I was saddened to hear of the closing of La Majada. We moved nearby almost 28 years ago and La Majada was one of the few currently existing businesses that pre-dated our arrival. Hector and Jesse were always very warm and gracious. We would ask about their families and they asked about ours. They were always willing to tweak a recipe for us. The waitstaff was friendly and professional. We will miss them.
Along with the future availability of all of the properties currently in foreclosure, this could be an opportunity for Harrison Street.
I have a request of the village president, the village board and the economic development commission. Quit ignoring the neighborhood business districts. There is, and should be, economic life beyond Lake Street. I have several suggestions:
First, is the establishment of an entrepreneurial bank. Funding could be a mixture of private and public. The goal would be to provide assistance to potential businesses to be located in targeted business areas for start-up and rental assistance. In addition, existing businesses could be offered minimal-interest loans for repairs or improvements. The result would be an improved tax base.
Second, make Oak Park the home of the small entrepreneur. Do not just send out development requests to the big guys for big projects. There are potential small business entrepreneurs in Oak Park and nearby areas. Put out requests for them and prove that Oak Park is open for business.
Third, use the available Harrison Street properties, as small business incubators. These are small spaces with lower rents than other areas, perfect for business start-ups. I understand the limitations facing businesses in areas such as Harrison Street. The entrepreneurial bank could provide assistance. Existing area business owners could provide marketing and administrative assistance.
To the president and the board: You want to be pro-business? Prove it. Enough with the heated sidewalks and big buildings and perks for the big developers. Provide a business-friendly environment for small businesses to use existing buildings and see what happens.