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Oak Brook panel tackles signs

As seen The Doings Oak Brook

Oak Brook’s newly revived commercial revitalization committee kicked off their first meeting in over three years this week with a review of the past while attempting to set goals for the future of the village.

Former Trustee Jeff Kennedy chaired the committee, which met as a committee of the whole due to a lack of quorum, with six of the 10 members attending.

The group discussed the village’s original commercial revitalization plan, which included new signs to help visitors locate businesses in the not-so-visible areas of Oak Brook. Examples included Jorie Boulevard, and Commerce and Windsor drives.

Initial plans for signs included stone monuments around 10 feet tall with the various business names on them. The size and cost of such a plan was scrutinized.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said Oakbrook Center general manager Chuck Fleming. “The more (names) you put on a sign the harder it’s going to be to read.

“Some offices have 20-25 tenants. Who’s going to be on there and who’s not? It’s going to be quite difficult.”

The village estimated the larger signs to cost around $75,000 each, but was hopeful businesses would help offset the cost. With the questions brought up, the committee felt the village would have a tough time being reimbursed for its investment.

Jeff Shay of Jones Lang LaSalle said the signs were “advertising in the form of directional signage,” and they could create conflicts with current signs and monuments placed by existing businesses.

Community Development Director Bob Kallien presented the opportunity site analysis which chose 20-25 sites within the village as having potential to add development, be redeveloped or have new development.

Seven consultant proposals were submitted to study only three or four of the areas in the hope that when the economy improves they’d be ready for improvements, but some felt it may be an unnecessary task for the village.

“I think smart developers already have put Xs on properties,” said Dennis Hiffman of NAI Hiffman. “I think when the market tells them to (the developers) will come to the village.”

Village President Gopal Lalmalani felt the meeting was productive and stressed the commercial revitalization and streetscape committee continue to beautify the village to set Oak Brook apart from other communities within DuPage County.

“Twenty-Second Street is our Michigan Avenue,” Lalmalani said. “We have to make it as beautiful as we can.”

Lalmalani also brought up the idea of a downtown area for Oak Brook, which, he says, comes up “every time discussions like this take place.”

Fleming felt a downtown would need a train station or commuter hub to work, but Lalmalani said he’s looking for more of a gathering place for residents, not so much a retail center.

“We can make it something unique and exciting for families to get together,” Lalmalani said. “It may not happen in four years, but it may happen in the next eight to 12 years. It is what residents want and we are here to serve the residents.”

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