Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton has nothing against Oak Lawn.
However, if he can attract a few businesses to his village instead of his southwest suburban neighbor, he is all for it.
Sexton, who in his 14th year as mayor, said that he is delighted at the recent prospects for Evergreen Park. While The Plaza was brought down by the wrecking ball last month after years of underachieving, The Evergreen Marketplace, which will replace the once iconic mall, is drawing plenty of attention.
“We are redeveloping what was The Plaza,” said Sexton. “And now I’ve heard that (Chicago) Ald. (Matt) O’Shea has said that he has been contacted by businesses who are interested in the development at the old Plaza. This is something that can help everyone out.”
Sexton informed a crowd that attended his “State of the Village” address Nov. 23 at the Evergreen Park Senior Center that the Evergreen Marketplace is expected to attract Dick’s Sporting Goods, Whole Foods, TJ Maxx, Party City and DSW Shoes. The Carson Pirie Scott that was part of the old Plaza and is still operating, will be rebuilt and added to the Marketplace.
Evergreen Park also has Mejer’s Grocery, BInny’s and Mariano’s. A Wal-Mart and Pete’s Market has also been part of the Evergreen Park business community for several years.
Sexton said that competition for businesses between Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn is healthy. However, he adds that both villages win because competition actually helps draw other businesses.
“It works out well,” said Sexton. “Naturally, I would like all the businesses to come to Evergreen Park. But we are succeeding at attracting businesses. Even when a business goes to Oak Lawn, it can help us in the end because it may attract someone else.”
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury is in agreement. She believes that it is a healthy competition that benefits both villages.
“If Evergreen Park is successful, Oak Lawn is successful,” said Bury. “For instance, we have at least 20 optometrists up and down 95th Street. Now, some would say that is too many, but actually this draws more doctors to the area. They come because the other optometrists are successful.”
Bury can point to the wide variety of businesses along 95th Street and Cicero Avenue. The Stony Creek Promenade District at 111th and Cicero has drawn more businesses since Mariano’s and Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant opened. Both well-established businesses drew record crowds for their opening days and have continued to attract customers.
“The Stony Creek Promenade resonates with us,” said Bury. “We have one of the top Mariano’s and Cooper’s Hawk in the area. They are glad they chose Oak Lawn. We are glad they came here.”
Sexton is in complete agreement. However, what pleases him is the stigma that was once attached to the southwest suburbs has eroded with the surge of development taking place in Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn.
“They (developers) should have been looking this way for years,” said Sexton. “We are no longer anyone’s leftovers.”