Readers Discuss Whether or Not City, Property Owners Should Work Together

Thursday's article about Highland Park officials working to help property owners fill downtown vacancies prompted a lengthy discussion about if and how the city should help promote business.

Should the City of Highland Park be involved in helping property owners fill vacancies in the city's downtown?

If they choose to help, how much can they accomplish?

These were the questions on the minds of commenters after reading Thursday's story about how the recent closings of Corner Bakery, Stashs, M Restaurant and soon-to-be-closed Saks Fifth Avenue means Highland Park city officials are working with property owners to find new tenants. 

Some think that there's little the city can do to help when the success or failure of a business depends predominently on rent.

"When the landlords ask for outrageous rents which their tenants cannot afford then the properties will go empty," said bgguy in a comment. "There is nothing the city can or should do. It is the market at work. Rents will just have to come down."

Larry Hillman, a property owner who has helmed many events and initiatives to spur shopping in the city's downtown, called the city's assistance "overstepping."

"Before running everyone else's businesses the City needs to do a better job running their own," he said in the comments. "They need to stop trying to do the landlords job as the City is not properly motivated, funded or skilled to do so."

Forest Barbieri agreed that landlords should remain involved and proactive in the process of finding new tenants, but pointed to the good that comes with city involvement in business development.

"Having proactive city involvement is certainly a positive, especially relative to businesses that may not be desired," Barbieri said. 

Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther agreed with Barbieri that city involvement can help find the best tenants for a community.

"Communities play an important role in marketing their communities and assisting landlords in identifying potential tenants," Hainsfurther said. " I believe the best role a City can play is to be a good partner to the business community."

What do you think? Join the conversation by leaving your comments below, or click here to vote in Patch's poll.

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