The village has begun razing the 1145 Westgate building, the one directly south of the Colt building, which will be demolished next. Originally the village had big plans for that site.

Seymour Taxman hoped to develop it, but he and village hall had a falling out, so he pulled out in a huff, leaving the village holding the bag (and the buildings).

After various consultants weighed in (chiefly Crandall Arambula), the village opened the site up to competitive bids, which produced two somewhat grandiose project proposals, both of which seemed to hinge on Oak Park taxpayers paying for most of it.

So that didn’t fly, but the buildings are coming down anyway. In their place will be a surface parking lot, which will be popular. Perhaps very popular.

It will also open up that densely packed section of downtown considerably. That could be very popular as well.

And judging from the dire economic reports we’re getting on a daily basis, it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to develop that site for ? insert your guess: Years? Decades? Ever?

Maybe the village (and the rest of us) should start rethinking that property, get creative, innovative, think out of the box. Nobody would complain about a permanent parking lot, but what else could go in there? Crandall Arambula called for an open plaza/people-gathering space somewhere in the downtown area. They also called for a north-south “New Street” to run through there.

What about landscaping? A fountain? A performing arts center with a parking garage? Something that might attract widespread media attention?

Seems to me this is an opportunity to do something really different. Any ideas? Let’s hear them. Maybe village hall is in a listening mood.

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