When a baseball team executes at the highest level, it makes everything look easy. What is not seen by the fan in the stands is that a great play is backed up by endless repetition not just for the days, weeks and months that make up a season, but for the years and years of play from little league, through high school, college for some and the minor leagues. Even an all-star veteran with 20 years in the majors begins each season in spring training, relearning the fundamentals of the game. Making something look effortless takes hard work and practice, practice, practice.
On April 1, JCCWRP accomplished something that we have been working on for the better part of two years, the recruitment of two businesses to occupy empty storefronts in our commercial district. Today, two locally owned businesses that had operated from their homes closed a deal to occupy 3 ½ commercial spaces on the southeast corner of California and Pratt. Located across the street from the newly constructed Agudah Israel Congregation, Congregation KINS, and the soon-to-be-redeveloped Veitzener Cheder on the site of the former ATT/ICJA, these retail businesses will convert a shabby underutilized strip mall into a real asset for a vital hub of the West Rogers Park Jewish community.
Two years ago JCCWRP articulated the vision of recruiting at least two home-based businesses to try an experiment of sorts: to relocate together to commercial space to expand their hours and their reach, to better serve the community, and to mutually benefit from the synergy created by their complementary product lines. We think all of that and more can now take place as Magenta / 13th Avenue Collection and Sox Galore take the next step in their development.
None of this would have happened without the willingness of the two owners -- names -- to take a leap of faith. None of this would have happened without JCCWRP's commitment to our mission of strengthening West Rogers Park. And none of this would have happened without the day-in-day-out hard work of our Executive Director, Shalom Klein, who convened countless meetings, worked on a business plan, explored suitable locations, negotiated with landlords, and ultimately provided ongoing support as the proprietors moved forward step by step.
April 1 is the beginning of a month, and a traditional time to begin a lease. Filling empty storefronts seems easy enough. Just as a great play in an athletic contest looks easy, so too will this achievement look simple. But those of us on the inside of JCCWRP know that once again every meaningful outcome takes hard work and perseverance.
Once they are open, we will be sharing information with the community about these two new businesses and encouraging everyone to support them. And soon we hope to have another announcement about the improvement of two existing establishments. Taken together we hope that these steps will allow us to build the positive momentum necessary to create more change in our commercial district in particular and the neighborhood as a whole.
Mazal Tov to all who were involved in pulling off this accomplishment!
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