Oak Park and Madison Streets
Oak Park, Illinois
Early in 2006, Midwest Property Group, Ltd. identified an existing Walgreens store at Madison and Kenilworth streets in Oak Park as a relocation candidate.
It had poor parking, no drive-thru, poor access and had a store layout that did not enable Walgreens to offer a full complement of goods and services found in other stores.
The Midwest site acquisition team then did an extensive analysis of potential locations for a new store to be built. After ongoing consultation with the Walgreens real estate group, it was determined that the southwest corner of Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street proved to be the best relocation opportunity. The site entailed working with multiple owners, including Comcast, to assemble a site large enough to accommodate the store Walgreens Co desired to build.
Once the site was put under contract, Midwest engaged the architectural firm of Camburas and Theodore to do extensive site planning. Site plans were prepared to replace the mostly vacant buildings with new construction and a meeting was held with the Oak Park Planning Department in late 2006.
Oak Park immediately rejected the plans as they wanted a multi-level mixed used building with underground parking for the site, which was not a financially realistic plan. We then reached out to several local community organizations to ascertain their feel on our plan. They were practical and wanted the vacant eyesore buildings removed and gave us several suggestions on items they would support. Additionally, our legal team looked at the local ordinances and there was a clause that if significant parts of a building deemed historic by Oak Park historical regulations was reused you would not necessarily have to build a mixed-use building.
The building at the corner was formally known as the Collins Building and was the first car dealer on Madison Street in Oak Park. Due to this first, it was deemed to be a historically significant and fulfilled the clause.
After countless meetings with local groups, village staff, Walgreens, and structural engineers, Midwest and Camburas and Theodore devised a plan to save the façade of the Collins buildings and build a new building using the two walls. Starting in 2008, an application was made seeking approval for the project with the two walls saved. Over 30 meetings later and a 14-month process, the project was approved.
Demolition and reconstruction began and an elaborate scaffolding system was set-up to hold the two walls while hand demolition was done around the scaffolding. After this difficult and time consuming part of the project was completed, the new foundation, pier and new steel were installed to reconnect the old walls to the new superstructure.
As reconstruction was progressing, the Walgreen Company decided that this store would be an excellent candidate for some new cutting edge technologies to be installed. A geo-thermal heating and cooling system, the first of its kind in the country for a drug store was installed, lights and controls were designed that adjusted to the excellent natural light this west facing store enjoyed and a low flow water system was placed in the store.
Additionally, the latest design in pharmacy layout, health and wellness counseling areas, and a nurse staffed clinic were some of the areas added. A department with fresh produce and prepared sushi, salads, and sandwiches was introduced. All in all, while it took about 4-years from start to finish, this is a ground breaking project that has produced exceptional sales for Walgreen Co. and is a great addition to the neighborhood.