Many years ago, downtown Oak Park was a “destination” shopping location. Action needs to be taken to restore downtown to its former status. Currently, the village is analyzing selective portions of downtown, such as the Colt building. This type of evaluation is out of context and very limited in scope. A comprehensive plan is what is needed to revitalize the downtown area to attract local and regional consumers. (Hasn’t this already been done?)
Perhaps we should look at some successful retail areas. Many communities across the country have thriving new shopping areas that look like an “old fashioned downtown.” Some of the components of these retail developments are charming facades with historical character, broad pedestrian areas resembling streets or a town square that encourage circulation and relaxation, interior spaces that can be easily built out to meet the needs of retailers, restaurants, attractive landscaping and hardscaping with inviting features such as seating and water elements, and most important, plentiful parking just only a short walk away.
Time marches on and so do consumers. Currently they are shopping in Forest Park, La Grange and Oak Brook. Let’s develop a comprehensive plan and a marketing strategy to bring them back to downtown Oak Park.