Residents offer input during Harmony Square open house
Tinley Park residents are looking for harmony in a proposed downtown plaza.
To build on its new branding action plan, the Village of Tinley Park, joined by The Lakota Group representatives, hosted an open house Dec. 6 to gather ideas and answer questions raised by those on hand regarding Harmony Square, a potential plaza planned for the downtown area.
“The benefit for having this plaza is about creating quality of place, because when it comes to economic development, all the site selectors, the businesses out there are looking for workforce,” said Patrick Hoban, economic development manager for Village of Tinley Park. “When it comes to quality of workforce, they want quality of place. So, the real goal is if [your’re] riding by on a train and you’re seeing this brand-new plaza, we hope it’ll bring some more people in and also keep more people in the downtown area.”
Typically, when the Village hosts community events in the downtown area, it becomes necessary to shut down streets and redirect traffic to create a gathering place.
“It would just be nice to have a plaza to do more events,” Hoban said.
The open house created a space to highlight examples of successful public plazas based in Houston, Detroit, Forth Worth and San Antonio.
“I think the idea is to take the publicly owned land that we have on the north side of the street and look at all the amenities everyone likes in other communities, which is why we had that survey online, and try to [see] if we can mesh them all together, make it our own,” Hoban said. “I don’t think it’s just modeled after one. I do know that other communities that have a vibrant downtown normally have a gathering place like this. It can do wonders for your community. So, we’re really looking forward to kick-starting the downtown even further.”
Tinley Park’s downtown is approximately 0.8 square miles, and it consists of approximately 40 businesses focused primarily on providing services. The core of the remaining area in question, excluding the Oak Park Avenue train station, includes vacant land or surface parking lots.
A plaza, as conceptualized in different ways, is proposed for land generally bound between Oak Park Avenue, North and 173rd streets. The proposed area is included in a downtown tax increment financing district, and the Village wants this redevelopment tool to help pay for the project.
Earlier this year, Tinley Park adopted its branding action plan to guide the direction of its marketing and development activities. Part of the open house’s focus was meant to help the Village work toward incorporating some of those elements into Harmony Square.
Some conceptual drawings for the plaza included amenities such as an ice rink, stage, splash pad and a lawn.
“I think this is something that a lot of people can jump [behind,]” said Joe Ficaro, Jr., of Tinley Park. “There are a lot of people behind it. This is like the soul train. This concept, these ideas have a lot of soul to them.”
Tinley Park’s Patrick Leonard was motivated to attend the open house as a resident of the downtown area.
“I like that open lawn,” he said, referring to one of the conceptual drawings on display. “We need a gathering place. I’m just a little concerned that they want to build up too much, instead of keeping open space.”
Tinley Park already has several areas of focus in its downtown area, including the Oak Park Avenue train station and Midlothian Creek.
“It’s ambitious, and I think it’s actually going to be really good for Tinley Park, if it’s executed in the right way,” Leonard said of potential plans for Harmony Square.
Tinley Park officials intend to adopt a concept for the plaza as early as the summer of 2018.
For more information on the project, visit http://www.thelakotagroup.com/projects/tinley-park/.