I read outgoing River Forest President Frank Paris’s characterization of the Harlem-Lake-Bonnie Brae area before River Forest Town Center I and II as “deteriorating and crime ridden,” and how it was a “miracle” to get the town center built. [Proud to be a River Forest insider, Viewpoints, April 15]
Well, I lived in that area, and it was definitely not crime ridden. I bet the River Forest police are busier now on that block than they ever were in the ’80s and ’90s. Yes, it was deteriorating due to Wieboldt’s closing, but I don’t think it was a miracle to replace retail with new retail in that area. After all, it was also done across the street in Oak Park with Old Navy, Friday’s, Gap, Pier 1, etc.
Also, the building of River Forest Town Center II involved a less than 100 percent, voluntary relocation of residents of Bonnie Brae condominiums to the new William Place building. This move created significant issues for aged and moderate income people in that building, as the newer William Place building has higher assessments, property taxes, a lot more rules and, interestingly, not very impressive unit market values.
So, Mr. Paris, Town Center I was not a “miracle,” rather it was retail to new retail and was accomplished during the booming 1990s. As for Town Center II, I believe the village reached a little too far on that one.