With the economic heart of downtown Oak Park beginning to pump new blood into every part of the community, eyes now are on the next investment frontier — the Madison Street corridor.
A private developer selected through a competitive bid has agreed to an innovative Village concept to slightly bend the street northward between Wesley and Oak Park avenues to create a parcel large enough to attract a major retailer that could become a catalyst for new investment all along Madison Street.
Reconfiguring the street also offers an opportunity to dramatically enhance safety for all who use the busy, historically auto-centric roadway. Getting the nearly 20,000 drivers who regularly travel along Madison Street at average speeds approaching 40 miles an hour to slow down is a key benefit of the plan.
Under the proposal, which has just begun the comprehensive public review process, the Village likely will be expected to fund traditional public costs related to infrastructure like water and sewer lines and sidewalk and street improvements. But these costs could be largely underwritten through the Madison Street Tax Increment Finance District and by incorporating publicly owned parcels into the project.
The redevelopment costs, including property purchases and construction, would be borne by the developer whose plans and approaches would be thoroughly vetted through a vigorous public process managed by the citizen volunteers on the Plan Commission.
Preliminary estimates are that the Village tax base could grow about $3 million in the first full year of development — a nearly 20-fold increase over the taxes currently generated along this section of the corridor.
Beyond tax revenue and improved services, officials say the project also would bring vitality, a new image and an improved retail environment that would benefit those who live, work and shop on Madison Street, as well as the residents in the adjacent neighborhoods.
For more information on this and other development projects visit www.oak-park.us/development.