The first decade of the new millennium is now under our belts, and it’s always worthwhile to consider where we’ve been. Flipping through the pages of past years, we found an editorial from the start of 2001. Madison Street was getting a more secure foothold, but the mall on Roosevelt continued to languish. At the time, we had our fingers crossed that Rev. Bill Winston could lead the charge and bring new business to this part of town.
And he did. The growth of Forest Park these last 10 years has been both remarkable and painful at times, but overall it has been successful. Here’s to a decade with fewer stumbles and all the spoils.
If the year 2000 was mostly about getting the new and improved Main Street (i.e. Madison Street) business district up and running, perhaps in the year 2001 we can look forward to similar progress over at Forest Park’s other major center of mercantile activity – the mall.
Last year must be assessed a success because of the improvements on Madison, but the mall has languished in limbo for years. A lot of people have come to think of it as the center of mercantile inactivity.
Expectations were raised a few years back when Rev. Bill Winston’s Living Word Church purchased the mall and promised great things in the future. Perhaps with local ownership at last, residents reckoned, there was reason to hope that maybe our moribund mall might experience a miraculous resurrection.
Then Dominick’s showed interest in building a store on the east end, and a refurbished auditorium on the south side raised hopes even higher. Wal-Mart is attracting shoppers and Portillo’s draws diners on the west end. The problem lies in the middle, which remains the great retail wasteland.
Frankly, the honeymoon is just about over. If this mall is going to rise from the dead, it needs to start showing signs of life this year.
If anyone can do it, Bill Winston can. He preaches the power of positive thinking and lifting yourself through the power of self-determination, judging by his large billboards over the Eisenhower. We hope he and his organization will apply some of that power to developing the mall in the coming year. With a vibrant mall and main street, Forest Park would once again be feeling the power of economic development.