Forest Oaks to offer restaurant, rent-subsidized senior living

Village council approves Carefree Development's plans

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By Nona Tepper

Following approval by the Forest Park Village Council, developer Carefree Development LLC will soon start building senior apartments, a restaurant, healthcare provider and more at 7228 Circle Ave., with development stretching from the longtime home of Kevil's bar and restaurant to 7234 Circle Ave. 

Council members approved Carefree's plan for Forest Oaks Senior Apartments on April 23. Carefree plans to get shovels in the ground by mid-June, and have the project finished by the same time next year. While many senior housing developers are nonprofits, carefree is a for-profit entity.

"With the development gone up in Oak Park, and the high-rise going up at Harlem and South Boulevard, this area's really changing for the positive," said Phil Moeller, president of Oak Park-based Carefree. "There's nothing around like it in the entire area; there's a need for this in the village."  

Forest Oaks will consist of five stories of senior housing and accommodations, with commercial offerings on the 4,743-square-foot ground floor and 56 age- and income-restricted apartments on the ascending four. The complex will feature one- and two-bedroom apartments with in-unit laundry machines and balconies. The majority of two-bedroom units are designed as master suites and come with an adjoining bathroom. Common areas include a lobby, dining room, multiple lounges, library, exercise room and computer lab. The second floor will also have a patio and barbecue center. 

Occupancy will be restricted to seniors age 55 and older who have an annual income of less than $38,000. Carefree has also submitted 15 applications to the Housing Authority of Cook County for rental subsidies. If Carefree's applications are approved, 15 apartments at Forest Oaks will be priced for seniors at no more than 30 percent of their income. 

"What we're fighting is [the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] has stopped issuing subsidies, but we'll just hang in there and see what happens," Moeller said. "Even without the subsidies, our rents are extremely conservative; they're very low, so most seniors in the village would be able to afford the rent." 

Moeller cited U.S. Census Bureau data indicating about 1,000 seniors in Forest Park would be eligible to live in Forest Oaks, where one-bedroom units will cost between $800 and $900 per month and two-bedroom units will cost between $930 and $1,080 monthly. He said Forest Park residents would be given housing priority although he also expects residents from nearby Oak Park and River Forest will be interested in living in the building too. Interested applicants should contact Carefree at housingseniors.com.

Forest Oak's first floor will feature a restaurant that Moeller described as "quality, but not super expensive" with white linens, a lounge and piano bar and general American cuisine like steak. Next to the restaurant, he said Forest Oaks will house a home health-care provider likely from the Evergreen Park-based DK Healthcare Services Inc. If there is enough space, Forest Oaks could also feature a retail shop of about 1,500 square feet, but "it's hard to tell what's going to happen there because it's so early," he said. 

The development will feature 43 parking spaces, said Steve Glinke, director of the Forest Park Department of Public Health at the village council meeting last week. He said Carefree had also arranged to lease parking in a lot across the street and arranged for residents and visitors to use the parking lot of nearby Circle Bowl after hours. 

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com

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Reader Comments

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Pam Sopko  

Posted: February 20th, 2020 1:18 AM

Just to comment to Tom Gull... yes Mills Tower, Heritage house and The Oaks are senior low income buildings in Oak Park but there are 2 main differences. One is that if you are accepted into one of them you must give up your voucher. So, in essence, you are stuck there for the rest of your life. Forest-Oaks, on the other hand does not remove your voucher and it is a normal 12 month lease. The buildings in Oak Park do not have nice lounges and computer labs or exercise rooms. Nor BBQ area and patios nor private balconies. Their dining areas are also used for elections/polling, and are basically dingy uncomfortable school cafeteria type places. And this is not just a income assisted building. My understanding is the majority of units are occupied by regular average income people. Although it is now 2020 and they still have not opened their doors to new tenants, I am hopeful for all who have waited these 2 plus years that it will certainly be worth the wait. My only complaint is they are very hard to get any info from and what info that is given out from Carefree Development has thus far been sketchy and iffy. I hope they ( Forest-Oaks) realizes that people are involved in other leases and deadlines and other agencies and need some definite info ASAP. But I think it sounds like something that there isn't 2 of in this area. The new high rises are for the young up and comers. The senior housing in Oak Park are for the aged who mostly need help.In fact, from what I have seen of these senior buildings, it reminds me a lot of Housing Projects for seniors that got stuck in time 20- 25 years ago. I think this will be the perfect fit between the two.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: September 25th, 2018 1:11 PM

We'll see what 'green space' there is. But this development seems to be overbuilt. Looks like the other three sides will be built to the end of the property line. And only 43 parking spaces for 56 units. Arranged parking across the street and Circle Bowl 'after hours'.....after hours; so 1AM or so?

Jerry Webster  

Posted: September 25th, 2018 12:57 PM

Pam, the rendering shows sidewalk plus bush's or small trees.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: September 25th, 2018 12:53 PM

Tom, there are several places in Oak Park, 4 or 5 I believe. This has been tried several times in FP and always turned down, surprised this was passed.

Tom Gull  

Posted: September 25th, 2018 7:34 AM

Just, isn't the Heritage House on Lake St and Mills Tower, both in Oak Park, low income senior housing?

Judy Humowiecki from Oak park   

Posted: September 24th, 2018 12:30 PM

I am very impressed by how well thought out this development is. There is such a need for affordable housing. I only wish Oak Park could live up to its image as a leader in diversity and openness to various groups of residents.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: May 7th, 2018 9:40 AM

As the rendering looks like this building is right to the sidewalks, don't see how they could keep it. It's a shame but you know how it goes.

Art Kazar from Forest Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2018 9:26 PM

I hope they don't cut down that magnificent tree by Culligan. https://www.google.com/maps/place/7234+Circle+Ave,+Forest+Park,+IL+60130/@41.8864663,-87.8067244,3a,73.3y,143.77h,96.98t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s_csh4LuXLppQerZufgtM2g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x880e34db27387d83:0xf369c2fb706a2a84!8m2!3d41.886277!4d-87.8067148

Al Rossell  

Posted: May 4th, 2018 2:10 PM

I'm in Send me an application.

Cmwp Miladee  

Posted: May 2nd, 2018 4:07 PM

Where dio I apply for an apartment

Pam Fontana  

Posted: May 1st, 2018 3:10 PM

56 units and 43 parking spaces. Does the village not realize that people over the age of 55 still have cars and drive? This development seems overbuilt on the amount of land.

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