We broke the news last week that the Shaker family is considering selling its four buildings in downtown Oak Park. Two are iconic former department stores on Lake Street, which the family successfully transitioned into a mix of retail and office space. The two more minor buildings are single-story retail spots on Marion Street. All are fully leased.
We’d note first that the Shaker family is legendary in River Forest and Oak Park. Across generations going back to Joe Shaker Sr., this family has made philanthropy central to their work. And along the way, they built a hugely successful business in the help wanted advertising field. Remember the days when the Sunday Tribune could break your front window? It was Shaker’s 80 pages of help wanted ads that provided the necessary heft.
Now for whatever complicated, and personal, reasons, the family is testing the market to see what a sale might bring. This is not a prescription for more high-rises. Tall buildings have circled downtown Oak Park from decrepit, often vacant lots. The Shaker properties, through hard work, are all viable businesses.
This is, plain and simple, an Oak Park success story.