For more than 30 years — and think for a moment about just how long that is — the largest and most visible storefront on Harrison Street has sat vacant. Multiple other storefronts in the Arts District, all under the debilitating control of the Kleronomos family, have also sat empty.

That any semblance of an arts community has survived this abuse and neglect is a testament to artists and to the vital residential community surrounding Harrison and Lombard.

Now those properties are finally, after years locked in foreclosure, under new ownership and progress is being made. Some new tenants are coming, new partnerships are being built, and investment in the derelict buildings has taken place.

Last week, Harrison Street Ventures LLC came to Oak Park’s village board seeking the required endorsement of its application to Cook County for a special property tax incentive on two properties. This not-often-used county program allows a notable short-term reduction in property taxes in an effort to spur economic development. 

If ultimately OK’d by Cook County, the property taxes paid by the 213 and 219 Harrison Street buildings will be heavily discounted over five years but likely more than is being paid currently on fully vacant properties.

The village board rightly approved the tax reduction, especially with the news that the property owners said they have a new brew pub in the offing if the tax reduction comes through.

The Kleronomos family gets full credit for its inexplicable handling of its ownership of the vast majority of buildings along Harrison Street, going back to the 1930s. But Oak Park’s village government gets more than a nod as an active enabler of the rot and the nonsense. Building codes were not enforced. Kleronomos family fantasies of creating a hotel and convention center were not rejected fully and out of hand. Pressure was never brought to bear. It took the Great Recession to wrest these buildings out of the Kleronomos clutch. 

So for the village to now play a more active role in the hoped-for comeback of this street is just long overdue attention to a commercial area too long ignored beyond some brick pavers and improved light fixtures.

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