It took well over a decade to pull off, but Oak Park finally owns the final parcel of the block of Madison Street between Oak Park Avenue and Euclid.
With the unanimous approval of Oak Park’s village board, the government paid $1.3 million to the landlord for the long-established and reportedly quite successful Car-X repair shop, which has been sitting like a muffler oasis on the otherwise empty block for years. Village government, back in the days when developers could seldom be lured to this town, accumulated commercial property in a willy-nilly and overpaying fashion.
But while it readily bought up an old ARCO gas station and an assemblage of ramshackle old furniture and auto showrooms further west on the block, Car-X had been a holdout. With a major commercial and residential project tentatively planned for both the north and south sides of that key intersection, controlling the Car-X site became more important. Jupiter Realty, the preferred developer of the hoped-for, but not locked-in project, set out to make the purchase and it negotiated a fair to high-side price for a parcel clearly in demand for a larger project.
Still awaiting commitment from a major retail tenant, which will make this project viable, the village sought to finally control the full block by stepping in and taking over the developer’s deal.
Even as it has aggressively sold off other key village-owned parcels in and around the downtown to developers, Oak Park has rightly sought to jump start a comeback for long-neglected Madison Street at its intersection with Oak Park Avenue. This is the right strategy; Jupiter has every chance of being the right developer and the village is now in a better place to facilitate this project.