It is not often that the entire decimated core of a business district returns to the marketplace via a single purchase and then becomes available for renewal through a single real estate broker. But that is what has now happened in the Oak Park Arts District.
This is a very auspicious moment for the determined retailers and artists along Harrison Street, for the supportive residential neighbors who have watched this area languish over three decades even as the surrounding community has thrived.
We reported back in October that a newly formed development entity — Harrison Street Ventures LLC — had wrangled six commercial buildings out of an endless foreclosure process and that its principals were making the right noises about a better future. Now that LLC has hired David King & Associates, he of the ubiquitous DK signs, to market the properties to commercial tenants. Another positive development.
The comeback of this ignored arts district will take time. The ownership and the leasing agent have much work to do to fill spaces — look for restaurants as a traffic builder. Oak Park’s village government is investing in new lighting for the area. And we await word from the Oak Park Economic Development Corp. that it has a cogent plan to add to this vital effort.