OPA Blog

Removable Designs For Your Apartment

Today design shows are everywhere.  Color is in.  But if you are a renter your walls are generally beige. (Okay, Oak Park Apartments is liking grey paint these days so we’re a little more design trendy.)
Painting yourself is a lot of time, effort and money. Plus, painting may not even be allowed and, generally, if it is you must agree to re-paint your place the apartment management approved color before you move.  So more time, effort and money.
So what options does a tenant have when you have a flair for design or just want to personalize your place a bit?
A couple of easy options to help put some style into your place are wall decals or removable wall paper.
Both are simple to install, relatively inexpensive depending on your personal preference and can be removed and taken with you when you move.

 

 

There’s More to Oak Park Architecture than Just Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright has put Oak Park on the architectural map, making our village a destination for those who love both architecture and history.
FLW may be the most famous of Oak Park craftsmen but there are other notable architects that have left their mark on homes, churches and yes, apartments, throughout Oak Park that are worth a look.
Tallmadge & Watson, George Washington Maher and E.E. Roberts are all noteworthy designers whose architectural impact justifies some attention.
Tallmadge & Watson – Widely know for over thirty churches designed during their partnership, the architectural duo of Thomas Eddy Tallmadge and Vernon S. Watson also put their mark on many numerous private homes.
First United Methodist Church of Oak Park is one such example of a Tallmadge and Watson ecclesiastical project.

 

George W. Maher – The John Farson house or Pleasant Home, built in 1847, is an Oak Park landmark and masterpiece designed by Maher.  Known for both prairie and arts and crafts styles of architecture, Maher’s other notable Oak Park designs include Unity Church of Oak Park as well as many stately residences.

 

E.E. Roberts –  Roberts established his architectural practice in Oak Park, designing well over 200 homes and apartments. His practice grew to be the largest in Oak Park, even larger then the famed Frank Lloyd Wright. Though his architectural styles varied, Roberts largely favored the Prairie Style and its’ horizontal lines.
Oak Park Apartments very own Park Manor Apartments at 173 – 186 North Grove Avenue is a unique E.E. Roberts design featuring whimsical gargoyles on a beautiful Tudor-revival building.

 

People & Pets – Occupancy Rules Apply

 

Both the Village of Oak Park and Oak Park Apartments have specific occupancy rules that regulate how many people can legally live in studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments.

Oak Park Apartments occupancy rules include:

  • Only the individuals listed on your lease may live in your apartment.
  • Only members of your household, as identified on your lease, may use your apartment.
  • If you need to add or remove someone from your lease at any point during the term of your lease please notify Oak Park Apartments Leasing Department.  This change may necessitate a need to re-apply and re-qualify as a tenant.
  • You may have a guest stay with you in your apartment for a maximum of 21 days. Any guest remaining in your apartment longer than 21 days is considered an unauthorized occupant, which violates your lease agreement and could be grounds for eviction.


Not only does Oak Park have occupancy rules for people but there are rules that apply to pets as well.  Oak Park allows 1 dog or 2 cats per apartment.  Along with the Villages rules Oak Park Apartments has a few pet-specific requirements as well.
  • Let Oak Park Apartments know if you have a pet or are planning on getting a pet when you sign your lease. If you are already living with us and decide to make a pet purchase, let us know as soon as you have cemented your decision.
  • Certain breed restrictions apply.
  • Chicago buildings do not allow dogs.
  • Pet owners are charged a 1 time $100 fee by Oak Park Apartments.
  • Pet owners must abide by the Village’s animal licensing, pet inoculation, neutering and/or spaying regulations.
The rules put in place by both the Village of Oak Park and Oak Park Apartments are designed to ensure a pleasant living environment for all.

Packing Tips For A Smooth Move

Moving can be stressful.  Whether you are moving into or out of one of Oak Park Apartments apartments we would like to make your move go as smooth as possible.
By following these simple packing tips you can be assured that you are organized and your belongings get to your new place, intact!
  • Don’t pack things you no longer use, need or want.  Sort by category.  All like items together. Then decide how many pairs of scissors, how many pizza cutters, how many sets of towels, how many of anything is necessary. Pare down, sell, donate. Be ruthless.
  • Start early, packing always takes more time then you expect.
  • Purchase plenty of packing supplies.  Especially heavy duty packing tape – you will go through more then you ever imagined.
  • Have an assortment of boxes on hand – all shapes and sizes will be needed.  You can save or find boxes for free on Craigslist.  Invest money in a wardrobe box for all your hanging clothes – truly a lifesaver.
  • In order to protect what is in your boxes have a variety of filler: newspaper – either shredded or full sheets to wrap breakables, towels, sheets, blankets (all free ways of protecting your things), and finally, save/purchase bubble wrap for your highly breakable belongings.
  • Pack away seldom used items and off season clothes first.
  • Pack a few boxes a day so you do not get overwhelmed.
  • Get out your Sharpie and make sure to label your boxes. List what you’ve packed on the outside of the box.
  • Organize your boxes by room – i.e.: bathroom – towels, shower curtain, bath rugs; bedroom – sheets, mattress pad, pillows. This technique will be especially helpful when you are unpacking.
  • Pack heavy items in smaller boxes so they are easy to lift and carry.
  • Take pictures of complicated technological setups like your T.V. – visuals are a helpful reminder.
  • Cover your T.V./mirrors/pictures with a towel or bed sheet.  Wrap and tape in bubble wrap. Finally, wrap and tape with heavy duty card board.
  • Do not seal your boxes until you are close to your moving date – you never know when you might need that winter coat.
  • As you get closer to your move pare down even further and start living on your absolute essentials – a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, few kitchen necessities, bedding and towels – pack the rest and know you ready for moving day.
  • Number all your boxes.
  • When you start taping boxes shut make sure to reinforce boxes that are heavy with extra tape.
  • Lastly, a good idea is to pack an “Open First” box.  Items that should be included are: important paperwork, medications, toiletries, 1 set of sheets, 1 set of towels, scissors (to help open other boxes), first aid kit, pajamas, & a change of clothes.

Who Started Apartment Living Anyway?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oak Park is a community rich with history and Oak Park Apartments likes to highlight that history. Pondering our own history made us curious about the history of apartment buildings and that search led us all the way back to ancient Rome.
Yes, we can thank the Romans for the creation of multi-family dwellings.  Back in 1st century BC populations were growing, land was valuable, the workers that were the backbone of village existence had to live close and living had to be affordable. (Some things never change.)
So out of necessity the Romans developed the insula (meaning island, because these buildings took up whole city blocks). Insulas were usually designed around an open courtyard, most were three stories high with shops on the ground level, and were built out of wood with little attention to interior detail. Soon the insula became the most common form of housing in Rome and by the 4th century apartments actually outnumbered private homes by more than twenty-five to one.
Public safety was not a concern until after the Great Fire of Rome. In 64 AD fire burned for days throughout the city. The poor construction of many of the buildings coupled with high winds made it nearly impossible to extinguish the fire. Hundreds died and even more were left homeless.
This devastation led Rome to establish the first building codes. Regulations for the sake of public safety were established regarding such things as using brick as a building material, wall thickness, construction height and a need for multiple ways for tenants to exit the insula. (Once again we see historical parallels.)
So Oak Parkers take look at your own “Oak Park” apartment and see the influence of ancient Rome on today’s modern living. Really not so different.  Well, today’s modern amenities – indoor plumbing, heat, electricity, to name a few – do make us grateful for 21st century living.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois is ranked fifth in the nation in tornado frequency per square mile and averages 45 tornado incidents per year. Last weeks earlier then anticipated start to the tornado season makes it even more important to have a severe weather plan in place and to know how and when to act on it.
Developing an effective strategy includes:
  • Have a plan 

    You may only have seconds to act from the time the siren sounds until a storm hits. The safest place is a basement.  If there is no basement, go to an interior closet, hall or bathroom on the lowest floor and stay away from windows. Cover your head with pillows or sofa cushions.
  • Practice 

    A brief drill and discussion about storm safety only makes sense.
  • Monitor 

    Listen for the tornado warning signal, tune into T.V. or radio weather stations and monitor the situation so you can be ready to act.  NOAA Weather Radio is the best means to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. The Village of Oak Park also has its own emergency notification service that will keep you posted via phone, email or text once you register. 
  • Be Aware 

    A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch means severe thunderstorms or tornadoes are possible in your area over several hours. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted by a trained storm spotter, or Doppler radar has detected conditions that will likely produce a tornado.
  • Act 

    During a tornado warning you should get to a safe place immediately. Do not hesitate to protect yourself and your loved ones. Go to your predetermined safe place, continue to monitor, if possible, and listen for the “all clear” tornado signal.

 

Getting Your Security Deposit Back

 

Oak Park Apartments, like all other reputable apartment management companies, requires a security deposit as a part of the terms of a tenant lease.
But what Oak Park Apartments really wants is to make sure you get your deposit back at the end of your lease agreement.
Why?  
Because we want you to be happy and we want our apartments to be in good condition. A win, win for all involved.
So here’s what you have to do as a tenant:
  • When you move in take note of existing problems.
  • Take pictures of your apartment – this is a good memory tool for both the tenant and the management company – plus its easy to do with your phone.
  • If there are repairs that need to be done then go to OPA’s website and fill out a maintenance request.
  • When your lease is up and a move date is scheduled it is time to thoroughly clean your apartment – which means thoroughly cleaning your refrigerator, stove, microwave, countertops, sink, toilet, tub, cabinets and floors – it will make a difference in ensuring you get your full deposit returned.
  • Before turning in your keys it’s time to again take pictures of your apartment in order to show the condition it is in at the end of your lease.
  • Turn in your apartment keys to management on or before the last day of your lease.
  • Provide a forwarding address so that your security deposit can be mailed to your new address – you can expect a check between 30 – 45 days.
Know that Oak Park Apartments strives for customer satisfaction, understands that normal daily wear and tear is different than true apartment damage and will return your security deposit if all terms of the lease have been met.

How to Hire a Qualified Moving Company

Moving is stressful.  Here are a few tips to simplify the process.
Before even considering what mover to hire sort through your things and decide what you can donate or get rid of because why move (and pay to have moved) things you no longer use or want.
Take an assessment of what you will actually require movers to move and what you can do yourself.  Your huge couch, bedroom set and flat screen t.v. might be best left to the capable hands of a moving company.
Get names and numbers of moving companies from friends – word of mouth is your best resource when selecting a reputable company. Look at online rating sites for reviews. Double check those companies with the American Moving and Storage Association to see if a moving company is a member. AMSA members are licensed, insured, comply with federal regulations, abide by ethical business practices and receive acceptable Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings.
Next, contact those moving companies to ask for an estimate. Know/list what you want moved. Many companies will actually come to you to provide a free estimate.
Movers charge between $70 – $100 an hour.  Be wary of pricing on either side of those ranges. Don’t pick a mover who bases their fees on weight – you could be in for a hefty surprise.
During the estimate process ask the representative from the moving company specific questions, such as:
  1. What extra charges could be incurred during a move?  You may not have enough information when the estimate is being given to completely cover all moving scenarios so its good to ask the expert.
  2. What is the estimated time the movers will arrive and will you be notified by the driver prior to arrival on your move day?
  3. About how long should the move take?  This is especially important to ask when you are being charged by the hour.  If the move seems to be taking much longer you might want to check in with someone in charge at the moving company.
  4. What supplies will the moving company provide?  Wardrobe boxes are very handy and might be worth an extra fee if you have many hanging clothes.
  5. What type of payment will the moving company accept; cash, credit card, check, personal or certified?
  6. When is payment expected?  Do not pay in full for a move prior to the move – EVER!
  7. Will the movers disassemble and then reassemble all items during the moving process?
  8. All legitimate moving companies carry insurance.  Ask for a copy of their policy.
  9. Ask if there are any additional fees – if there are, think twice about that company.  If the moving representative assures you there are no additional fees make certain that it is stated in your contract.
  10. Ask for references and then be sure to call the people on that list.
Prior to the move date you should notify the apartment management companies at both your present residence and the one you are moving in order to make any necessary parking arrangements for the moving truck.
Finally, if the moving company has done a great job, tip them.  The general rule is 15 – 20% for protecting and transporting your valuables.

Coffee: A Key Ingredient To Relationship Building

Today, being Valentine’s Day, is an important day to discuss tips for building a relationship.
Respect and trust are essential.  Yet, here in Oak Park, another key ingredient is coffee.
You are probably wondering what could coffee possibly have to do with relationships.
Simply stated coffee has taken on a higher purpose here in Oak Park in the form of Live Cafe.

Live Cafe is Oak Park’s newest coffee house located at 163 South Oak Park Avenue, in one of Oak Park Apartment’s commercial spaces.  And we know they are a special business.
What makes Live Cafe, one amongst many businesses who are selling great cups of coffee, different from the rest?
Its’ mission.
Live Cafe’s mission is to not only serve an exceptional local brew but to forge a lasting bond between the Oak Park and the Austin communities by opening its’ doors to share coffee and conversation. It is with these intentional steps towards understanding that real relationships will be established based on respect and trust. And that respect and trust will be what makes a genuine, positive, highly caffeinated impact on both of our communities.
So we at Oak Park Apartments are asking all who want a more meaningful connection between the Oak Park and Austin communities to make the effort to visit Live Cafe, enjoy some java and start to make relationships happen.

The History Behind Black History Month

 

Carter G. Woodson, son of former slaves, valued education from an early age. Growing up poor Woodson was largely self-taught.  Unable to regularly attend school he mastered core subjects on his own until, at the age of 20, he entered high school and earned his diploma in under two years. Woodson then went on to both teach and become principal at Douglass High School, from where he had graduated.
Continuing on his educational journey Woodson graduated from Berea College with a Bachelor of Literature degree, the University of Chicago with both a Bachelor and Masters degree in history and lastly, from Harvard University with a Ph.d in history. He was the second African American to receive a doctorate degree from Harvard.
Dr. Woodson’s education in literature and history exposed him to some real truths about how history books ignored African American and other cultures. He stated, “if a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” It is at that point that he became determined to change how people thought about black history.
Co-founding the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915, Woodson and others took charge of studying, celebrating and promoting African American history.  Woodson and the ASALH then worked to establish “Negro History Week” to “bring attention to his mission and help school systems coordinate their focus on the topic.”  The second week in February was chosen in respect to the birthdates of Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and Fredrick Douglass (February 14th).
Over time the number of activities associated with “Negro History Week” grew too great to be contained to just one week so, in 1976, president Gerald Ford formally decreed February as Black History Month.
Dr. Woodson, along with many others who believe that education is a powerful tool to defeat racism, have changed the way people think and live.  And for that we are grateful.

The people of Oak Park choose this community, not just as a place to live, but as a way of life. Oak Park has committed itself to equality not only because it is legal, but because it is right; not only because equality is ethical, but because it is desirable for us and our children. Ours is a dynamic community that encourages the contributions of all citizens, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital and/or familial status, mental and/or physical impairment and/or disability, military status, economic class, political affiliation, or any of the other distinguishing characteristics that all too often divide people in society. – Oak Park Diversity Statement