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Thread: Redevelopment in Forest Park, IL - increasing density the good way

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Redevelopment in Forest Park, IL - increasing density the good way

    The following series of photos are of a new mixed use building on the main street portion of Madison St in downtown Forest Park, IL. Forest Park is a streetcar suburban place that was bascially built out by 1930. There are two Chicago Transit Authority 'L" lines (Green & Blue) and a Metra commuter rail stop within walking distance of Madison St.

    It is a decent and increasingly desireable place to live with lots of new multi-family development and condo conversions and steadily increasing house prices. Plus, it allows for 'bars' to operate as opposed to Oak Park and River Forest (two historically 'dry' towns).

    Well, this development (Madison Commons) is a boost to the commercial frontage on Madison St. and adds about 30 or so new housing units, without really affecting the locality.

    Here is an aerial of the site from 2002:

    The site is in the red box.












    The interior of one unoccupied commercial space.












    Underground parking for residents.






    Behind the ground floor commercial spaces and off the alley is a public metered parking lot.











    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Not bad. Not bad at all. Thanks, Mendleman.

    I do wish modern commercial construction had the quality and detailing of the Victorian and pre-Civil War era, though. Still, a major improvement over what the site plan showed.

    Is this kind of densification happening thoruhgout most of Chicago's first and second tier suburbs?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    Do you know who the developer was? I like the embedded parking and green roof!

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Is this kind of densification happening thoruhgout most of Chicago's first and second tier suburbs?
    Yes. it is particularly active in the suburbs and city neighborhoods with decent to good transit access (commuter rail, 'L' lines, etc). I think it is a great boon for the region and should be greatly encouraged.

    Quote Originally posted by bocian
    Do you know who the developer was? I like the embedded parking and green roof!
    Focus Development
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I like it. Nice development.What is the interior of the block like? I'm having trouble understanding just where the parking is... under, or also in back, exposed?

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Wow, they're doing this in Forest Park?? This is great to see.

    This kind of development (with even higher densities and more stories) is prevalent throughout Chicagoland and still continues heavily. Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Palatine, and Elgin are great examples of places I am most familiar with.

    And it's slowly working it's way out to the outer burbs, as Algonquin is already seeing row house type condos along the Fox River and Crystal Lake is getting transit-oriented development near it's Metra stations including condos, townhomes, and retail. Fox River Grove also has a very ambitious downtown redeveleopment plan complete with condos with retail underneath and a restaurant/marina complex on the Fox.
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    The only caveat I would have is does this type of development enable changes in behavior (e.g., drive in utopians), or are we simply getting more Cadillac Escalades per acre -D-with the resulting traffic jams? My San Francisco living brother has evolved-he used to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin county to do his shopping at suburban malls. He doesn't anymore

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    The only caveat I would have is does this type of development enable changes in behavior (e.g., drive in utopians), or are we simply getting more Cadillac Escalades per acre -D-with the resulting traffic jams? My San Francisco living brother has evolved-he used to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin county to do his shopping at suburban malls. He doesn't anymore
    Well, I know I can't get into many restaurants and the other retailers/services are doing good business. Traffic's not that bad, because Metra is so popular now that you can barely find a seat on the train or a parking spot in the commuter lot.

    And it's not just yuppies moving in. There are older people (empty nesters) as well. There's quite a mix.

    While there may be Ann Taylor Loft, Borders, Fantastic Sam's, H&R Block, Subway, Corner Bakery, or a breakfast diner below your condo in some of the Chicagoland downtwons, you still have to go to the mall or the retail strip for some of your shopping. It significantly eliminates the constant trips to the neighborhood strip mall though.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    I do wish modern commercial construction had the quality and detailing of the Victorian and pre-Civil War era, though.
    Are you feeling OK, BKM ?!?!

    Joking aside; it looks fairly good.

    In purely stylistic terms:
    Spatial releif of mass and corniches at the top. String course below corniche. Above-window detailing (could be much ebtter but...) COlor cotnrasts in 'natural' building colors of brick / tan / white. The ground-floor detailing could be better and teh entrance a bit less stripped but not too shabby. The balconies could 'swing both ways'. I think the plainer the building, the worse balconies look, in thsi case they're borderline. I tell you what, thsi si better than 90% of new buildings so .

    As the BKM-man sez, though, it ain't Richarson or Boyington or McKim/Meade/White.
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Are you feeling OK, BKM ?!?!

    Joking aside; it looks fairly good.

    In purely stylistic terms:
    Spatial releif of mass and corniches at the top. String course below corniche. Above-window detailing (could be much ebtter but...) COlor cotnrasts in 'natural' building colors of brick / tan / white. The ground-floor detailing could be better and teh entrance a bit less stripped but not too shabby. The balconies could 'swing both ways'. I think the plainer the building, the worse balconies look, in thsi case they're borderline. I tell you what, thsi si better than 90% of new buildings so .

    As the BKM-man sez, though, it ain't Richarson or Boyington or McKim/Meade/White.
    LOL... My point has always been that I find most modern commercial developer attempts to recreate the classic Victorian and Edwardian streetscapes very lacking.

    Of course, modernism has not provided a very good urban vernacular, either, so....I'm stymied.

    This example is pretty decent, actually If only they used real, load bearing brick and real stone and plaster. Oh well.

    I thought James Howard Kunstler did a good analysis of some "new traditional" buildings in his town (Saratoga Springs) in his local newsletter.

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    This example is pretty decent, actually If only they used real, load bearing brick and real stone and plaster. Oh well.
    Actually, that is my biggest problem with this development. When it was going up the exterior walls of the 2nd-4th floors was built with 2x4 insulated panel sections and then the brick exterior was added as a facade. I hope it holds up as well as masonry load bearing walls would in 50 years.

    Plus, they used too much EIFS for the cornice and the yellow band under the cornice.

    I hate EIFS in any application.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Actually, that is my biggest problem with this development. When it was going up the exterior walls of the 2nd-4th floors was built with 2x4 insulated panel sections and then the brick exterior was added as a facade. I hope it holds up as well as masonry load bearing walls would in 50 years.

    Plus, they used too much EIFS for the cornice and the yellow band under the cornice.

    I hate EIFS in any application.
    Is that EFIS around the windows on the balcony as well?? I don't mind EFIS THAT much when used at a high elevation like it is here, BUT around the windows is not such a good place for the product. I have a building here that the entire rear elevation was constructed of EFIS, a skateboarder put his foot through the wall. I can only imagine how it will hold up in a residential setting that gets a lot of use....

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    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    The only caveat I would have is does this type of development enable changes in behavior (e.g., drive in utopians), or are we simply getting more Cadillac Escalades per acre -D-with the resulting traffic jams?
    The price of land and buildout in many parts of Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe is driving more density with project that look similar this. The problem I see is exactly the same, there really is no change in behavior that I see coming. Scottsdale in particular has seen a huge influx of condos and high rise (for Scottsdale) building but there is not a good mass transit system . Gridlock anyone? I have been working on a lot of these lately, and they just have more underground parking.

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    Quote Originally posted by ludes98
    The price of land and buildout in many parts of Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe is driving more density with project that look similar this. The problem I see is exactly the same, there really is no change in behavior that I see coming. Scottsdale in particular has seen a huge influx of condos and high rise (for Scottsdale) building but there is not a good mass transit system . Gridlock anyone? I have been working on a lot of these lately, and they just have more underground parking.
    San Francisco debated limiting (imposing a MAXIMUM) number of parking spaces in the new residential development south of downtown. There was significant pressure from developers to still allow significant new parking garage space. It appears, though, that many of the condos are being purchased as part-time pieds-de-terre, so the traffic impact may be less, but still significant.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    > What is EIFS ? Sounds like something you catch from Thai poultry.

    > BKM, you mention load-bearing brick quite often (the idea being that non-load-bering bricks are bad or not as good). My understanding is that, especially for larger buildings, load-bearing brick is an antiquated method of cosntruction both in cost terms and effects. As long as it is properly bonded to avoid mainteannce problems, why should brick not eb sued as a facing in the same way that paint or plaster are used as a facing to make a building look nicer? I'm honestly interested in the answer folks.
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    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    > What is EIFS ? Sounds like something you catch from Thai poultry.
    It stands for Exterior Insulation Finish System. It is basically foam board insulation covered with color permeated stucco. In addition to stucco they use brick or stone facades as well.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    That is a good infill project. I particularly like the commercial uses visible in some of the pictures. They provide a service that is easy to walk to. I have a small neighborhood commercial district up the street from me and it is great to walk there to get a haircut, dog groomed (when I had a dog), pick up some bagels or a book and a cup of coffee. Sadly, I see some of my neighbors drive there sometimes. It is literally 1000 feet away.

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    > What is EIFS ? Sounds like something you catch from Thai poultry.

    > BKM, you mention load-bearing brick quite often (the idea being that non-load-bering bricks are bad or not as good). My understanding is that, especially for larger buildings, load-bearing brick is an antiquated method of cosntruction both in cost terms and effects. As long as it is properly bonded to avoid mainteannce problems, why should brick not eb sued as a facing in the same way that paint or plaster are used as a facing to make a building look nicer? I'm honestly interested in the answer folks.
    You're right, of course. Especially out here in earthquake country.

    I guess what bothers me is how cheap, plastic-y, and manufactured modern facing brick looks. And, that's because of automated, rationalized manufacturing. Most people probably don't care-I'm just being persnickety. Didn't Quinlan Terry insist on lad bearing brick at Richmond Riverside? For "ethical" reasons related to craftsmanship and honesty of materials?

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    You're right, of course. Especially out here in earthquake country.

    I guess what bothers me is how cheap, plastic-y, and manufactured modern facing brick looks. And, that's because of automated, rationalized manufacturing. Most people probably don't care-I'm just being persnickety. Didn't Quinlan Terry insist on lad bearing brick at Richmond Riverside? For "ethical" reasons related to craftsmanship and honesty of materials?
    Dunno about Richmond Riverside. In any case in the UK (dunno about US) brick walls are really two walls (i.e. it's a c'avity wall'), wher the interior one nowadays is built using cinder blocks/breeze blocks.Question for the engineers, would it at all make sense to have the structure of the building (i.e. the floors/eilings) borne by a concrete/steels tructure and the brick be 'self-supporting' in the sense that it would not just be stuck on (it of coruse would ahve to be ALSO stuck on, otherwise the drafts.. ).
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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Dunno about Richmond Riverside. In any case in the UK (dunno about US) brick walls are really two walls (i.e. it's a c'avity wall'), wher the interior one nowadays is built using cinder blocks/breeze blocks.Question for the engineers, would it at all make sense to have the structure of the building (i.e. the floors/eilings) borne by a concrete/steels tructure and the brick be 'self-supporting' in the sense that it would not just be stuck on (it of coruse would ahve to be ALSO stuck on, otherwise the drafts.. ).

    Cinder block has not been used in construction anywhere in the developed western countries for probably 30 years. Concrete block is most likely what you are seeing.

    In the US it is easier to build (depending on the final product) using frame construction due to material and more importantly labor cost. Whereas in the UK masons and masonry cost about the same, but steel is more expensive and wood construction practically unheard of.

    The type of construction you describe above is typical of most US applications of brick (veneer construction)

    I think you guys would benefit from exploring Means Construction Data (thrilling reading kept my up at night when I was an intern, but for the wrong reasons) it is the next best thing to shadowing a construction estimator.

    As for the project in question, well executed, albeit a tad dull, could have used greater fenestration on the first (retail) floor. Windows look poorly detailed. Probably could have benefited from a material change completely on the first floor from above providing a traditional “base”
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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Dunno about Richmond Riverside. In any case in the UK (dunno about US) brick walls are really two walls (i.e. it's a c'avity wall'), wher the interior one nowadays is built using cinder blocks/breeze blocks..
    Very large numbers of buildings in Chicago are built like that too. This building might be a wee too big though. Most block/masonry construction here is in the form of threeflats. I imagine that it's block underneath but the real weight is being supported by a steel frame. I suspect that the bricks also could be a curtain supported by a metal lattus hanging from the steel frame as well.

    Quote Originally posted by Howard Roark
    Cinder block has not been used in construction anywhere in the developed western countries for probably 30 years. Concrete block is most likely what you are seeing
    That's strange. I was in a construction zone a little bit ago and I picked up some blocks and I didn't think they were near heavy enough to be pure concrete. Maybe I'm stronger than I thought.
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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    That's strange. I was in a construction zone a little bit ago and I picked up some blocks and I didn't think they were near heavy enough to be pure concrete. Maybe I'm stronger than I thought.

    Your probably still weak

    There are various materials to mix w/ concrete to get a lighter block, i.e; lighter aggregates and gypsum.

    Cinder block was made w/ cinders (duh) or spent coal, when the cinders are subject to moisture they produce sulfuric acid, which weakens the block and causes bas spawling.

    I am actually dealing with this problem right now on rehab of a 100 year old warehouse w/ cinder mix concrete floors
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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Instructive, Roark. When I was in the US 'cinder block' seemed to be sued as a generic term but I'm sure you're right about them being made of concrete. NAyhow they ones I've seen look like concrete.
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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Here is the existing buildings along the same stretch of Madison St. They consist of mainly 1900-1930 streetcar suburban "Main Street" style buildings.











    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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    God, I can feel the icy slush penetrating my shoes as we speak. Brrrrrrrr.

    Seriously, though-excellent examples of the vernacular Chicago pre-war commercial that the modern stuff can only hint at. Note that I'm not denying that this is a good, well-planned project that will be useful and helpful in regenerating the city.

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