Discussion has picked up as the Woodridge Village Board approved proceeding with eminent domain to acquire the Janes Plaza Shopping Center. The purpose of the acquisition is to allow the Woodridge Park District to build the Athletic Recreation Center (ARC) on the property. The following is my position on the project.
The corner of 83rd and Janes where the property is located is a gateway into Woodridge. People come from all around to visit Cypress Cove, traffic comes and goes from IKEA and the Promenade through that intersection and traffic comes east from Route 53 into Woodridge. The current condition of that corner is not how I believe we would like Woodridge to be presented to those visiting and passing through.
This corner has always had a high vacancy rate, even in a good economy. There has been no movement by the current landlord to use the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) assistance available. That corner has shown itself incapable of attracting business that sustains itself and the businesses that are there have not shown the ability to attract new business to the corner. It seems at this point continuing to try and develop this corner is not going to get us the results we would like to see.
This brings us to the ARC. After considering other options available I do believe this is a project that can get this corner redeveloped, bring positive activity to the area and help move that corridor forward.
Prior to moving to Woodridge I lived in Berwyn. I spent nine years on the Berwyn Development Corp. Board where we managed four large TIF districts. One of the things I took away from my time on that board is when you have a chance to do something big in an area that needs redevelopment you do it. If you don’t you continue to see an area that flounders, waiting for a catalyst to change things. That catalyst never comes. In this case I believe the ARC is that catalyst.
Those businesses that would be displaced will receive assistance through the TIF to relocate. As Mayor I’ll do my best to keep them in Woodridge, filling other vacant storefronts in the village. As always I look forward to your comments.
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