Photo by Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury answers a question during her "State of the Village" speech to the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. Looking on at right are Village Clerk Jane Quinlan and Trustee Bud Stalker (5th).
By Dermot Connolly
The new restaurants and retail stores that will be opening within the next year in Oak Lawn were highlighted by Mayor Sandra Bury in her "State of the Village" speech to the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
“Economic development is very important to this community. That is what we are all here for,” said Bury at the luncheon meeting held at the Hilton Oak Lawn.
Bury pointed to several new restaurants and retail stores going into what is called Phase II of the Stony Creek Promenade development at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue. Construction of five new businesses is nearing completion on the western section of the site that is now anchored by a Cooper’s Hawk restaurant and Mariano’s grocery.
These include a locally owned Barrel Club restaurant, featuring fine dining, their own selection of whiskeys, as well as “steaks, chops and at least one vegetarian dish, because I asked,” said Bury.
“If you enjoy Cooper’s Hawk, you will love the Barrel Club,” said Bury, adding that the 8,300-square-foot restaurant is scheduled to open in late spring.
The second restaurant opening there in late summer or fall is Rock & Brews. Oak Lawn will be the first location in Illinois for the chain owned by Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss. Another is planned for Orland Park.
“It will have a lot of great rock 'n roll music, and upscale pub food, and an 80-foot guitar outside,” said Bury. “They wanted it to be seen from Cicero,” said Bury.
“It can probably be seen from space,” said one chamber member jokingly.
Two stores — TJ Maxx and HomeGoods — are also scheduled to open in late spring, along with a Mariano’s gas station, where people with Mariano’s cards can get discounts on gas.
Now that we are winding down Phase II, it is nice to look back and see the transformation of that site,” said the mayor, recalling how it was mainly an unused parking lot with an old Kmart and a few disconnected stores.
“It is really all about making it better for the future. That is what everyone is here to do. We view our community as a gift to the future,” said the mayor.
She next turned to the new Oak Lawn Commons, a new development underway at the southwest corner of the intersection of 95th and Pulaski, which, like Stony Creek, is a gateway to the community.
That site became available when Kmart and Chuck E. Cheese’s closed, and was purchased by the Hubbard Street Development Group.
“Hubbard Street group recognized the potential and they have been working with Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) to redevelop it,” Bury said.
She said the existing building will be redeveloped for four new businesses, which may include a fitness center and upscale grocery. Four new buildings will include restaurants, retail and perhaps a coffee shop, according to tentative plans.
“It is going to be jobs, it’s going to be energy, it is a new economic engine,” said Bury. “They are eager to hit the ground running and we are not putting on the brakes but we want it done right.”
Vorderer, whose district includes the area, said groundbreaking could happen in the next few months.
“I think the trees and landscaping they have planned will be a great improvement for the area,” Vorderer said.
Bury also pointed out that the site of the former Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., is going to be redeveloped into a Pete’s Fresh Market. She said the existing building will be torn down, along an apartment building and house behind it that have been purchased by the grocer to make room for the new store.
She said the Advocate Medical Center, which was built on the site of the old Beatty Lumber Co. at 9531 S. 52nd Ave., is about to open. It will have 350 employees, including more than 150 doctors, nurses and other professionals.
“Let’s hope they all want to buy homes in town and stay close,” she said.
The mayor said that increased retail development is one reason, along with cutting staff, that the village has been able to lower its property tax levy 5.8 percent in recent years, although the budget continues to increase.
“Everyone is working a little harder and doing more. The more sales tax we bring in, the less property tax that people have to pay. Property taxes hit everyone, no matter their income, and we want our seniors to be able to stay,” said Bury.