The North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC) thanks Wednesday Journal for its support of our efforts to fight blight and revitalize North Avenue, expressed most recently in your editorial, “So long, EZ Pawn” [Viewpoints, Sept. 23].
As you noted, pawnshops are indeed “retail death” because “quality retail wants no part of adjacency.” That is why, like you, we could not be happier that EZ Pawn is closing on Oct. 18.
We generally agree with your analysis of the problems plaguing North Avenue and certainly concur that this is a good time to “refocus shared energies on Oak Park’s north border” and address these issues.
We’d also like to point out that it’s a good time to focus on North Avenue for positive reasons. It has very strong traffic volume. Once effective traffic calming measures are in place, businesses will be able to benefit more from the “billboard effect” of the hundreds of passing cars. And the stretch from Austin to Harlem boasts attractive density and demographics as well. Once North Avenue becomes more pedestrian-friendly and rid of blight, many more local residents will patronize its businesses.
It was largely due to these advantages that Mariano’s was interested in locating at North and Harlem in the first place. Although the original deal is evidently dead, Alderman Chris Taliaferro told attendees at his August community meeting that a new one is possible with the sale of the large parking lot just east of Sears on North Avenue. He said in his September meeting that the city is pursuing another location in his ward, but a deal on North Avenue has not been ruled out.
We hope the alderman and the city pursue the North Avenue location since there is no other commercial corridor in the 29th Ward with as much revitalization potential. We also hope the village of Oak Park and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation intensify their focus on North Avenue because of its advantages and assets. And we look forward to working with all interested parties to address the problems that prevent North Avenue from capitalizing on its advantages.
Chair, North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC)
Oak Park resident