While Galen has some good comments to make, I still side with Dan on this one [Is Oak Park a retail island? Dan Haley’s Blog, Dec. 5]. Oak Park is not the only community in the Chicago area to have enacted first-floor retail-only zoning in its commercial districts. Highland Park and Libertyville have instituted such restrictions in order to control the proliferation of non-retail uses, including banks and walk-up ATM facilities. There are many more communities that have done so across the country. These communities want to ensure that key properties remain retail so that vibrant retail clusters can develop over time. In my opinion, the Camille storefront is a key retail property along Oak Park Avenue and any other non-retail use could deaden that corner like the realty use at the end of the block.
I’m not opposed to banks in commercial districts since they can be strong anchors to any commercial district. But the Avenue district is unique in that its average storefront size and attractive commercial buildings are more conducive to attracting retail uses.
Though the adoption of the new regulation was not timed right, given the current economic situation, I still think it was a wise move, and it will pay off for The Avenue in the long run.
Submitted to WednesdayJournalOnline.com