A booster for new Hyde Park stores

To the Editor:

Hyde Park has been my home since 1999, when I moved here as a high school student with my mom. I loved it; it was a true community. All the kids grew up together, went to school together, played sports together and knew each other’s parents. And it was diverse, certainly more so than other parts of Chicago. When I went away to school at Howard University, I knew I would come back home to Hyde Park.

I did in 2008. I still loved my neighborhood, but as a young adult, I found that my needs had changed. Hyde Park did not offer all of the amenities, social opportunities, retail and entertainment preferences that suited my lifestyle. For those, I typically headed north, along with other Hyde Parkers of my generation.

That’s why I am excited about the redevelopment that’s been going on in Hyde Park, specifically along 53rd Street. While I miss some of the businesses that have now come and gone like Dixie Kitchen, there’s a new vibe that’s spreading throughout my community: Vibrancy. Things are changing, and as a single, 28 year-old sales professional who travels a lot for business, it’s great to know that when I am home, my options to shop, eat and play in Hyde Park are growing and becoming more varied.

I hope Hyde Park will always have the small businesses that have long been the fabric of our community. I think residents will demand it. We are what keeps a shop like the 57th Street Books going, while giant Borders folded. I am super-excited about Whole Foods coming, but not at the expense of Treasure Island. Diversity has always been what’s best about Hyde Park, and I think that includes diversity in retail — the right retail. To thrive economically, Hyde Park must offer places that appeal to its longtime residents, while giving millennials like me a reason to stay.

We still would like to see entertainment venues open up. But thanks to retailers like Ulta, Sir & Madame, a multi-screen theater and growing dining options, I’ve been heading north less and less. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Bediah Bell