Today the village bookstore has turned off its “open” sign. It is now in the same state as is the Sunrise project on Capitol Drive where the restaurant once stood, now defunct.
The condominium project toward the north end of Shorewood on Oakland showed early signs of incompatibility with the economic trends. Signs on that property seem to have been put up oblivious of what the economy was doing or in spite of it.
The Zion property, seemed to have been acquired some years ago for some other purpose than its present parking function on Oakland. Parking however, appears a reasonable transition while waiting for built development. Each of these projects are unrelated to each other but are in a common type coma.
Is there anything that can be done besides waiting for the economy to recover? Will any of the patients ever be the same? And will these projects still be compatible to the new economy that will arise at an undetermined time?
The City of Rotterdam in Holland was confronted with a similar but a greater problem after World War II. Glendale's shopping district, in more recent years was also confronted with the question of where to go from here? Both decided to start anew.
Maybe Shorewood should start anew. We might begin by asking the purpose of our existence. Village is not only a legal designation but what this community has always wanted to become, an urban village. That is our purpose.
The question is, now that we are practically fully developed and we are in some cases in the process of redevelopment, how do we take our existing form more into the direction of developing a village?
Perhaps we can never become similar to a 17th century village, especially European villages which began forming for centuries before that time. But our notion of an urban village can take us way beyond merely being a suburb.
Our location and our beginning, adjacent to the the city itself served as a way in forming the city's extension. Today we have defined boundaries and our own government.
We are old enough to have all three generations present and now in the modern world even the fourth generation.
We even have what is considered to be a “rooted” population, that is people who have lived here most of their lives and some even returning to live here.
What we do not have is the economy that would keep most of our population here and in the nearby fields. Most of those living here are engaged in what today we call the global economy.
But we seem then to have the basic social elements that provide the village services for those living here and those passing through.
It seems then that we should concentrate on those village forming elements in our process of redevelopment.
Neither our lake or our river contribute to commercial aspects of the village. Our greatest social and commercial base is the University. It serves as the field next to us.
And Milwaukee is the doorway to the rest of the world.
Knowing all this, shouldn't we take advantage of our location and position as we begin to start anew. We can develop our economic base attached to a modern city and to a developing university.
I believe that we should be studying the specific ways for doing this. These may give purpose to and affect the way we develop the “business district” and the way we continue working toward developing our village.