There are good things, mainly small things, happening on Madison Street in Oak Park. The wrecking ball is coming for the old District 97 HQ and the adjacent Robinson's Ribs. Handsome new townhouses will follow. Small retailers like Sherwin Williams have moved in. The hideous D97 warehouse has new owners.
But the key to redeveloping Madison Street rests from Oak Park Avenue to approximately Wesley and hinges on the long vacant and long village-owned parcel at the northeast corner of the intersection. Over the past two years, an ambitious multi-use development project has been negotiated by the village with a viable private developer, Jupiter Realty.
The proposal put forward by Jupiter, and chosen as its preferred development by village trustees, extends beyond parcels owned by the village and includes a good number of apartments, a large retail component and parking.
The snag, as this project officially reaches on-hold status, is that large retail is hard to find at this moment. From the start, the target has been to add a large grocer to the corner. As Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb told the Journal last week, the two main candidates — Mariano's and Jewel — have now officially turned down the opportunity. Not a surprise in this moment.
Some great option could still be in the wings, says Abu-Taleb, but this pause makes it a good time to update the public and gather input from the four new trustees elected last April.
We trust that all Oak Parkers see the need and the opportunity that the long hollowed-out Madison Street offers. But a good discussion about TIF options and essential infrastructure investment is well timed.
Answer Book 2018
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