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Village flags parking spaces for merchants

Oak Lawn officials are hoping to lure a national restaurant chain to the village by reserving 20 spaces in the village parking garage for its customers.

The village board recently agreed to set aside 20 spaces on the first floor of the garage, which is located adjacent to the Metra station.

Village officials are hopeful the reserved parking will be enough to attract a restaurant to a long-vacant space in the strip at 52nd Street and Cicero Avenue.

The mall is home to the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Smashburger, PotBelly Sandwich Shop, two banks, a nail salon and a cell phone store.

“I’d really like to see that store front filled,” Mayor Sandy Bury said.

Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th), who voted against the proposal, said she has talked to several commuters who are opposed to the idea because it denies them prime first-floor parking.

“My big thing is, the commuters pay for the spots,” Quinlan said. “Does it really have to be on the first floor?”

Village manager Larry Deetjen said municipal garages often feature retail parking on the first floor while the remaining floors are reserved for commuters.

“It’s only 20 (spaces). They would have liked more,” Deetjen said. “Right now, parking is an issue. We are not parking friendly. That garage is under utilized. Let’s give it a shot.”

Deetjen said the first-floor spaces reserved for a restaurant will benefit all retailers in the area. He added that retail and restaurant patrons prefer assigned parking so they don’t have to search for a space.

Trustee Mike Carberry (6th) proposed reserving the entire first floor for retail use but agreed to start with the 20 spaces.

The garage has 822 spaces, but commuters use only 350 to 375 spaces each day. Employees of nearby restaurants and retailers also use the garage, but are encouraged to park on the top level.



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