Published May 6, 2010
Preserving downtown's charm will take
local dollars and sense
support for downtown Hinsdale’s business district at the
April 20 Hinsdale Village Board meeting was inspiring.
Just read through some of these comments.
Karl Weber: “It is that historic downtown and our good
school system that makes Hinsdale one of the priciest
suburbs in the Chicagoland area, and if we lose that
(National Register Historic District) designation, I
think we’ll all pay in reduction of property values.”
“As Karl said, this really is our heritage, it is
our brand, it is our way of life. It absolutely supports
our property values. It’s something that, once it
erodes, it’s gone forever.”
“We all long for a vibrant commercial district in the
center of town.”
“I feel strongly that the downtown is a wonderful
Gonzalez: “Please preserve Hinsdale.”
These folks all
left village hall, we imagine, confident that the
board’s decision to lower the maximum allowed building
height will in fact preserve the downtown.
We are not so certain.
We agree the downtown has a beautiful, historic feel that should be
maintained. We love working here. But we also know this
is not a movie set or a stretch of Main Street in Disney
World. It has do to more than look pretty. It has to
function commercially, and in order to thrive, it needs
Ask any store owner in town and they’ll tell you a significant
percentage of their business comes from people who live
someplace else. And while we don’t expect any shop to
survive on Hinsdale customers alone, we do believe
merchants deserve more support from residents.
Years ago when residents were working to save the Hinsdale Theatre,
one said she liked the idea of a theater in town but
didn’t want to have to go it. That comment still leaves
We’ve written before and will continue to write about all the good
reasons to support Hinsdale businesses. But this week we
also offer a challenge to all those who lobbied the
village board to change the zoning code last month: drum
up the same support for shopping in town that you did
for the text amendment.
On the night of April 20 alone organizers submitted 100 e-mails in
support of the cause. Could they encourage 100 people
who don’t shop downtown to do so?
We appreciate Bohnen’s willingness to serve on the historic
preservation commission and that group’s efforts to help
downtown building owners learn more about the tools
available (grants, tax breaks) for sprucing up their
buildings. An attractive downtown by definition is more
likely to attract new stores and restaurants.
But what really gets potential tenants interested is traffic —
people walking up and down the streets carrying shopping
bags, restaurant tables filled at lunch and drivers
circling the block looking for a place to park.
If the downtown is to be preserved, more people need to get down
here and patronize its merchants and encourage their
friends and neighbors to do the same. Talk is cheap. And
it doesn’t pay the rent in that charming, historic