OPA Blog

Oak Park Apartments – Vintage Craftsmanship

Oak Park 
Apartments loves its’ vintage courtyard apartments because these buildings have character, both inside and out, that can not be found in new construction. 

Built between the early 1900’s through the 1920’s, these properties hearken back to a day and time when craftsmanship was about the details.  From crown molding, built-in bookcases and decorative fireplaces on an apartments interior to the exteriors impressive stonework, stained glass and grand entryways, each building was distinctive.  

Appreciating the quality and craftsmanship of these historic buildings, Oak Park Apartments has made restoration of these properties a priority.  Getting rid of questionable design choices that happened over the decades, updating utilities while adding in the necessary 21st century upgrades has always been the goal. 

One Lightbulb Can Make An Eco – Difference


Earth Day 2017 has just passed and as a tenant of a rental property you may ask yourself, “What can I possibly do to be eco-conscious in my apartment?
Oak Park Aparments has one very easy green fix to help you reduce your carbon footprint.
Switch out your standard incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFL – the curly bulbs) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. This simple switch can dramatically reduce how much energy you use. The technology behind the CFL and LED light bulbs has greatly increased energy efficiency, will lessen your carbon footprint and will decrease your electic bill to boot.
But how do you know what type of bulb to purchase?
Here’s just a little bulb knowledge to help shed some light on the subject….
The standard incandescent bulb not only produces light but it also gives off heat.  It is the heat emitted from the incandescent bulb that “eats up” electrical energy.
CFL bulbs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), use 75% less energy, produce 75% less heat and last up to 10 x’s longer  than an average incandescent bulb.  These bulbs are readily available at most stores for around $4 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of pounds. The major con to CFL bulbs is that they contain mercury, which can be harmful to both humans and the environment if not handled properly.
LED bulbs last up to 50,000 hours (amazing!) – 8x’s longer then even the CFL bulbs. They contain no hazardous materials so they can either be thrown out or recycled, last around 15 years and stop over a half ton of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the environment.  The major drawback to LED’s is that the initial cost can range in price from around $7 up through $50+ for a bulb (but remember to factor in over a 15 year life span you’d be saving $$ long term as well as being Earth friendly.).
So by simply replacing a light bulb or two every month you can make the world a “brighter” place (and greener, too!)
Just as an FYI: Home Depot and Lowes offer recycling sites for CFL bulbs.

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.
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.