It’s Good to be OPEN




Oak Park Business Recovery task force develops marketing campaign to encourage supporting local business as State continues to open for business

(Oak Park, Illinois, July 6, 2020) –With Phase Four of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan underway, Oak Park is OPen for business. A task force organized through the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) and led by Trustee Deno Andrews has developed a marketing campaign to encourage people to shop and support local businesses in Oak Park.

The summer campaign is a positive sign that Oak Park is OPen for business. Building on suggestions of the taskforce, which included several local business owners in addition to senior Village staff, The Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce and Trustee Simone Boutet, OPEDC has developed a campaign that utilizes social media, PR, window clings, email and advertising to promote supporting local.

“This campaign is meant to support our local business community, absolutely. But it’s so much more than that. Our businesses and residents are resilient, we are excited to be open for business, and we are proud to be an open, welcoming community, says John Lynch, OPEDC Executive Director. “In short, it’s good to be OPen.”

From North Avenue to downtown Oak Park to Roosevelt Road, Oak Park features 11 distinct business districts filled with opportunities to discover, shop, eat, relax and engage. Diverse and dynamic, Oak Park is the best of all worlds, and welcomes everyone.

Restaurants are open at 50 percent indoor capacity, and many restaurants offer outdoor seating to provide a safe and enjoyable experience. In Downtown Oak Park, outdoor seating has been set up on Westgate Street. And on Thursday night from 5pm to 9pm, Marion Street offers outdoor seating for 80. In addition, outdoor seating has been added on Lake between Oak Park and Euclid in the Hemingway District; along Lombard in the Arts District; on Oak Park Avenue in the Southtown district; and other locations throughout the community.

“Shopping local helps your neighbors, friends and community. We encourage you to support the hundreds of restaurants and shops in Oak Park–but do so safely wearing a mask and practicing social distancing,” says task force chair and Village Trustee Deno Andrews.


About the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation

OPEDC is a not-for-profit economic development organization working to bring business investment to the Village of Oak Park. Since 1974, OPEDC has assisted developers, property owners, and businesses in the purchase, sale, leasing, and rehabilitation of commercial property. For more information about the OPEDC, please visit

It’s Good to Be OPEN Press Release (7/6/2020)

It’s Good to be OPen – Sign

Carryout oakpark .com

Check out a new website developed by OPEDC to help support local businesses during this difficult time.  With businesses having to adjust quickly to new market realities, we hope this website helps customers easily keep up with what local restaurants and retailers are offering.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Cook County Now Eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans

On Wednesday, March 18, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a disaster declaration for the State of Indiana, making Cook County (as a contiguous county) eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).  Businesses located in Cook County, who have suffered substantial economic injury due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may now apply for these funds.

What types of businesses are eligible?

  • Small Businesses
  • Small Agricultural Cooperatives
  • Most private nonprofit organizations

Loan Amounts and Use

  • Up to $2 million to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had disaster not occurred
  • EIDL can provide necessary working capital to help businesses survive until normal operations resume
  • Loan amounts based on actual economic injury and company’s financial needs

Eligibility and Terms

  • Interest rate not to exceed 4% per year
  • Terms will not exceed 30 years
  • Repayment terms determined by business’ ability to repay loan
  • Only available to businesses unable to obtain credit elsewhere

How to Apply

Basic filing requirements include:

  • SBA Form 413 here
  • SBA Form 5 here
  • SBA Form 2022 here
  • IRS Form 4506-T here
  • Complete copies, including all schedules, of the most recent Federal income tax returns for the applicant business (an explanation if not available)
  • Additional information as needed

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail

Tips for Approaching a Lender

Tips for Approaching a Lender

As the financial realities of this crisis begin to impact small businesses, we reached out to local lending partners for some advice on how to approach a bank about your circumstances.  Below are a few pointers and programs to consider.  We hope this is helpful. – OPEDC

Businesses with an existing lending relationship:

Any business experiencing hardship due to the impact of the coronavirus should contact their lender right away about temporary payment modifications or to increase existing working capital lines of credit.  Although this is a difficult conversation, it’s better to have it sooner rather than later.

Businesses that are considering financing:

If a business does not currently have a lending relationship with a bank but needs to apply for financing, it is highly recommended that they get their financials in order before making the initial outreach.  That means PDFs or copies of the following:

  1. 2016-2018 complete business tax returns
  2. 2016-2018 business financial statements (they don’t have to be accountant prepared – Quickbooks Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet reports are fine)
  3. 2019 year-end Income Statement and  Balance Sheet (and tax return if available)
  4. Current dated Accounts Receivable Aging and Accounts Payable Aging reports
  5. 2016-2018 complete personal tax returns (state and federal returns including W-2 forms, K-1s, etc.)
  6. A current personal financial statement for the business owner(s)
With this information, a lender can give a business owner meaningful answers in a timely manner and it will allow a lender to accelerate a loan request.

Non-bank lenders:

For businesses that don’t believe they qualify for traditional financing, Accion Chicago is a reputable non-profit lender based in Chicago offering small business financing and coaching services.

Accion has announced an expedited lending program up to $25,000 for any businesses with a clean credit report in 2019.  Rather than conduct a full underwrite of your business, they will set the maximum loan amount based on your monthly revenues in January and February.  Click here to apply.

For more information on Accion Chicago programs and services, click here.

Thank you:
Erik Fjeldstad, SVP-Chief Lending Officer, Forest Park National Bank
Matthew Howe, VP-Commercial Lending, Old Second National Bank

Overview: In 2018, OPEDC continued to work closely with the Village of Oak Park to solidify its position as the premier western suburb. New retail came in on Harrison Street, in the Hemingway District, on Chicago Avenue, on Roosevelt Road, in Downtown Oak Park and on North Avenue. Notable new tenants include MORA Asian Kitchen, Poke Burrito, and Rare Bird Preserves. 2018 saw completion and delivery of District House condominiums with all 28 units sold; the building also hosts a ground floor tenant, Club Pilates. Flexhouse live-work spaces on Harrison Street, created by Ranquist Development and Campbell Coyle and designed by Philadelphia architectural firm ISA, sold out before the groundbreaking. Lincoln Properties’ 250-unit mixed use project called Eleven33 near the Harlem el and Metra station is under construction, as is the Albion mixed use building at 1000 Lake Street; The Emerson continued lease-ups in 2018. 2018 was a stellar year in Oak Park. Detailed information on highlighted projects below.


senior living

Madison Street: Pete’s Fresh Market and Senior Living Facility

Two projects are planned for Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street. Oak Park’s second Pete’s Fresh Market store is proposed for Madison Street, on the north side of the street between Euclid and Wesley. Smaller retail tenants will join in on the northeast corner of Madison and Oak Park Avenue. Additionally, an eight-story senior living facility has been proposed for 711 Madison Street, on the south side of the street, owned and managed by Essex Communities and planning to offer approximately 120 units to Oak Park seniors.

turano photo1

Roosevelt Road: Turano and Alcuin Montessori School

Roosevelt Road saw two major projects take hold. Turano Baking Company will locate its corporate offices across the street from its Berwyn factory, at 6500-32 West Roosevelt Road in Oak Park. Turano, serving nearly 10,000 customers daily, has expanded drastically and has chosen Oak Park to be the home of its new headquarters building. Down the road toward the west, Alcuin Montessori School, an Oak Park and River Forest institution for more than fifty years, is building a new campus in the 6900 block of Roosevelt Road. The new campus will house an expanded infant and toddler program, as well as a larger middle school to meet increased demand. It will complement their current campus at 324 N. Oak Park Avenue.

              alcuin image                                                                     


Southtown: The Community Builders Affordable Housing

The Community Builders (TCB) plans to provide high-quality affordable housing for Oak Park’s lower-income workforce (individuals earning between minimum wage and approximately $17 per hour) at 801 S. Oak Park Avenue. The space will offer mostly one-bedroom units with amenities, commercial space, two ground-level live/work spaces and close access to transit such as the CTA blue line.


op market


 North Avenue: New Developments

 Oak Park Market opened its doors in October, bringing a full-service grocery to the district and offering organic food, a hot food counter, fresh dessert and craft beer. 6545 North Avenue will become residential apartments, and a mixed-use development was begun at 6555 North Avenue.


Harrison Street: Flexhouse and More

Flexible live-work space at 202-208 Harrison was developed by Ranquist and Campbell Coyle and designed by Philadelphia architecture firm ISA; the four-unit structure sold out before its groundbreaking and was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business and Architect Magazine. Down the street, new restaurant MORA Asian Kitchen opened in late September with a grand opening on October 4. Rare Bird Preserves, offering bespoke jam and jam-making instruction, also opened in October. Long-time Arts District business Cross Fit Spero opened in new space (221 Harrison), Centre Physical Therapy opened its doors at 207 Harrison, and L’institut de français put down roots and began offering French language instruction and conversation opportunities.




Chicago Avenue: New Businesses

Two new businesses moved to Oak Park from River Forest this year. Tulipia Floral Design (pictured) set up shop at 1044 Chicago Ave. Their new neighbors, at 1048 Chicago Avenue, are Clydon Hair Salon and Spa, also formerly of River Forest.


24670 Total private investment: $29,900,000

icon_people-business-512 New full-time equivalent employees: 215

shop-2        62,000 new square feet leased; 80,000 new square feet developed


(all numbers are village-wide)

By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) announced its long-running chairman, Marty Noll, is stepping down from the position after 27 years, according to an OPEDC press release.

Noll, who serves as chairman of Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, is succeeded by Tom Gallagher, who serves on the OPEDC board of directors and is senior vice president and chief credit officer of Community Bank.

Noll stepped down from the chairman position on June 1 and will finish his service on the board at the end of 2018, according to the press release.

OPEDC is a quasi-governmental body hired by the village of Oak Park to attract and retain business development in the village. Formerly known as the Oak Park Development Corporation, the group restructured in 2014 and rebranded as the OPEDC, enacting new bylaws that limit non-governmental board members to two consecutive terms.

“My willingness to be involved and get things accomplished was just there. It was in the genes, I guess,” Noll said in the press release. “If you care about what’s happening and want to contribute, you simply have to want to do it. All the knowledge in the world unused doesn’t get anything done.”

Gallagher said in the press release that Noll is “approachable and always puts Oak Park first.”

“He always makes time,” Gallagher said. “He’s accessible and ‘gets’ economic development.”

OPEDC Executive Director John Lynch said Noll “understands the need to preserve the village’s rich history and culture; as a business leader, he knows the importance of keeping Oak Park welcoming to new residents and business investment.

“He has been invaluable to me as both a mentor and a source of knowledge and insight into this community,” he said.

Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said of Noll, “I love him dearly.”


As District House nears completion and the delivery of its condominium units, new commercial tenants are also making plans. A new fitness concept called Club Pilates will occupy approximately half of the retail frontage on Lake Street. Owner Kristin Kohn, who owns another Club Pilates studio in Westmont, says Club Pilates offers “approachable, affordable top-quality Pilates for all shapes, sizes and experience levels.”

Becoming the owner of two franchised Club Pilates studios combines Kohn’s love of fitness with her business background. She is currently finishing the 500-hour certification to be a Pilates instructor and will be teaching in her own studio by the time the Oak Park location opens later this year.kristin-headshot.jpg

“We offer group classes for all levels so that everyone feels comfortable, from a beginner to an expert.  We do not require pricey one-on-one sessions for beginners to join our group classes,” Kohn says. Kohn adds that the full-day class schedule and career path also make it easier for instructors to have Pilates as a full-time career.

On selecting the location at 704 Lake Street, Kohn says, “Oak Park is a vibrant community that blends the best of suburban and urban living.” She adds, “We are excited to bring Club Pilates to the active people of Oak Park.” The District House project also features 28 artful urban residences and will mark the gateway between the historic Hemingway District and downtown Oak Park.

“Club Pilates is for every person who can benefit from a stronger, more flexible body and a more balanced life,” Kohn says.

Learn more about District House at and Club Pilates at



Total private investment:





New full-time equivalent employees:





62,000 new square feet leased

80,000 new square feet developed


Overview: In 2017, OPEDC, worked in close partnership with the Village of Oak Park to solidify Oak Park’s position as the premier urban suburb west of the city. Oak Park welcomed new retail in Downtown, the Hemingway District, the Oak Park Arts District, the Pleasant District and Southtown. Retail occupancy hit 100% on Marion Street between North Boulevard and Lake Street before year end. 2017 saw completion of The Emerson, a mixed-use development with 271 rental and ground floor tenants including Target, The Groomery, Firecakes Donuts and, adjacent, Wheel and Sprocket.

On the other side of the el tracks, Lincoln Properties’ 250-unit mixed use project got underway, with delivery expected in early 2019. In October, the Village Board approved a step design for Albion, a mixed-use project at 1000 Lake Street. Meanwhile, District House condominiums on Lake Street is 75 % sold and looking forward to delivering units in May 2018. Lexington Homes plans to turn most of a block of Madison Street into townhomes. Flexhouse, a new type of home/work environment, will soon come to Harrison Street; Harrison Street will also welcome MORA Asian Kitchen, Rare Bird Preserves and other new tenants. Two new breweries moved into the Pleasant District: Wild Onion Tied House and Two Brothers Social Tap. Oak Park has the highest retail occupancy rate of twelve similar communities including Naperville, Evanston and La Grange.

 2017 Featured Projects

emersonThe Emerson

The Emerson is a new mixed-use tower next to the Harlem CTA and Metra stop. 271 rental units—currently over 30% leased—span two buildings, connected by a sky-bridge. Retail, including Target and The Groomery, occupy the first floor. The complex furnishes 428 parking spaces for use by residents, shoppers, and downtown commuters.


In October, a stepped design for a mixed-use building at 1000 Lake Street was submitted by Albion Residential and approved by the Oak Park Village Board. The plan, which was amended from earlier versions, calls for the Lake Street frontage of the building to top out at 19 stories, with height gradually dropping to the north. Along its north façade, the building will be nine stories tall, or 96 feet in height with “steps” built into the structure at floors 10, 14 and 18. The building plans to include 265 residential units and first-floor retail space, as well as 207 parking stalls.

Retail Tenants: Target & Cooper’s Hawk

In October, Target opened a small-format store with doors opening onto both Lake Street and Westgate. The store is a tenant in The Emerson.

chtarget new

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is the anchor tenant in the mixed-use 21-story Vantage building at 150 Forest. The Countryside-based restaurant and winery chain, which now has more than 20 locations, operates a restaurant, bar, tasting room, “artisan market” and private events space as well as outdoor dining and an active wine club.


Breaking ground on Harrison Street in spring of 2018 is Flexhouse, recent winner of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Illinois Charter Award. According to developer Chris Dillion of Campbell Coyle, Flexhouse is “a new type of home that is tuned to today’s buyer.” These modern and efficient homes foster sustainable choices and appeal to urban lifestyles by incorporating live/work design elements. The project sold out in approximately one month, while tenants and buyers are sought for the “bookend” buildings at 200 and 210 Harrison Street.


Lexington Homeslex

In December, Lexington Homes partnered with the Village in a redevelopment agreement which will bring 21 town homes to two Village-owned lots on Madison Street between Home Avenue and Clinton. Construction will commence in 2018.

It’s not even spring yet, but new growth is sprouting in the Oak Park Arts District. Several new vendors have plans to move in, and longer-term tenants plan to expand their concepts.

2017_02_22 Corner View_previewBreaking ground this spring is Flexhouse, recent winner of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Illinois Charter Award. According to developer Chris Dillion of Campbell Coyle, Flexhouse is “a new type of home that is tuned to today’s buyer.” Dillion explains that these modern and efficient homes appeal to urban lifestyles and foster sustainable choices. He adds that Flexhouse “incorporates live/work functionality [and was] designed with the artist and entrepreneur in mind.” The project sold out in approximately one month, while tenants and buyers are sought for the “bookend” buildings at 200 and 210 Harrison Street.

Flexhouse isn’t the only news. MORA Asian Kitchen plans to arrive on Harrison Street in spring 2018. The concept features tapas-sized plates and Asian fusion cuisine. This will be their third location, following Plainfield and Bolingbrook.

rare bird1Elizabeth Madden, founder of Rare Bird Preserves, plans to relocate her business to 211 Harrison Street, creating a space that is part commercial kitchen and part retail shop (she is currently working out of temporary kitchen space on Chicago Avenue in Chicago). Rare Bird is acclaimed for its micro-batch, hand-crafted jam made the traditional way: in copper pots, with the best fruit ingredients. Madden says, “We have a strong, loyal customer base, who are excited for our new shop in Oak Park. We hope to bring many new people to the Oak Park Arts District from within the Oak Park community and surrounding suburbs, as well as Chicago fans and customers from all over the United States.”

happy apple 2Soon District Kitchen and Tap, the newest food concept of Patrick O’Brien, chef and owner of the Scratch Restaurant Group, will join other tenants–Happy Apple Pie Shop (open since 2017), Tapster Robotics and more–in the revamped Harrison and Harvey building.

Meanwhile, Stacy Fifer is about to open her doors this month with l’Institut français d’Oak Park, offering university-level instruction of French language and literature. Fifer is an experienced university instructor whose future plans for the institut include organized culture- and language-based trips to France.

nature yoga sanctuaryOther concepts, like Nicole Sopko’s Nature Yoga Sanctuary, are not new to the neighborhood; their former home was around the corner. In their new and larger space, they also run a vegan café. Additionally, kid and adult birthday parties—which include group yoga lessons and events —are now available.


Similarly, Crossfit Spero, owned by David Greene, is not new to the street, but plans to move to a larger space. Greene says the new location will allow them to offer simultaneous classes for adults and children as well as programming with demands for larger equipment.

With so many dynamic concepts now anchoring the district, growth is already underway. Residents and visitors can find delicious things to eat, interesting places to live and work, and rewarding experiences in the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street.



Open for Business December Profile: Firecakes Donuts

“Donuts are good for your soul,” says Alejandra Morena, Firecakes Donuts’ supervisor at its new Oak Park location. Possibly Oak Parkers agree with her claim, for the new shop just across North Boulevard from the Harlem CTA entrance is frequently packed with folks eating in and ordering donuts to go. Good for the soul, or just good for the tastebuds. Good either way.

If you’ve heard of Firecakes, you might know about its signature dish, the donut ice cream sandwich. They offer a classic version, a build-your-own and a (rotating) featured. At the Oak Park location, the third and newest store for Firecakes, they are trying something new: chicken sandwiches on a brioche bun. These come with special Firecakes sauce as well as their own coleslaw and house-made potato chips.

I asked Moreno how Firecakes set itself apart from its competitors. We sat together at a long table as the sunlight poured in. Her answer was this: they focus on quality and consistency. They make sure that their products are always excellent, and this steady delivery keeps customers coming back for more. Jonathan Fox, Firecakes Donuts owner, elaborated: “You also have to give [the customer] something compelling. There’s got to be a differential, this element of separation that is going to make people think […] of going out of their way to have a Firecakes. How do we make it special? It’s one of those indulgences […] that is very approachable and very affordable. We have donuts that are $1 and $2.24 and we have donuts that are a little bit more.”

Fox—whose other locations are in River North and Lincoln Park—said he first heard of Oak Park from his neighbor, who happens to be one of the principals of Clark Street Development, the company responsible for the Emerson. Fox says, “I really liked what I saw. I liked the residential development. I liked the quaintness and the attention to detail on Marion Street. I felt like there was a nice balance of restaurants […] [With] the demographic of Oak Park proper as well as River Forest, I thought we could do well. The final thing that pulled me in was having the Metra and the el here. Being on the corner here by the Harlem stop is a good thing.” Fox adds that the Village made it “refreshingly easy” to open. He says they were “respectful and practical.”

I asked Moreno how the first two weeks were. She said, “It was amazing. It was really great to see so many people come out and say, we’re really glad that you’re here.”

The next time you’re looking for a peppermint hot chocolate donut or a classic buttermilk old-fashioned, the next time you want to bring an assorted box to work or try out a candied pepper bacon and maple long john, the next time you want to get your vegan on and still enjoy a donut, the next time you want to reserve online and try order pick up, the next time you want a donut ice cream sandwich, stop by the new Firecakes Donuts at 104 N. Maple in Oak Park. Open early until late seven days a week: commuters, grab your breakfast as early as 6:30 and night owls, shut it down 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. All the donuts, just about all the time.