Shalom Klein and I are in ongoing contact about our initiatives, updating each other on developments and considering next steps. Reviewing how to approach our challenges and opportunities again and again, sometimes leads to new ways of thinking.
There can’t be much disagreement that Devon and Touhy west of California are far from ideal. Empty commercial spaces. An upgraded Devonstreetscapenot always matched by the reality beyond the sidewalk.
While it would be great to fill some of the empty properties with new establishments, as we were able to achieve with the founders of the Magenta Sister Stores at Pratt and California, there is much more to be done. With a concerted effort we may achieve other successes. But we must also overcome our “tunnel vision” as we explore the possibilities.
A week ago Shalom and I met with a staff member of World Business Chicago about our needs. That day it occurred to me that we might broaden our thinking with regard to empty commercial properties to include collaborative space for high tech and related fields.
WRP and our surrounding neighborhoods have a diverse, educated population. We have the right mix of people and geography to provide a good location for small startups.
We know that the retail world is changing. There are still opportunities for niche initiatives and we will do all that we can to join with others to market the needs of our residents that might be met by such businesses. But we should also keep in mind that there could well be other ways to fill the vacuum that exists in WRP.
Feel free to share any ideas that you might have on this subject. In the near future we will begin a process that hopefully might lead to a new way to meet a long existing need.