units is also planned on another village owned surface parking lot with construction expected to begin by spring of next year. For the time being, this parking lot remains open for use at the southeast corner of South Boulevard and Harlem Avenue.
• Construction Activity Continues in Downtown Oak Park [Curbed Chicago]
• Downtown Oak Park is on the Rise (Literally) [Curbed Chicago]