What is “The Altenheim?”

The phrase “the Altenheim” is commonly used to refer to two different things. First, it refers to the approximately 11-acre village-owned property at 7824 Madison St.  Second, it refers to The Altenheim, a not-for-profit senior living apartment rental community for persons 55 and older. (Learn more about The Altenheim senior living community at thealtenheim.com).

Both definitions are correct; the village-owned property is divided by the active and vibrant Altenheim senior living community. The northernmost section of the village-owned property, commonly referred to as “The Grove,” is separated from the southern section of the village-owned property by The Altenheim senior living community.

For the purposes of this page, the village-owned property will be referred to as Village owned property at Altenheim and the senior living community will be referred to
as the Altenheim Senior Community.


What is “The Grove?”

“The Grove” is the northernmost part of the Village owned property at Altenheim.


What are the current uses of the Village owned property at Altenheim?

Currently, The Grove is used for Village sponsored activities such as Ribfest, Groovin’ in the Grove and staging for the Firefighters’ 5K. The southern end of the Village owned property at Altenheim has been used by the Park District of Forest Park for drive-in movies and as a parking area for events held at The Grove.


Can residents use the Village owned property at Altenheim? I have seen people having picnics there or letting their dogs run around. Is that allowed?

No.


When did the Village buy the Village owned property at Altenheim?

The Village made the purchase in August 2001 for $3.6 million. The Village made its final payment in November 2021.


When did the Village demolish the vacant buildings on the property? What was their previous use?

The Village received grant funding for demolition of the unsafe and no-longer-usable buildings; demolition began in March 2021. In addition to taking down the derelict buildings, work included removing a substantial amount of asbestos, performing soil remediation and leaving the ground in a “shovel ready” condition.

The buildings had been long-abandoned but have a fascinating history. You can read more on the Historical Society of Forest Park’s website at https://www.forestparkhistory.org/altenheim.html


What is the “restrictive covenant” included in the Village’s purchase of the property?

When the Village of Forest Park purchased the Village owned property at Altenheim, the Altenheim Senior Community (the seller) included restrictions on future use of the property by the purchaser. The restrictions are as follows:

“Purchaser may develop eight (8) acres of the property into residential dwelling units, or any other use permitted under R-1 and R-2 of the zoning ordinance of the Village of Forest Park, provided that such use will not interfere with the reasonable, quiet enjoyment by the residents of the A and B buildings of their apartments and of the surrounding property retained by the Altenheim.”

“Purchaser may use the existing buildings on the property for governmental office type business, as it shall reasonably determine, provided that such use will not interfere with the reasonable, quiet enjoyment by residents of the A and B buildings of their apartments and of the surrounding property retained by the Altenheim.”

LINK TO RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT CODE


What does that mean?

In short, the board of the Altenheim Senior Community has a lot to say about the nature and type of development opportunities for the Village owned property at Altenheim. Village Staff, the soon-to-be established Altenheim Advisory Committee and the elected officials are committed to determining the “highest and best use” for the property – always keeping in mind the unique and one-of-a-kind attributes of the land. At this time staff has no preconceived notion of what is the best future use for this land.  Vetting any concept/proposal contrary to the restrictive covenants would require further discussions with the Altenheim Senior Community board and a broader discussion with the community at large.


A TOD has been mentioned as a possibility for the Village owned property at Altenheim. What is a TOD?

TOD stands for Transit Oriented Development. In short, it is a compact, walkable, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use community centered around high-quality train systems. One of its goals is to create a lower-stress life for residents, less dependent upon cars for mobility and survival because of their proximity to public transportation.  The Village owned property at Altenheim is situated within walking distance of the Forest Park stop on the CTA Blue Line.


Has the Village entertained any development opportunities in the past?

A potential sale to the Oak Park YMCA fell through in 2007. In 2012, Fenwick High School offered to purchase the south section of the Village owned property at Altenheim for athletic facilities, but that project expired in the early planning stages.


W
hat are the recommendations for the property in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan? (And what is the Comprehensive Plan?)

Let’s answer the second question first. A comprehensive plan outlines a community’s vision and includes the recommendations and policies that will help achieve that vision. It provides a detailed framework for the preservation and enhancement of community assets, while guiding development and investment decisions.

The future land use map in Forest Park’s current Comprehensive Plan identifies the Village owned property at Altenheim as Community Facilities/Institutional.  However, the current plan was published in 2014, and changing needs and/or recommendations were inevitable. With shifting work practices related to COVID-19, commercial vacancies, and market demand changes, recommendations in the comprehensive plan may not be applicable today.

LINK TO VILLAGE’S COMPREHENSIVE PLAN


Was there ever a village-sanctioned committee to talk about the Village owned property at Altenheim?

In 2016, an ad hoc committee was assembled by the Village to look at future use of the Village owned property at Altenheim. The committee first recommended a band shell and concert venue but over the years amended its recommendations to better accommodate the restrictive covenants.  The committee ultimately advised that the southern part of the Village owned property at Altenheim should be kept as contiguous green space but the northern part should be developed, if financially necessary, as a TOD.


Is there a committee now? If so, how is it different?

Now that the buildings are down and the ground is shovel-ready, the Village is in the process of assembling an Altenheim Advisory Committee.  The Village seeks diverse community representation that will include those in closest proximity to the property (such as the Altenheim Senior Community and The Residences at the Grove). The goal of the committee is to provide guidance and leadership in the public input process within the overall consideration of the uses and future of the Altenheim property and to work with Village Staff to collect ideas, information, and make recommendations to the Village Council. The committee shall ensure that objectives are met in an open and unbiased fashion. The Altenheim Advisory Committee is strictly an advisory board. 

Altenheim Advisory Committee Application


Who will make the final decision on what will happen with the Village owned property at Altenheim?

The Altenheim Advisory Committee will work closely with Village Staff and the public to explore best uses for the Village owned property at Altenheim. Their findings and recommendations will be forwarded to the Village Council for final consideration.  It’s important to note that any proposed development will require one or more pre-approval public hearings before the Zoning and Planning Commission.


How will the Altenheim 
Cemetery be affected by any Village development?

The one (1) acre parcel at the SW corner of the property belongs to the Altenheim Senior Community and is referred to in the purchase agreement as “excluded property.” As such, it cannot be part of any future development of the land and is not owned by the Village of Forest Park. See item 12 of the Terms of Agreement located in the
Purchase Agreement dated August 22, 2001.


Who from the Village is facilitating community outreach in regards to future development of the Village owned property at Altenheim?

Village Administrator Moses Amidei

Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd

Commissioner of Public Health and Safety Maria Maxham

Director of Building, Planning, and Zoning Steve Glinke

MUSE Community Design, Village of Forest Park Planning Consultant, Courtney Kashima

Altenheim Advisory Committee

If you have any questions or suggestions, please email: mamidei@forestpark.net

Pre-Demolition Photos – Spring 2021

Post Demolition Photos – Fall 2021