The news this week that the space housing the new Target store in downtown Oak Park is already up for sale is unadulterated good news for this village. Paired with the rapid resale of the Vantage high-rise building at Lake and Forest, it demonstrates that the more intensive development in our downtown is creating genuine market value.
Let’s be clear as this can be confusing. The new Target is off to a strong start in sales. It is not leaving its space. It has a long-term lease on the space. Also, only the retail portions of The Emerson project – Target, Firecakes Donuts, The Groomery and Wheel & Sprocket – are listed for sale.
Now with the economy percolating and the real estate market strong, it is a good time for developers to cash in. That’s what developers do. They assemble money to put at risk in a development. When the time is right they sell at a profit, pay off their backers and look for the next opportunity.
What are the complex emotions that make this all unpalatable to some Oak Parkers? Do we have abandonment issues thinking that a developer is our new best friend forever? Are we all so left of center that we resent developers making a healthy profit?
Truth is, after decades of undervaluing the economic strength of Oak Park for either retail/commercial or new residential, we are proving that Oak Park is an unexpected powerhouse. Developers seek us out. And when those developers want to cash out they now have options for institutional money looking for a secure place to be parked.