Oak Park neighbors work to improve North Avenue

March 30, 2013 by  

A 100 member-strong association is aiming to keep North Avenue classy, but trying to encourage a certain style of shop to move there.

Judith Alexander, who founded the group, moved to Oak Park, Illinois in 1982 and, like many others, did not realize the area was going down until a pawn shop wanted to move in. At that point, Alexander, her husband and neighbors formed the North Avenue Neighborhood Association.

The group wants to prevent businesses like pawn shops and payday loan companies from establishing themselves on North Avenue. The group believes that these businesses take advantage of poor people, plus they are often regarded, rightly or wrongly, as a sign of a decaying neighborhood, which then discourages other businesses from investing there.

North Avenue is a boundary: the south side of the street is in Oak Park and the north side is in the city of Chicago. Alexander says that she would like to see that people driving along North Avenue realize things change for the better as they enter Oak Park.

Loretta Daly, who is Oak Park’s business services manager, refutes the idea that the village is not interested in the development of North Avenue, and says there is interest in encouraging all businesses that will bring value to the area. She adds that Oak Park sponsored a Broker and Developer Tour in 2012 to provide interested businesses the opportunity to investigate available sites. She also provided demographic data about area residents.

Anderson’s group and the village could work together and contact brochure printers to develop detailed materials to send to small businesses, pointing out the advantages of locating on North Avenue.