District House — The new gateway to the Hemingway District

District House, marking the eastern gateway to the Hemingway District and downtown Oak Park

District House, marking the eastern gateway to the Hemingway District and downtown Oak Park

Situated at the gateway to the Hemingway District and downtown Oak Park, District House is located near what many consider the symbolic heart of the village — Scoville Park. The park anchors the Hemingway District, a retail district comprised of eclectic restaurants and shops that extend along Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street.

District House aims to capitalize on its incredible location and create a retail experience that is as unique as the building’s architecture. While much of the focus up to this point has been on the residential component of the District House project, considerable thought has gone into the ground floor retail and pedestrian experience along Lake Street.

Project developer Campbell Coyle Real Estate has led a series of catalytic retail projects, those lessons now being applied to this unique context: "There is an opportunity to establish a sense of place and really mark the eastern gateway into the Hemingway District and downtown Oak Park," said Chris Dillion, President of Campbell Coyle. "We’ve started with inspirational design, but it extends to our retail strategy and other aspects of the building’s relationship with the pedestrian scale. It may be a modest amount of retail space, but we’re convinced we can do something special here, both with the pedestrian experience and the mix of retail uses that we incorporate."

With approximately 4,500 square feet of retail space fronting Lake Street, the project’s development and leasing teams are targeting between two and three retail concepts. The plan is to blend best-in-class national retailers with more unique Chicago-based uses. With residences above the retail, particular care has been given to select high quality tenants compatible with luxury condominiums above. Among the possible uses currently under negotiation are coffee and boutique fitness.

The project’s leasing is directed by Phillip Golding, Vice President of CBRE’s urban retail group. "We have a unique opportunity with District House to capitalize on the growing mix of restaurants and retail that exist in the Hemingway District and downtown Oak Park. With recent brewery openings and restaurant announcements, we believe that the urban context offered by Oak Park and the Lake Street corridor is very compelling."

In addition to an upgraded streetscape incorporating bluestone and other features consistent with recent developments on Lake Street, the project team is pursuing a suspended lighting system over the sidewalk area. "The lighting will appear more modern than the Marion Street application, but that precedent inspired us," said Frank Vihtelic, the listing broker. "The lights will both emphasize the transition to downtown and serve as yet another subtle design feature on Oak Park’s most design forward new development."

Rafael Robles