A major development in Downtown Oak Park is, at long last, going to take a step ahead. On Monday, the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation will present a negotiated agreement to the village board for developers to build on the village-owned Colt site on Lake Street.
Monday night was the final night for La Majada, a pioneering restaurant on Harrison Street, which once had the easy panache of being Oak Park's destination spot. The Haggar family — Mom, sister, brothers — were the face of the place, welcoming, sometimes gruff, always present.
At least a few people around town remember that the Oak Park village board set a very firm deadline of Feb. 28 for proof positive that developers — some developer, any developers — had obtained financing to build the tall, shiny high-rise at Lake and Forest.
Looking at the crowd the past two Saturdays at the main library one would have to conclude that Oak Park's jaw-dropping, unparalleled efforts 45 years ago to stop the rapid racial change that had gripped and unhinged Austin — and instead somehow fostered actual racial integration — was nothing more than a lesson in nostalgia.
On the final day, in what I had to hope was the final mailing, the kinder, gentler Blake Sercye returned to my mailbox. At least on the front and back of the four-page mailer it was the smiling young man with the good story — raised in Austin by a single mom, still in Austin, Fenwick, Princeton, U of C law school, pro bono legal work, progressive agenda for the county board.
The Oak Park Residence Corporation has hired a new executive director with a background in municipal government and investment banking. Most recently she has worked for a non-profit housing initiative in Chicago.
Something got off track recently with plans for Noon Whistle, a microbrewery, to sign a lease and open on Chicago Avenue near Austin Boulevard. The owners of the building — these days an indoor athletic facility but back a decade the mustiest auto repair shop you could imagine — said they worried about being left with a built-out and unusable brewing facility if the microbrew concept didn't fly.
John Hedges, former Oak Park village trustee, former park district executive director, one-time acting village manager and, a year ago, an unsuccessful candidate for Oak Park village president, returned to public life Monday with his appointment as the interim executive director of the newly reshaped Oak Park Economic Development Corporation.