OK, take out your Sharpie and extend the reach of your Roosevelt Road blight map by one block to the west. Previously we have designated Roosevelt Road from Austin to Harvey as ignored, invisible, unappreciated, derelict … well, blighted.
Now with the news that Fair Share Finer Foods will close before this short month ends, we are proactively extending the zone of worry all the way to Highland Avenue. Losing a 44-year-old business is hard, but it is harder when the hit comes on a commercial strip that has certainly not been on the radar at village hall at least since a middling-at-best streetscaping project was wrapped up a decade ago. Once again, brick pavers have not proven capable of staving off decay when the underlying businesses fail, the structures are obsolete, and the immediate neighbor is Cicero.
This stretch of Roosevelt has been on our radar lately as we have followed the zoning process for the proposed Taco Bell at the corner of Austin and Roosevelt. If approved, and it looks as if it is going that way, the inventor of the Fourth Meal and blue beverages, will replace a bank branch and drive-up that ran out of out-of-state banks interested in operating it.
We’re opposed to the Taco Bell on the theory that a pre-distressed corner attached to a wonderful residential neighborhood deserves better than squawking drive-thru speakers at all hours and a new source of litter.
Turning back to Fair Share, run for all these years by the gracious and welcoming Salamone family, it is unlikely that a new grocer will take the space. Independent, family-owned grocery stores struggle in an era of Costco and Amazon delivery service.
So spare us a dollar store. And let’s get down to some serious focus on what is working further west on Roosevelt where private schools and multifamily residential have taken hold. We don’t suggest that luring such uses further east will be simple. There is not another Turano Bakery headquarters to build. We understand that the market will ultimately dictate. We also understand that this four-block strip is an urgent spiral that requires attention and creativity, and, potentially, village government investment.