OPA Adds Instagram To Social Media Line-Up

We’ve all heard the old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words… pair that quote with new technology and bam, no wonder why Instagram has 150 million plus users who are uploading over 55 million pictures a day. OPA has to agree that this little app is hot.  And like with any other relevant social media OPA wants to keep up with the trends.

So what should OakParkApartments.com take pictures of….. because we just didn’t want to be random.

OPA thought long and hard and this is what we came up with:

Well, for one, Oak Park has many, vibrant social activities that happen right in our own backyard.  Great restaurants, events like Oaktoberfest, concerts, theater, farmer’s markets, art’s district, shopping and more… makes living in Oak Park lively, downright fun and definitely picture-worthy.

Architecture, well that’s another no-brainer, with Frank Lloyd Wright having his home and studio right in the heart of Oak Park there is no doubt there are many amazing properties with details that don’t go into most buildings that are constructed now-a-days which will make for some unique shots.

History, Oak Park has that too and is proud of it’s heritage.  From the Village’s original settlers, the Kettlestrings to other notables like Ernest Heminway, Frank Lloyd Wright and current day celebs (yep, Betty White was born in Oak Park) there is a lot of history within Oak Park’s borders so we’ll try to somehow capture that on film.

Chicago.  Oak Park is only 10 miles from the heart of downtown Chicago and is easily accessible by the blue & green “L” lines, the Metra and the Eisenhower Expressway.  So more fun, excitement, museums, sports teams, concerts, food & festivals just a hop, skip and a jump away from Oak Park makes keeping photo tabs on Chicago happenings a must.

Who doesn’t like a renovation project?  Well, with over 40 plus vintage properties OPA is working hard to not only maintain our buildings but to make sure we are sensitive to the need to preserve what is so special about these multi-unit walk ups along with making sure tenants have the 21st century amenities that make for comfortable, modern day living. Hey, we all love a before and after pic, right?

#GiveBack – in other words OPA will be sharing pics of how we, as a company, are trying to make a difference in our community and hopefully that will build awareness of all the great causes that are right under our Oak Park noses.

So give us a follow on Instagram and see Oak Park through our lens!

Posted in 2014, Fun, History of Oak Park, Oak Park Charities, Oak Park Happenings, OakParkApartments.com, Village of Oak Park, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catholic Charities & WSSRA Receive OPA Support

Giving back to the community is an important part of the mission of OakParkApartments.com.  As a company that has been a fixture in Oak Park for over 28 years, owners Bill and Bob Planek feel strongly about making Oak Park a better place to call home and not just for our tenants.

In September, OPA will have sponsored and participated in both the Catholic Charities’ Brighter Futures Golf Outing and the Makin’ Tracks 5K Run/Walk. Over the last three years not only has OPA been a sponsor but we have also sponsored tenants who wanted to participate in the Makin’ Tracks 5k. This year a record 27 OPA participants will be at this Saturdays race.

So, since we really don’t want to make this about us we’ll let you know a little about the charities and the amazing things they do to help others.

The Brighter Futures Golf Outing is an annual event that benefits the Catholic Charities New Hope Housing Program in western Cook County. This program works to help transition families from “homelessness to self-sufficiency through subsidized rent, intensive case management, counseling, job development, personal financial education, and networking with local school districts to help children stay in school, all with remarkable success. Over 80% of families stay employed, in school and in stable housing. Catholic Charities’ New Hope Housing Program dramatically changes families’ lives, providing true “hope” for their futures.”

The Makin’ Tracks 5k proceeds go to supporting the West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) which offers a wide array of recreational programs at over 75 community locations at a cost that is similar to those charged for regular park district programing. Due to participants varying abilities special services and transportation needs are an important aspect to WSSRA programming. Since the WSSRA does not want their programming costs to prohibit anyone from participating they have set up scholarship funding for those in need.  This event supports those scholarships.

So, in the inspirational words of George Bernard Shaw:

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.

Posted in 2014, Oak Park Charities, Oak Park Happenings, OakParkApartments.com, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hot Weather Tips 4 Your Pet

In honor of #HappyNationalDogDay, pet friendly OakParkApartments.com wanted to ensure that our furry friends are fairing well now that we have finally hit the dog days of summer.

Here are some tips that will help your dog (and cat) stay cool during the heat.

  • Take your pet for walks in the early morning or late evening hours – avoid the heat of the day.
  • Keep your air-conditioning unit on.  If you are trying to conserve energy/money then turn the temperature to a moderate 76 -78 degrees.
  • Circulate the air with fans.  Turn on a ceiling or table fan to help cool your pet.
  • Close all shades/curtains on all windows that are not north facing to prevent the sun from heating up your apartment.
  • Keep plenty of cold water available for your pet.  A great trick is to cut the top of a large water bottle, freeze water overnight then pop the jumbo ice cube out in your pets bowl in the morning for cool drinking water all day long.
  • Purchase a kool collar for your pet. Fill with ice for outdoor use or freeze the Kool tube for inside, then place the collar around your pets neck to cool their body temperature during the heat of the day.
  • Shedding is a furry pets natural defenses in hot weather.  Make sure your pet is well groomed and also brush your pet regularly.
  • Never, never leave your pet inside a car in the summer.
  • Lastly, since Oak Park is so doggone close to Chicago you can always take your pet to the Montrose dog beach to cool off.

What to look for if your pet is overheated:

  • Excessive panting and/or drooling.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate.
  • Glazed eyes.
  • Weakness, stupor or even collapse.

More serious symptoms include:

  • Seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Deep red or purple tongue.
  • Elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

If any of the above extreme symptoms occur take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, OakParkApartments.com, Pet Friendly Oak Park Apartments | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tenant Responsibilities

Renting an apartment comes with more responsibilities then just the basics of paying your rent, security deposit and utilities once you sign your lease.

Being a responsible tenant means:

  1. Keeping your apartment clean and safe from hazards.
  2. Disposing of your garbage in a proper and timely way.
  3. Changing burnt out lightbulbs in your apartment – common areas are OPA’s responsibility but the bulbs that are in your apartment are yours.
  4. Changing the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors – OPA checks the batteries as well as the device at the beginning of your lease but when that smoke detector gives off that annoying beep in the middle of the night letting you know the batteries are low the responsibility becomes yours.
  5. Using the electrical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and any and other building systems, including elevators properly.  (For example, do not overload electrical outlets.)
  6. Fixing things that you break.
  7. Not damaging or defacing your apartment, or allowing anyone else to do so. (if any of the above happens refer to #6.)
  8. Notifying the landlord immediately when repairs are needed, even if you are responsible.

OakParkApartments.com strives for the best tenant/landlord relations so if you have further question please refer to our tenant handbook.  Still unsure?  Give us a call during regular business hours (9-5) at 708-622-9246 and we’d be happy to help.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Maintenance, OakParkApartments.com, lease | Tagged | Leave a comment

Renter’s Insurance 101

Unless you are rolling in the $$ and can afford to replace everything you own in the case of theft, fire or some other unpredictable disaster, you need renter’s insurance.

Sure, OakParkApartments.com has insurance, but our insurance will only cover the structural damage to the building or specific apartment.  For example, if there is a fire in your kitchen OPA’s insurance will replace damaged appliances and cabinets but not cover your dishes, glasses or cookware.

Renter’s insurance covers the loss of personal items due to fire, smoke and water damage, theft, and vandalism. Liability coverage is also offered by some insurance agencies and will cover costs if a visitor were to injure themselves in your home.

Renter’s insurance will cost anywhere from $12 to $25 a month for a policy that provides at the minimum, $20,000 worth of coverage.  You may pay more or less depending on your neighborhood, the level of coverage you choose and the amount of your deductible.   Shop around for quotes from several insurance agencies in order to get the best deal.

You may not think that your possessions are that valuable, but just take a minute to tally up the cost of your furniture, t.v., laptop and clothing – the money needed to replace these items adds up fast.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Money, OakParkApartments.com, Renting an apartment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Off The Wall Project One To Ponder

OakParkApartments.com is once again amazed and appreciative of an extraordinary mosaic treasure that the teenage artists employed by the Oak Park Area Arts Council dreamed up for OPA’s 618 – 632 Austin building.

This is the third year that the “Off the Wall” summer teen art apprentice program has used an OPA building as the brick and mortar “canvas” for one of their annual summer mosaic masterpieces.

OPA has been continually impressed by the concepts and craftsmanship that these teen artists produce. These 16 to 19 year olds, and the adult master artist that acts as their mentor, take this mosaic project from A – Z by working on the planning, design, purchasing and actual installation of two mosaic works of art.

The “Off the Wall” project begin back in 2004, when Camille Wilson-White, the executive director of the Oak Park Area Arts Council became “inspired to create” a program that was patterned after the concept of Chicago based Gallery 37, a Chicago organization that employs city teens to work on public art murals.

In order to be involved in this project teens must complete an application that showcases their talents and interest in the visual arts.  The Oak Park Area Arts Council then selects the teens to do the work.

But, best yet for these teens is that this is a paying gig. For approximately 16 hours a week, over the course of 6 weeks during the summer these teen artists are busy creating a complex work of art that will provide beauty and enjoyment to all who pass through our lovely Village of Oak Park while also earning some $$.

This year’s project is titled “Brainstorm” and is sure to grab your attention and make you ponder when entering or exiting the 290 expressway on Austin Boulevard.

Posted in 2014, Design, Oak Park Happenings, OakParkApartments.com, The Oak Park Area Arts Council, Village of Oak Park | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Renewal “Cents”

It’s time to renew your lease and your rent has gone up.  Is it time to move?

Hold tight.  Whether you hire a mover or do the work your self there is a very real cost to moving.  Instead of immediately starting the apartment hunt it makes “cents” to put pencil to paper and figure out the real cost of finding a new apartment.

First, take the amount your rent has increased and multiply that number by twelve.  So, for example, if your rent went up $35 you will need to budget an extra $420 for the year to cover the new cost of your place.

Next, take the time to search the apartments in the area you wish to live.  Determine if rents are more, less or about the same as your rental increase for a similar apartment.

Research the cost of moving.  Even if you do this yourself, unless you are truly a minimalist, you have stuff that will need to be moved.  The cost to rent a U-Haul and move yourself (with the help of friends, that is) will range from $20 on up plus a per mile surcharge. In addition there are optional insurance costs to cover any damage or theft to the truck or your belongings that you may wish to purchase.  The supplies; dollies, moving blankets, boxes, tape…. that will all be extra as well.  If you decide to hire movers the starting cost can range from $150 on up for 2 movers and 2 hours of moving time.  Each additional hour can add another $75 to $100 to your costs and that does not include the basic supplies, like boxes and tape.

Along with actual moving costs are the costs associated with renting a new place:

  • Application fee
  • Security deposit
  • Pet security deposit
  • First month rent

Finally, factor in the amount of time it will take you to find a new apartment, move (make sure to include any time you may need to take off of work) and the emotional toll that the move may take.  Once you calculate all of the above, then you can determine if the cost of your rent increase outweighs the cost of a move.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Money, Moving, lease | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Vacation Security Tips

July is upon us and for many the time for that long awaited vacation is here.  Your bags are packed and you are ready for that much needed R & R!

OakParkApartments.com hopes you have a great time on your trip but we would also like to make sure that when you return your apartment is just the way you left it. By following these few simple tips you can make your vacation more enjoyable by knowing your apartment is secure and protected while you are away.

Part of the fun and anticipation of taking a vacation is discussing your trip.  And while it is natural to want to share the details of the fun you have planned you should remember to share that information with only a few select, trusted friends and/or family.  Being aware of who’s around when discussing your trip out in public makes sense too.

Robbers are opportunists – if you post about your being on vacation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you may come home to an apartment that has been broken into.  So wait until your trip is over and then share all your exciting adventures on social media.

Before you go on vacation make sure to hide valuables. There are safes designed to look like everyday items and chances are a thief will not be looking through your pantry and suspect that the can of diet Coke is your safe.  These diversion safes are a good investment for everyday as well.

A lock box is another good option to keep important items safe – just make sure to hide it in an unsuspecting place when you leave – the bottom of your dirty laundry perhaps?

Smaller, valuable electronics should also find hiding places – just remember where you hid them!

Put lights, t.v. and/or a radio on a timer to give the impression that someone is at home at various times of the day.

Set the telephone to ring a maximum of three or four times before the answering machine picks up. A telephone ringing throughout the day and night can indicate that your apartment is empty. Also, do not leave a message stating that you are away on vacation! Some new phone systems will allow you to forward land line calls to your cell phone – you don’t have to answer but you can be aware of who is trying to get a hold of you and call back if needed.

Put a hold on mail and papers – this can be done easily online and can be done from three up to 30 days.

Ask a trusted neighbor, family member or friend to periodically check on your apartment while you are away.  Leave your contact information with them in case they need to reach you.

And though this may seem obvious don’t forget to close and lock all windows and doors before you go.  Don’t make it easy for a burglar to do his job!

Posted in 2014, OakParkApartments.com, Safety | Tagged | Leave a comment

Balcony Bliss

No yard?  No problem! Balcony gardens can be the exact summer oasis renters are yearning for.  Follow these tips to help create an outdoor sanctuary to enjoy and entertain in.

What’s Your Exposure?

When buying and growing plants it is best to consider what exposure your balcony faces – North, South, East or West. What kind of sunlight/shade does your balcony get? How many hours of sun, if any, does it get a day? How exposed is your balcony to the elements? Once you answer these simple questions you will be able to narrow down the selection of plants that will best thrive on your balcony.

Annuals, Vegetables, and Herbs – Oh My!

Just as if you were planting a garden in a backyard, you’ll will want to consider what type of plants you want in your garden.  Do you love to cook?  If so, you may want to include a mix of vegetables in your containers.  Is mixing a great cocktail more your thing?  Then maybe a pot with the herb mint, is a must.  Just like to relax and read a good book? Maybe you should plant annuals (flowers that will only last through one planting season) to bring color and fragrance to your balcony.  Either way, do a little research and know what you want from your outdoor haven.

Containers and Dirt

Choosing your containers will also take a bit of know how.  Of course you want something that appeals to you but you also need to take into account what the containers are made of and how/if they will drain. Ceramic, terra cotta, plastic, fiberglass or foam pots are all options with pros and cons.  Ceramic and terra cotta provide style and color but can be more expensive as well as the most fragile.  Foam planters offer more design and color options but aren’t as durable.  Fiberglass is durable, not as cheap as plastic but provides more design options to choose from.  Or just get creative with what you have lying around your apartment. Make sure any pot you purchase has proper holes for drainage which helps to guard against root rot and over-watering. Remember to always use potting saucers under your pots to prevent water from running out of the drainage holes and onto your neighbor below you.  Also, vary the heights and sizes of the containers you purchase – it will provide more visual interest.  Consider adding hanging plants and or window boxes to your railings – with a little creativity you will soon be enveloped in your own lush retreat.

You will need to buy potting soil that’s well suited to the plants you will be growing. An all-purpose mix will be work well for most plants, but note that succulents and other specialty plants require special soil.

Furniture

Depending what you want to do in your new garden oasis will determine what furniture, if any, you need.  If you are just interested in growing herbs or flowers you could forgo the furniture. But if you enjoy a morning java or an evening cocktail your balcony might need some seating.  Whether it’s an intimate bistro table for two or a comfy chaise to lounge let your personality and the size of your balcony help you decide what furniture you’ll need.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Design | Tagged | 1 Comment

Oak Park Plans Fun on the 4th!

Friday is our countries Independence Day – the 4th of July – and (happily) a day off for many of our tenants.  And Oak Park is ready to celebrate!

To start the day off you will not want to miss Oak Park’s 10th annual 4th of July parade which kicks off at 10am at Longfellow Park and travels North on Ridgeland to Augusta, ending at Whittier School. Bring blankets/chairs and find a spot along the parade route to take in the Independence Day excitement.

Oak Park’s parade is filled with a diverse variety of groups and organizations: from athletic teams, musical groups/bands, service organizations, local businesses, politicians, police and fire departments (with sirens blasting so cover your ears) and always the crowd pleaser, OakParkApartments.com’s commercial tenant and personal favorite, Derby Light (a local roller skating fitness group).  Derby Lite had the best float we’ve ever seen (and that’s all we are going to say because we don’t want to ruin the surprise) plus their skating skills are amazing.

Make sure to finish off your day in true patriotic style by heading over to the Community Bank sponsored fireworks show at dusk, presented by the Great American Light Show Association (GALA), Oak Park’s own local non-profit group that volunteers their time and skills to organize the annual Independence Day fireworks display for the enjoyment of many.

The show takes place at OPRF’s Huskie stadium.  There are around 25,000 spectators that attend the show, according to Community Bank’s attendance records, but there is plenty of seating in the stadium or just pull your car into the top floor of the parking garage for a great view of the show.

During the GALA fireworks show there will be over 1,381 firework shells launched, including 756 firework shells for the grand finale – some climbing as high as 280 feet into the air!  This year’s fireworks features come with names like Gold Shimmering Chrysanthemum, Blue Tiger Tail, Dragon Egg and Twilight Twinkler – so get ready to be amazed by the show that GALA and Community Bank have in store for us!

The show is free but, if we remember correctly, the Bank does pass a bucket asking for donations to help support the event – so bring a couple of bucks to make sure the show continues for years to come!

Posted in 2014, Fun, Holiday, Oak Park Happenings, Oak Park Police, OakParkApartments.com, Organization, Village of Oak Park | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment