Don't forget North Avenue's strengths

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The North Avenue District (T-NAD) thanks Wednesday Journal for your continuing interest in — and coverage of — the district at the northern border of Oak Park. We especially appreciate your supportive Oct. 25 op-ed ("North Avenue gets noticed").

T-NAD shares the concerns expressed in your Nov. 1 op-ed ("Short-sighted on North Ave."). We didn't review or take a position on the residential project proposed for 6600-6700 W. North Ave. in Chicago. But we are on record supporting more residential development on North Avenue. As your op-eds point out, the district's supply of office and retail space exceeds demand. It's obvious that residential development has to be part of the solution: to make better use of vacant or under-performing real estate, to provide more customers for the many great businesses, and to bring more foot traffic and life to the street. So we were encouraged when a developer wanted to build 80 apartments on North Avenue. Like you, we worry that what happened with this proposed project will discourage prospective investors.

However, we do take issue with your characterization of the district as "this sad sack of a street." It is an under-performing district with all the challenges you identified. But it also has several strengths, including numerous, fine, medical-related offices; restaurants; and other businesses. Five were nominated for OPRF Chamber of Commerce Spotlight awards, and Dr. Mary Ann Bender's Advanced Physical Medicine won for outstanding customer experience. The district's traffic volume is an asset as well as a challenge. The neighborhoods on either side of North Avenue are assets too — diverse, middle class, well-maintained and safe.

It is our mission to build on these strengths and address the district's problems. We believe the two upcoming studies will provide us with significant guidance in doing so.

Judith Alexander

Chair, The North Avenue District (T-NAD)

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