By John Hubbuch
I walk Madison between Oak Park Avenue and Marion on my semi-regular trips to the YMCA. Billy's at Ridgeland and Madison just closed, but it is not part of my monitoring resposibility. I wish to report on economic developments since many of you probably never get south of Lake Street. The Walgreen's store that was closed has been replaced by a beauty supply store. I guess Crate and Barrel was not interested. The fireplace store is closed for failure to pay its taxes. The little building and pumps of the closed gas station have been torn down, and now there is just a gravel lot. I assume any one wishing to develop the lot will have to deal with gas tanks and spilled oil, so I'm guessing nothing happens here until 2025. Finally, there is excavating equipment and piles of dirt across from the new Walgreen's. I suppose it might just be more parking for the Walgreen's, but I'm hoping something cool goes in there like a bank or a nail salon. We need more of those. Not.
All the other vacant lots are still vacant. The vacant Comcast Building is still there. It is perhaps slightly degraded, and fraying at the edges. In fifty years it will eventually fall down I suspect. And District 97's administration building retains its title as "Ugliest Building in Oak Park".
I feel bad for all the Madison Street merchants. Even in tough economic times money is poured into certain business districts, while others like Madison Street get very little.