I recently moved back to Oak Park from Boston after a five-year absence. To my dismay, downtown Oak Park has undergone an uneven attempt at rebuilding its retail community. The first thing I noticed were many empty storefronts, as well as new construction buildings with all the architectural charm of an office park near O’Hare. And now, a proposed Target in the new Colt superblock? Why not just tear down Unity Temple and put up a Wal-Mart? What happened to funky, arty, interesting, architecturally diverse Oak Park? I guess it’s moved to downtown Forest Park, thanks to lower rents, fees, red tape and, presumably, taxes. Sigh.
I would love to see an urban Target store here in Oak Park. But why not on Madison?
A good design that would work is to model it after Water Tower Place. Underground parking with stores on top makes it shopper-friendly. I never thought of Oak Park as a place wanting to attract thrift stores selling junk to people with limited incomes but times change and living in a town with very high taxes requires lowering one’s expectations on goods. So dig deep and build tall.
I would hope that accessibility would be an upmost feature of any proposal-a spot for paratransit delivery of riders, accessible parking spaces, accessible washrooms and elevators so wheelchairs and walkers would be able to get to other floors.
Executive director, West Suburban Access News Association
Oh good, more retail space developed that will be empty in one or two years after it’s built. Why do we insist on adding more stores when we don’t even have any retailers to fill the spaces we have now? Let’s work on getting the current spaces filled before adding more!