Every May, the Oak Park Arts District optimistically stages its What’s Blooming on Harrison street fest. And for as long as this determined band of artists and entrepreneurs has been staging the fest, the real answer has been that not much has been blooming in the arts district.
Core commercial buildings, empty for decades, increasingly derelict, sat at the Harrison and Lombard core of the district. There was more decay than new growth on this lovely street surrounded by a strong residential community, two stellar public schools and fantastic public transit.
What’s Blooming returns this Saturday. And we are thrilled to note that in the Spring of 2018 there is much to celebrate and anticipate on Harrison Street as its hollow core is being rejuvenated, demolished, remade in a model fully consistent with its arts colony milieu.
On the north side of Harrison, a rickety commercial building has been leveled and new townhomes that combine work and living space for artists are being inserted. The handsome end pieces of that old building are being salvaged and renovated. Also on that side of the street, the forlorn LaMajada space has been fully remade — and turned a stunning shade of green — by two local developers who have thoughtfully curated a new batch of stores and restaurants.
Due to open just in time for Saturday’s celebration is District Kitchen and Tap, 220 Harrison. This is the latest spot opened by Patrick O’Brien who launched Scratch in Forest Park, expanded to Scratch on Lake, and is now bringing a variation on the theme to Harrison.
Other new eateries and fresh uses of empty spaces are coming soon. Meanwhile, the stalwarts of the arts community work to mount Saturday’s celebration of the welcoming and truly blooming Oak Park Arts District.