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Lombard Town Centre's new executive director loves 'spirit of downtown'

LOMBARD – Sarah Richardt’s new job only can be loosely described as new.

She’ll be working about two blocks north of her previous job and cooperating with many of the same people. She’s used to working in an old home styled to match the Victorian period, but now she’ll set up shop in a purple, lilac-decked office as she makes the transition from the senior programming coordinator of the Lombard Historical Society to the executive director of the Lombard Town Centre.

Richardt, 43, has lived in Lombard with her husband, Dan, and their teenage daughters for 14 years. She began her job with the Lombard Historical Society in 2009.

Last year, when the Lombard Town Centre was hiring for the executive director position, Richardt applied, was interviewed and was the runner-up candidate. She didn’t get the job, but when the downtown organization decided to rehire for the position earlier this month, she was the first pick.

“(The board) wanted someone quickly so that business owners didn’t lose any services and the village didn’t lose any connection with downtown,” she said.

She was approached by the town center’s president, Walter Smith, to fill the position and began working as interim director July 8. In a whirlwind month, her last day at the historical society is Aug. 9, and she begins as official director of the Lombard Town Centre on Aug. 12.

“I loved the spirit of downtown,” she said. “I just think it’s cool. I like it down here. I like the history, I like the business owners.”

One of the things she said she’s most looking forward to is strengthening existing partnerships in town and developing new ones. Previously, the Lombard Town Centre and Lombard Historical Society have partnered together for multiple events, sometimes with the help of the library and park district.

“I’m excited about getting the whole village excited about downtown,” she said.

In the past year, downtown Lombard has gotten a mini face lift as businesses such as Shannon’s Deli, The Vino Cellar and others have settled into the storefronts along St. Charles Road and Park Avenue. Downtown Lombard’s newest business, Deer Fina, a women’s clothing boutique, opened just days ago.

“I think a lot people think it’s because of one person,” Richardt said. “It’s not. It’s a combination of board efforts and the village.”

As the new executive director, she said she’s nervous about being able to effectively respond to the requests and demands of so many people, as the position dictates. At the same time, she’s eager to continue building and promoting the downtown, and developing a destination point for residents.

“I want all of Lombard to buy into the Lombard Town Centre,” she said. “You have these great business owners, and it just spirals. They’re being more self-sufficient. The business owners are leading the charge. They’re saying, ‘This is the quality we want for Lombardians.’”

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