DOWNERS GROVE – Five years after the recession, the business and economic climate in Downers Grove continued to improve in 2013 with dozens of new businesses opening or relocating to the village in the last 12 months.
New faces in Downers Grove ranged from major corporate headquarters to new boutiques downtown and restaurants and auto dealers on Ogden Avenue.
The first big office space announcement of last year was Advocate Healthcare’s new 140,000-square foot office. It was followed by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy’s $20 million, 42,000 square-foot headquarters, Invesco PowerShares’ 100,000-square-foot regional headquarters and Danish water pump manufacturer Grundfos’ new, 11,000-square-foot North American headquarters, among others.
“We were pretty pleased with how the year went,” said Downers Grove Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Michael Cassa. “There’s no question that we’re seeing more businesses opening and leased space being taken than we did in 2012, which was better than 2011.”
When the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy was looking for a location to build their new facility, Downers Grove’s proximity to interstates 355 and 88, and relatively close distance to O’Hare and Midway airports played a large role, CEO Patricia Blake said.
ASGE is a professional organization for physicians who perform endoscopic procedures such as a colonoscopy. The new facility combines office space for its staff, along with auditoriums and state-of-the-art training facilities.
Blake said the retreat-like setting of the building – it’s on a small lake near a forest preserve – was desirable for physicians who travel to the center for training and conferences. Previously, ASGE was split between office space in Oak Brook and a small training facility in Westmont.
“When the physicians come here they can relax and learn,” she said.
In addition to new buildings like ASGE’s, Cassa said there’s less vacant existing retail and office space than in previous years, reflecting higher demand, though some businesses did close their doors in 2013, including Dominick’s, My Favorite Toy Store, Paperworks and Consider It Done, among others.
On the retail side, village sales tax figures show a strengthening local economy.
Through the first three quarters of 2013 – the most recent data available, the village received about $8.9 million in sales taxes, compared to $8.5 million through the same time period the previous year, according to the village.
The figure for the first three quarters was about $8.1 million in 2011, and about $7.9 million in both 2010 and 2009.
Diners in Downers Grove have several new options, including House of Sushi, 950 Warren Ave.; Barbakoa, 1341 Butterfield Road; and Baked Apple Breakfast, 1224 Ogden Ave., among others. Those who prefer to cook at home or take out items can shop at the new Shop & Save Market at 7241 Lemont Road.
Locals like Jenny Tenorio opened their own businesses in Downers Grove as well. She opened her new children’s consignment store, Charlie & Grace, 937 A Curtiss St., in September.
“I live a few blocks away,” she said. “So when this spot became available, I jumped at the chance to open a shop here.
“It is a vibrant downtown. Even as cold as it’s been these last few days, they love to walk downtown and shop downtown.”
Before opening her storefront, Tenorio grew her customer base by renting out venues for seasonal pop-up shops.
“It’s been very well received and I’m super grateful for that,” she said. “They’re looking for quality clothes, and I sell only brand-name clothing.”
Another new downtown business owner, Amy Brown of Westmont, opened Evelyn Jane Boutique at 1008 Curtiss St. in April. Like Tenorio, she was taken by the downtown’s shopping environment.
“I feel like there is a great sense of community here,” she said.