Fairview Station Flats
Project Spotlight – May 2023
This month, in the spirit of keeping things fresh and interesting, we shine the Studio Pages spotlight upon the Fairview Station Flats, an eighteen-unit apartment building nestled right in the center of Downers Grove’s “second” downtown. If you are a veteran reader of our newsletter, you may recognize this project when it was merely a set of drawings, and for our local residents, you may remember what used to be in the new building’s spot. The site originally housed a gas station and auto repair shop which had long fallen out-of-use. Craig Ross of Ross Builders came to Studio21
Architects with the idea of an apartment development with condominium quality, and due to the site’s proximity to the train station, it turned out to be the ideal spot to work with. With its location, the tenants at the Fairview Station Flats can enjoy easy city access with the METRA station just footsteps away.
In contrast to many of the apartment complexes that have popped up in recent years, Ross wanted smaller-scale, boutique living, with more focus on the amenities within the units themselves. Instead of communal pools or workout spaces, they opted for higher-end units with spacious rooms and high-end finishes. Open concept kitchens with islands large enough to accommodate seating, in-unit laundry rooms, and patios/balconies with privacy lent by sleek aluminum fences are just some of the features that make this apartment building appealing. One amenity in particular that proves itself very useful are the twelve indoor garages. With a mixture of one-car and two-car garages, and some units having direct access to them from their units, Chicago renters would immensely enjoy this feature, especially in the wintertime!
Before every stunning final product comes to fruition, there are unique circumstances that might require a creative solution during design and construction. One aspect that necessitated some creativity related to the site’s shape; the site was relatively small and on top of that, it was square. If you were able to take a bird’s eye look at most apartment buildings, they, for the most part, are situated on a longer, more rectangular, property. This project’s architect, Studio21’s Gregg Stahr, worked meticulously to ensure that everything worked within the space, while also designing with the developer’s ideas in mind. Storage space also involved creative design solutions. Most of us can agree that apartments generally lack in the storage
department, but in the spirit of condominium quality, Stahr worked to incorporate enough storage in each unit that would make any tenant feel organized.
The site posed another set of circumstances requiring smart solutions. In 2011, the Village of Downers Grove initiated the Downers Grove Comprehensive Plan, which set out to accommodate population growth to the area while reinvigorating certain areas. In the plan, this lot was originally slated for commercial use, however to no avail. Studio21 Architects had worked with other developers in the past who wanted to use this site for storefronts and ultimately chose other locations because of the lot’s size and shape. While well-intended, the Comprehensive Plan does not always work in every single regard, with this site as an example. With the idea from Ross and the expertise from Studio21 Architects, a multi-family development could intelligently use the space while still adhering to the Comprehensive Plan’s overall mission. Since the zoning of the site differed from the idea, Ross and Studio21 needed approval from the village council and plan commission. A small-scale apartment like the Fairview Station Flats could function well in the site without inundating the area with too much residential space—a solution for the community as a whole. For every single project our firm takes on, Studio21’s Design Discovery Review plays a crucial role, just as it did with the design of the Fairview Station Flats.
Revitalization often goes hand in hand with growth and is critical to preserving a community’s prosperity. Always a source of concern, residents need assurance that a new development will not cause issues with storm water, traffic or parking. This development’s team readily addressed each concern and created a bridge between the adjacent single-family homes and the business corridor to the north. The Fairview Station Flats exemplifies how research and good design can help revitalize an entire area.