Two institutions that defined North Avenue in Oak Park and Galewood across the decades of the last century and which have also defined the slow fade of the street in the current century are happily biting the dust.
Sears, astonishingly once America’s pre-eminent main street retailer, dominated the bustling intersection of Harlem and North. The store has long been shuttered. But a redevelopment plan for the acreage saved the bones of the main building for a new mixed-use project. Now new owners will stick with the apartment and retail mix but are leveling the site.
East on North Avenue, the headquarters of the once iconic St. Paul Federal Savings and Loan has been an oversized branch bank for the successors to St. Paul. Now that building is being gutted and will be repurposed as a mixed use project with both retail and apartments.
If ever a commercial strip needed to be rethought from the ground up, it is North Avenue. Progress has been slow but has gained momentum even into the teeth of this pandemic and its economic pain.
It will be a different North Avenue. Long overdue.