Let's hear it for the Shakers

Opinion: Editorials

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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.

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: March 7th, 2020 11:28 AM

Robert Zeh I do not think Oak Park is a bad investment other than the taxes not seeming to equate to the value right now although it may turn to the opposite direction. Usually building and selling happens when money is very low to borrow. Right now money is very inexpensive to borrow and has been for awhile. That is when properties start to move and businesses start to expand. If you do not use common sense or projecting if the amount you borrow can handle a turn in the market then you may later find out your investment is no longer worth the money you paid for it. This is why the Shaker family is testing the market to find what it can afford and if that value is substantial or what the Shaker family would like then the buildings will sell. I do not like selling Oak Park short because it does have value

Robert Zeh  

Posted: March 7th, 2020 10:08 AM

If you want to understand why the Shakers are selling, look no further than the recent Wednesday Journal article on hi-rise apartment living.. People are selling property and renting apartments because they think Oak Park real estate is a bad investment. The smart money is selling.

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