You may have heard that the Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Silverstein, saying she brought unspecified “improvements to the community, including along the key Devon Avenue commercial strip.” The Sun-Times is just plain wrong.
I have walked Devon from McCormick to Ridge many times over the past six months and tried to inventory the businesses that actually operate on the street. The task was more difficult than it should have been because of outdated signage as well as the papered and painted windows in some buildings and storefronts that make it hard to tell if a business actually exists, regardless of signage.
I suggest we lift our eyes from the street scape and look at the retailing experience these 24 blocks on Devon Avenue offer.
- Beauty shops 22
- Convenience Store/Grocery/General Merchandise 37
- Electronics/Cell Phone stores 20
- Medical (including 4 optometrists) 24
- Nonprofit/Religious Institutions 14
- Restaurants (other than fast food) 37
- Sari Shops 31
- Supermarkets 10
- Vacant Buildings 6
- Vacant Lots 2
- Vacant Restaurants 5
- Vacant Stores 30
Devon Avenue was once a middle-class shopping district. Now it is home to
- 47 stores whose primary business is selling groceries
- 37 restaurants, plus 4 fast food operations
- 34 storefronts occupied by medical businesses, nonprofit social services organizations, and religious institutions that generate no sales taxes (the exceptions being the 4 optometrists) and, in some cases, remove properties from the tax rolls
- 43 vacancies (stores, restaurants, buildings, lots)
This is what happens when the alderman fails to deliver an economic plan.
This is what happens when the Chamber of Commerce refuses to work with residents to develop a shopping district that meets community demands and needs and instead relies on nonresident shoppers for business.
This is what happens when business owners refuse to accept that there simply aren’t enough customers to support such an overwhelming number of outlets selling the same damn thing.
I don’t care how many endorsements Silverstein and the mayor buy. The 50th Ward needs new leadership.