We all spend a lot of time staring at the near-100,000-square-foot retail space at the western edge of the Forest Park Plaza mall. We stare at it when it's up and running. We stare even more when it goes through its shuttered eras.
It was Venture. It was nothing. It was Kmart. And then for nearly three years already, it has been nothing again. But now, starting this week, it will be HOBO, Home Owners Bargain Outlet.
Honestly, we've never set foot in a HOBO, weren't exactly sure what it is we'd expect to find inside its half dozen locations spread across Chicago's exurbs. Well, it is, we've found out, furniture, kitchen and bath, home décor and flooring. It is one of those retailers expert at corralling bargains from manufacturers. So you know you'll find kitchen cabinets but not necessarily the manufacturer you had expected.
We're glad to see the store filled. We're happy to report that there are no sales tax givebacks or other municipal concessions demanded by this family-owned business. And we'll be glad when the sales tax revenue again flows to village government. Forest Park needs that revenue and, in a moment when retail is tough to find, HOBO is a worthy addition to Forest Park.
More good news in a week where Amazon took over Whole Foods: Both Mayor Anthony Calderone and Administrator Tim Gillian report that there is sincere interest in the now vacant Ultra Foods space further east in the mall. And that interest is from a grocer. Both acknowledge that a deal is far from certain. But that interest is encouraging.
Carousel goes around
Better than a century ago, Forest Park was known for its cemeteries and its amusement park. Both made this village a destination for people across Chicagoland. One of the primary attractions at the amusement park was its fabulous carousel — it's got 32 jumpers, 16 standers and two chariots.
That carousel has had a long and twisted ride since the amusement park opened in 1908 and closed after a fire in 1922. As we report today, it was shipped back to its manufacturer in Philadelphia for repair. It turned up a year later at the city fairgrounds in Memphis, made its way to an amusement park in Memphis for 30 years and has been in storage since 2005.
Three years back, the children's museum in Memphis leased it and shipped it to Marion, Ohio for restoration. It will make its debut at the museum in November.
Forest Parker Ken Knack has been following the progress. In a recent Facebook post, he floated the idea of locals "adopting" one of the carousel horses, paying for its restoration at $4,500. That would put a Forest Park marker back on "our" horse which would be wonderfully appropriate.
There are 15 horses still available, according to museum officials. We need someone to create the GoFundMe page. The mayor is ready to contribute. Other businesses have piped up. And count the Review among them.