“Calling to complain about that article you wrote,” the muffled voice, intentionally obscured for comic effect, stated in a recent phone message left at the offices of Wednesday Journal. “I can’t believe you said that stuff in the article. Oh, my god!”
“Timothy! I didn’t disguise my voice well enough. Happy Friday! I just thought I’d say, ‘Hello.’ King on the cell.”
It’s the kind of good-spirited razzing you can expect from one of Oak Park and Forest Park’s most prominent figures – commercial real estate broker David King, a Forest Park resident and founder of the Oak Park-based David King & Associates.
Ever the showman, had King been born 100 years earlier, he might have been a circus ringmaster.
“Happy [pick your day of the week]!” is his signature phrase, and frequently consoles his company with, “It’s all good.”
This month, he and his team are celebrating 25 years in business.
Though many in town might not know King personally – he’s the one with the blue-and-white DK signs in storefronts windows throughout Oak Park and Forest Park – the impact of his company’s work can be felt throughout municipalities in the western suburbs.
Some of the more recent businesses he’s placed in the commercial corridors of the area include Oak Park’s Courageous Bakery, Wild Onion Tied House, Saigon Pho and Poke Burrito, and Forest Park’s Takara and Axcan Mexican Grill. And the list goes on and on.
Empty storefronts are a lot less frequent than in the 1980s and ’90s, King said last year, while testifying to the Oak Park Board of Trustees in support of the Albion high-rise building at the corner of Lake Street and Forest Avenue.
King told the village board he’s never seen a more commercially vibrant Oak Park.
“The last year and a half has been mind-boggling,” he told the board about the state of new businesses opening in the village.
“I’m asking you to keep the demand going,” he told the board, which ultimately approved the proposal.
While King is, perhaps, most well-known for his commercial real estate work, he’s also been a tireless advocate for Triton College, where he served 14 years as president of Triton College Foundation.
The college honored him in 2012 for his tireless efforts on the board raising some $3.5 million and awarding 1,200 scholarships, according to a Wednesday Journal story.
“I’ve rarely seen a more optimistic person in my whole life and career,” West Cook Municipal Conference Executive Director Rich Pellegrino said of King. “I’ve never seen him characterize a challenge in an insurmountable way. He’ll just set forth the problems that need to be solved and start analyzing and making solutions.”
He’s lauded roundly by others in the business community, most recently by Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, who called King “an advocate for our community.”
“He’s a big believer in the Oak Park market,” Abu-Taleb said in a telephone interview. “And he has been instrumental in attracting new businesses to set up shop in our town and helping those who have been here for a while to maintain their contribution.”
Like Pellegrino, Abu-Taleb called him an optimist for Oak Park.
“And he shows that in the way he executes his transactions and the way he deals with people,” Abu-Taleb said. “Give me more Davids, and I’ll give you more economic development.”
In Forest Park, Laurie Kokenes, president of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, called King, who served for years on the chamber board, a “straight shooter.”
“I’ve been in the chamber job for 25 years, and I tell new members that even in the day of social media, you have to get out there and build relationships – David is really good at that,” she said. “He attends events and works the room. He’s not asking them for anything, he just gets to know the people. He does what it takes to be successful.”
Viktor Schrader, economic development director for the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, said in an email that King is relentless in his work.
“While people that have known David longer than I have tell me that he has ‘settled down,’ he still goes a mile a minute, chasing every lead and trying to close every deal,” Schrader said.
“You know he is having a particularly crazed day when his patented ‘Happy [inset day]’ greeting is more like ‘Happy … [expletive] what day is it?’
“Kidding aside, David has worked with many of the businesses Oak Park knows and loves and he is as passionate about this community as anyone I’ve met,” Schrader said.
King and his staff are celebrating their quarter century in business Thursday, June 28, in Oak Park.