.

What Should Go Here? Empty Storefronts on Southwest Highway

Southwest Highway is brimming with possibilities but what should go there?

 

There are a lot of great businesses on Southwest Highway—, the Liquid Indian at —but they could use some company.

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Southwest Highway is brimming with possibilities, but as one of the gateways into Oak Lawn, it could stand some improvement. A lot of improvement.

Last year, the preponderance of empty storefronts along Southwest Highway One resident sent us photos of 23 empty storefronts on Southwest Highway between Ridgeland Avenue and 95th Street alone.

We went back last week and there is still a hell of a lot of empty spaces. We’re not ready to give up on Southwest Highway just yet and believe that its best years still lie ahead.

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That’s where you come in. With some vision and urban planning, we think Southwest Highway can be turned into an economic engine and tourist attraction for the Southland.

We picture restaurants, artist studios and galleries, shops and cute little boutiques. But enough of what we think—we want you tell us “what should go here?”

Put on your urban planner hat and tell us your ideas for Southwest Highway?

Sheldon Cooper August 08, 2012 at 07:28 PM
LOLOL!!!!! I thought the topic was 'What Should Go Here?' I didn't see the part that where it said that opening the business myself was required in order to express my opinion!!! I'm Disabled and on a tight, fixed income. I wonder how I'm going to go about opening a hot dog stand??! I've got to tell you, URALLcrazy. I don't think I'm going to be able to swing it!! Besides, I don't want 'just' a hot dog stand!!!! As I stated but which I guess you chose to ignore, I said I want a 'really, really good hot dog joint'!!!! Something that would gain a reputation like Fat Johnnie's on Western Avenue had!!! People would come from other areas for something like that!!!! As to Wendy, is it okay with you if when she opens her restaurant, she spells 'Thai' correctly? You think it won't do too well as it is. Misspelling it as 'Tai' is NOT going to help to draw customers in!! I'd be afraid I wasn't going to be served authentic Thai food if they couldn't even spell it!!! Well, you're pretty good when it comes to shooting down other people's opinions and doing it in an insulting manner, to boot!! LOL!!! It's always amusing when someone angrily criticizes other people's ideas, while they themselves have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the conversation!!
CAJ August 08, 2012 at 07:30 PM
NormanyAve - Your rebuttal to my post, in every way, truly shows your intelligence level and lack of reading comprehension. No where in it do I say trustees should all be real estate experts. Nor did I say that I wanted government to solve all problems (at least that's what I think you accused me of suggesting - you rambled quite a bit). As for the rest of your ramblings, well, I can't respond to them. I can't go that low. I've been out of the fifth grade for quite some time.
Sandra Bury August 08, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Hey URALLcrazy: You’re absolutely right that I’m not willing to take a risk that a businessMAN would. I’m a business woman. I have owned my own business on 95th Street since about 1995. I have been a Director of the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce since about 1998. I employ about 15 people. I think I know a thing or two about taking risks as well. Oak Lawn is a fabulous place for business. The people of Oak Lawn are great. There’s a strong desire to improve. There’s just no business leadership coming from the top down. The ingredients are all on the stove. We just have to add some energy and heat it up. A vibrant business climate can and should happen here. No reason why it can’t.
prophet12155 August 08, 2012 at 09:58 PM
It is so funny that after all my comments yesterday, my kids asked me today if we could go to oak park and go to the cool fun stores they have out there. So I drove 30 minutes away to go shopping with my kids.......too bad Oak Lawn isn't a destination place like Oak Park to shop.
prophet12155 August 08, 2012 at 10:04 PM
By the time jobs and the economy come back, Oak Lawn is going to be a low class city, with poverty citizens and crappy business or no businesses at all, if it keeps up like this.
prophet12155 August 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Hey Ron Williams.....will you run for Trustee or Mayor (or maybe Oak Lawn could hire you as Village Manager)? What a simple solution to such an ugly, run down problem!
prophet12155 August 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Hey Ron Williams.....will you run for Trustee or Mayor (or maybe Oak Lawn could hire you as Village Manager)? What a simple solution to such an ugly, run down problem!
prophet12155 August 08, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Sandra, this is about the only issue I agree with you on. I have been wanting to start a business in Oak Lawn but have no desire to open something in an area where I am not sure it would succeed due to high rent and lack of other interesting stores.....something to think about. (PS sometimes when you are out of work, your credit score takes a beating and you lack collateral to start somewhere.....how about easy, low low interest small business loans)
prophet12155 August 08, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Ok, a second issue I agree with you on. Trustee Streit has only added to the blight Oak Lawn is currently suffering! See my earlier posts. I would bet something shady is going on with Streit and Groebe real estate, if someone would only take a closer look.
Wendy August 08, 2012 at 10:22 PM
URALLcrazy- I wouldn't open a thai or indian restaurant because I don't know how to cook it! That is why I would go to a restaurant! And I LOATHE ironing, that is why I take it to the cleaners. Very good reasons NOT to open those businesses in Oak Lawn or anywhere else!
Wendy August 08, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Lawny- Although I would like a Whole Foods here, I don't know if it would thrive. People often call it "whole paycheck," but a lot of it really is comparable to Jewel prices. The expensive perception of it would have to change. I have noticed more of my neighbors driving to Willowbrook to shop at Whole Foods; people are becoming more aware of buying quality food. Let's hope this trend continues!
BainesDHHoF August 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Sandra is so hypocritical!!!! She intros the negativity!!!! Has to attack Dave and Bob to the discussion going towards how great she will be as mayor because they suck. Everybody posting that doesn't share Daves viewpoint or is one of his "crew." I got news for you, i voted against him last two elections. I'm one of those who voted for Jane, but not Dave. If choice is between you or him, I'm voting Dave all the way. You are just a puppet for Alex. At least Dave, right or wrong at times, has a mind of his own. The chamber needs the mayor to be a leader? What should he do, wave a magic wand and fix the national economy? You make me sick.
Watchful Eye August 08, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Dr. Bury has contributed to the community for years and did an excellent job of taking a run down building on 95th St. and turning it into a state of the art office/medical business. I am glad that people are posting suggestions and comments- maybe they will trickle to the OL leaders and jump start something for this blighted stretch of roadway- pretty sure that's why the article was originally printed. URALLcrazy- seems like you don't have anything to contribute and just take pleasure in taking shots at those who are at least willing to speak up. Keep up the posts everyone- nice to see that we have citizens interested in bettering OL!
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton August 08, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I hope the Village does not encourage more condominiums. At least we were able to force them to scale back the number last time. We need to recognize that we are NOT a high end suburb. Pretending we are and trying to attract high end business is a big mistake. We need many more moderately priced restaurants, entertainment venues and specialty stores. The Village has many older residents who moved here with young children in the 60s and now will be going to nursing homes, retirement communities or trying to make it on their own during the next ten years. With the economy they cannot afford high prices. We need to encourage the younger generation to help them maintain their homes and encourage the older generation to share homes when they lose their spouse. Until Illinois removes funding schools with property taxes, property taxes in poor suburbs and moderately priced suburbs will be so high that there will be NO business able to afford to stay in a poor neighborhood and very few who want to start up in a moderately priced neighborhood like ours. A few years back when I ran for the school board I analyzed the property situation and found that a $200,000 home in Oak Lawn that paid $3000 property taxes per year would have a tax bill in Harvey of $9,000 and in Zion or Skokie of $1,000. Residents pay more if businesses cannot afford to rent in the neighborhood. So there is not much we can do until the legislature changes the way schools are funded.
BainesDHHoF August 08, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Sandra, Wtf does "about 15 people" mean? You don't know how many people work for you and you can solve the business woes of our Village? What ingredients are on the stove? I like your analogy because it's apparent that you are a great cook. I'm sure Alex will put a great campaign together for you, but it's the votes that count. Dave has 5 & 6, if bob's with him, he's got 3 , trautsch, a horrible appt btw, will fight for him in 1. Duhig's 15 minutes are up, he gone. Dave will pick up 4 and 6! How do you think you have any chance?
BainesDHHoF August 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Another kooky doctor!!!!
OakLawnGuy August 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Groebe working behind the scenes with Oak Lawn officials? That's called "business as usual" in these parts.
john Crivellone August 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM
High rents are the problem. The rents are high because most leases are triple net. This means when taxes go higher so do the rents. Keep the lid on taxes and the problem will correct itself.
OakLawnGuy August 08, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I wonder if the ecomonic woes of the last 4 years have pushed things to a point where Village officials are just happy to get anyone to open something here? The New D-Lux is a case in point, not much of a step above the other crime scene. (That's the establishment Mr. Streit welcomed "with open arms".) The lack of creativity on the part of those in charge of attracting businesses here is really kind of appalling. That hoary old corporate saying "think outside the box" applies during tough times. Calling in big developers to put up 9 story office buildings doesn't correspond with that.
OakLawnGuy August 08, 2012 at 10:50 PM
SW Hwy from 95th to the bridge is just plain nasty, and creativity and vision is going to be required of Village officials to make anything of it. I wonder if Mr. Deetjen, Oak Lawn Village Manager, has put any time or thought into bringing up that area.
OakLawnGuy August 08, 2012 at 10:55 PM
To the point of lack of leadership from the Mayoral office: we have a Manager-centric government. He can make recommendations to be voted on by the Board, not approved by the Mayor. If he builds the voting bloc, as he had before the apparent upheaval earlier this year, then his way is our way and that's just how it is.
Sheldon Cooper August 09, 2012 at 12:49 AM
A news release from February said that Whole Foods confirms that it's going to open a store in Orland Park, in the fall of 2012. If that comes to be, no way will they bother to open another one in Oak Lawn. If they have since scuttled the plans to open in Orland Park, same result. If Orland Park isn't good enough for them, one sniff of Oak Lawn will be enough to convince them to keep on moving right along. This place is getting so tacky and run down, it doesn't even rate as being 'shabby chic' any more.
Joe Skibinski August 09, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Your first two paragraphs are definitely on target. However, I'm not so sure about your angle street observation. I can think of several thriving business districts along Clark Steet, Milwaukee and even Archer Avenues. I think a major issue is the lack of a unified master plan for the area that defines the region's future, establishes goals and creates incentives for development. But keep in mind, if we use the same approach as we did with 111th and Cicero, we'll just be adding to our woes.
Ron Williams August 09, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Folks, we are not alone. The older suburbs, particularly those built in the 1950s and 1960s, no longer attract a lot of new development or new residents. These older places are located very close to the city, and exhibit the very symptoms of decline that US cities experienced decades ago.The continued outward suburban expansion is coupled with the simultaneous decline of older suburbs located near the city.I feel that our best chance is focusing on making Oak Lawn a more vibrant, livable, people-friendly community.The village should be creating strategically located pockets of density that I think are required for innovation and productivity. This could provide our troubled village with the fix that it so desperately needs.I have a place in Waukesha that we will eventually retire to, it is located in their down town area. A vibrant alive densely populated area with every thing in walking distance.They also tap into the college community, artists, medical facilities,cross generational and family activities.We have these same elements around us yet they seem to be disjointed, separated. Lets explore what other communities in the same situations have done to revive their self's.
Sheldon Cooper August 09, 2012 at 03:14 AM
"I have a place in Waukesha that we will eventually retire to, it is located in their down town area. A vibrant alive densely populated area with every thing in walking distance.They also tap into the college community, artists, medical facilities,cross generational and family activities.We have these same elements around us yet they seem to be disjointed, separated. Lets explore what other communities in the same situations have done to revive their self's." I think that's a very good idea, Ron Williams!!!! Was Waukesha ever in the state Oak Lawn is in and did they manage to change it into what it is today? If so, what steps did they take!?! If Waukesha isn't a good example, do you know of some areas that were floundering but then found ways to better their neighborhoods!!!? Modeling Oak Lawn after suburbs that are improving rather than heading in the opposite direction might be a great way to go!!!!
STM August 11, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I strongly agree with you. If you want high end stores and businesses go to the rich neighborhoods or downtown where they most likely don't pay such high taxes as we do in Oak Lawn. This is a suburb of average working people who like me barely survive financially. My taxes went up $1300 for 6 months and I had to borrow money to pay them. Like you said we need more moderately priced stores not high end stores. Dr. Linda Shelton, you are absolutely right.
Sheldon Cooper August 11, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Sigh. I suppose if the taxes were ridiculously low, businesses would move into Oak Lawn. But at least part of the reason that businesses aren't rushing into Oak Lawn is that there IS no 'need' of this kind of store or that kind of store. Every place you can think of that you need to go can either be found close-by or is 'high end' enough that it has NO interest in opening in this modest an area. Since this thread has started, I've had occasion to drive down the section of Southwest Highway a couple of times. Wow. It's really trashy. It looks hopeless. If I wanted to open a business, I wouldn't want to do it there just on looks alone!!!! It's hardly the type of location that draws people in. It's depressingly crappy looking. Too bad the space is defined as it is. That makes a Walmart out of the question -- and that's about the only kind of place that would fit in with how the rest of the place looks. It wouldn't make it look any more low class and shabby. It would just fit right in.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) August 16, 2012 at 04:37 AM
I shall do that BBB.
Thomas E Nelson September 23, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I really think a DQ(dairy queen) or a sonic would really do well in this location.They are always running ad's for their burgers or hot dogs at great prices.or if not either of these two the an el pollo loco they have the greatest fryed chicken ever..
Thomas E Nelson September 23, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Thomas E Nelson 7:42 pm on Saturday, September 22, 2012 I really think a DQ(dairy queen) or a sonic would really do well in this location.They are always running ad's for their burgers or hot dogs at great prices.or if not either of these two then an el pollo loco they have the greatest fryed chicken ever..

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