I saw the TV and print coverage including the Wednesday Journal [web] piece "Full story not being told on Lane Bryant." I'd like to offer my recollection and attempt to correct in part Mr. Pope's depiction of the previous village board's discussion regarding RSC and potential retail tenants.
I recall that the village board sought consensus regarding the development at 1120 Lake St. which included (if memory serves) three or four ground and/or street-level retail spaces.
I recall that Mr. Pope indicated then and appears to be reiterating now that Lane Bryant was not a retail enterprise he thought an appropriate fit for Downtown Oak Park.
Former Trustee Diane Carpenter attempted to assure Trustee Pope that Lane Bryant was a quality tenant and did fill a clothing niche for shoppers. Unfortunately, Trustee Pope was unconvinced. However, in order to arrive at a reasonable compromise?#34;and appease Trustee Pope, who also indicated that he might oppose moving forward with the retail agreement if Lane Bryant was considered?#34;the village board created a preferred list of retail tenants (sans Lane Bryant) and indicated to RSC that should it desire to lease to a potential tenant not on the preferred list, RSC must return to the village board for approval.
It appears that RSC returned to the village board for approval to lease to a tenant not on the preferred list as previously agreed to.
It should be apparent that clothing retailers and other providers and merchants are vital to Downtown Oak Park and provide multiple shopping opportunities and a synergy with other retailers on the street. If anything, Dress Barn and Lane Bryant are perfectly compatible and have the capacity to draw shoppers from the surrounding communties.
When you look at Oak Park's Harlem and Lake and Avenue shopping centers, you expect to see a variety of retailers offering their products and services. Retailers expect competition and generally will tell you that they thrive on competition?#34;it makes for good business. To discount Lane Bryant or any other successful clothier just doesn't make good business sense.
Additionally, offering Lane Bryant and RSC the services of DTOP and OPDC ostensibly to identify locations other than Downtown Oak Park misses the point. To offer the services of Downtown Oak Park to identify areas other than Downtown Oak Park seems misplaced.
The free market can generally determine whether or not a clothier or any other enterprise will do well. In this case, the retailer has identified downtown Oak Park as the place to be because Lane Bryant recognizes the desirability of the Oak Park area market.
Finally, the development agreement is between the Village of Oak Park and RSC. To engage in a discussion about other locations in Oak Park with Lane Bryant to the exclusion of RSC seems misguided.
It just seems that litigation is the unintended consequence of trying to restrict the free market.