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Goodwill wants to open a retail services center in Palos Heights

Palos Heights residents might get the chance to donate used clothing and small household items to a worthy cause if the City Council gives the thumbs up for a Goodwill drop-off donation center.

The center would be at 6541 W. 127th St. in Indian Trails Shopping Center, which has had a number of vacant storefronts during the rough economy.  The 1,100-square-foot site where Goodwill Retail Services wants to locate has been vacant for about five years.

Renee Bowerman, project manager for Goodwill, pointed out the city no longer allowed drop-off boxes where people could donate items and the planned center would be presentable from the street, with a counter near the front of the storefront.  The space would need to be renovated before the center could open.

Bowerman said proceeds support opportunities for people with disabilities or other disadvantages. 

“We really see this as an alternative [to drop-off boxes] for people to have the opportunity to make those donations,” said  Bowerman.  “We like to say we were “green” before “green” was in,” said Bowerman, referring to re-using dropped off items.

But not all alderman saw it that way during the April 3 City Council meeting, arguing that the space should be reserved for retail.  The center will be only for donations, with the items then sold at a site in Orland Park.  They voted 4 to 4 on allowing the attorney to draft an ordinance for a non-conforming use in a retail district, which will be voted on in a few weeks.  Mayor Bob Straz broke the tie, voting in favor.

“You bring nothing as far as retail to the city,” said Ald. Dolores Kramarski before the vote. 

“To turn around and sell it to another community, and they’re getting the [sales] tax dollars…is not right,” said Ald. Jeff Key.

Richard Carbonara, spokesman for the owner of the property, said after the meeting that he thought the center “would attract traffic to the mall.”

Straz said he agreed.

“They’re saying it will bring more people into that center made sense,” said Straz.  “It’s been a long time without anything there,” said Straz.


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