As many CTA riders have surely noticed, construction is well underway at The Residences at the Grove, the eight building townhome and condominium project next door to the Blue Line station.

The 200-unit development is expected to be open by May of 2007, according to Tim Anderson, president of Focus Development, which is partnering with the Taxman Corporation for the development at 7700 Van Buren St. The two companies have also partnered on the Madison Commons residential and retail project at 7247 Madison St

Over 50 percent of the units being constructed during the first phase of the project, which includes a condo building with 70 units and four townhome buildings with 30 total units, have been sold. The second phase is scheduled to begin late this summer.

“We’re very pleased so far,” Anderson said. “At this point, we’re selling from plans. We’ll open a model for end of May, so people will really get a sense of the quality of the project.”

So far, Anderson said, a good portion of the buyers have been from the immediate area, with 40 percent coming from Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.

He described the majority of the buyers so far as “younger buyers and move-down buyers.”

“I think what we’re seeing is people from [the western suburbs] who are familiar with the area and want to live here because of the convenience to Madison street, the ‘L’ and the Eisenhower,” he said.

Anderson said he is also encouraged by the possibility of the YMCA moving next door to the village-owned portion of the Altenhem property. No announcements have yet been made regarding the status of those ongoing negotiations.

“We see [the YMCA] as a positive,” said Anderson. “You basically have a health club across the street from where you live.”

The project did spark some controversy in the village when it was first proposed, with commissioners Patrick Doolin and Terry Steinbach expressing concerns regarding its effect on traffic, police and local schools, among other things, and ended up voting against approving the project in January 2005.

More recently, Doolin, who opposed the rezoning of the Abell-Howe and Ockerlund industrial properties, said that though it is obviously too late to do anything about the project, he feels that the village could have found a better use for the property.

“I just don’t think it was the best option for us,” Doolin said. “I think we could have found something better if we had waited.”

Proponents of the project, on the other hand, pointed to the contribution it would make to the village’s property taxes, which was estimated at about $1.4 million per year.

The developers agreed to widen the intersection of Madison and Van Buren streets and to add left and right turn lanes to the intersection in order to ease traffic concerns, though some did not feel that enough had been done.

Anderson predicted that traffic problems will be minimal due to the high number of residents who chose the development because of its proximity to public transit. He said that based on the profile of buyers so far, he doesn’t anticipate that the development will pose a burden for local schools.

One-bedroom condominiums at the 6.3-acre site will sell from between $181,990 to $258,990, while two- and three-bedroom units will sell for between $288,990 and $442,990. Townhomes are priced from $356,990 to $407,000.