It has been the Holy Grail of economic development for 45 years. If only Oak Park could attract a new hotel it would be a defining moment; it would, somehow, prove our worth. From the days of Art Replogle founding the Oak Park Development Corporation in 1974, a hotel has been the elusive, shiny object.
Well, maybe, just maybe there’s a Holiday Inn in downtown Oak Park’s future. It ain’t the Ritz but it could be something positive for the ongoing reshaping of our downtown. Better yet, the proposal currently coming forward is for the reuse of a longtime Lake Street building, 1140 Lake St., which has not been particularly successful as upper floor office space.
The proposal is to add three floors to the front of the building and convert office space to hotel use. Even with three more stories, the project would fall within current height restrictions. It could also make use of currently underused parking in the adjacent Holley Court garage.
Still a long way to go to make this real. But we’re encouraged to see a hotel project which comes willingly to our town as opposed to the undignified and unproductive begging Oak Park has been left to in earlier efforts to lure a hotel.