53rd Street News

53rd St. News, Visioning 53rd Street and TIF: News, planning and redevelopment thoughts, of "other voices" and controversies

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Development Zoning and Preservation task force, and its website, www.hydepark.org. Help support our work as watchdog, forum and clearing house: Join the Conference.


Special Service District 61 Commission meets 3RD WEDNESDAYS at Polsky Conference room 1452 E. 53rd St. Meetings are open to the public. 2 meetings a quarter are at 11 am and the third at 7 pm.


Check these websites: http://fiftythird.uchicago.edu (and subscribe to blog there), downtownhydeparkchicago.com (going live mid September 2015), secc-chicago.org.

Transportation and parking are important to our business and community and development and safety- SECC and an advisory council, funded by U of C, contracted with TY Linn to conduct a study. The findings and strategies were unveiled at the July 24 2014 TIF meeting. Next steps and actions will be worked out by SECC, meetings with the city, and public forums. Find the report and Power Point in http://www.secc-chicago.org. This site will summarize key findings in our Parking page and Transitweb home. The study found basically that the community and developers need to make more efficient use of current resources- the situation is most prmising neasr curent tdransi, but not so good farther away where on street parking is heavily used and there is not private lots that can be shared.
October 29 there was a follow up showing design and efforts to resolve remaining concerns. Parking and traffic remain concerns.

June 14, 2017 a public meeting was held to introduce a Phase 2 buildout of Harper Court. Polsky Center will expand and include both fabrication and office spaces for post-startup enterprises and for business/ corporations seeking proximiity to the innnovation center, as well as pop up and other additional retail. Idtwill include 16 stories built upon the north platform on Lake Park (north of the tall UC building) and a short building replacing the Park 52 building and (it was unclear) atop the north block of Harper Court stores. Parking will be expanded. Reception was mixed, with business being enthusiastic both in general and because this would increase denisty and keep growing firms from relocating out of Hyde Park. Some persons preferred these firms be dispersed through the South Side. Others worried about traffic and other congestion and density. Some wanted the change to fix problems with Harper Court and urged more opportunities for small local businesses. Also noted was that the original concept for a phase 2 was that it be for housing, particularly affordable housing. The teams will be coming back frequently with updates and for input.

Under construction is the Boutique hotel at 53rd adn Dorchester. Approved: Mixed use but mostly residential high rise at 53rd and Cornell.


May 6 2013 HPKCC HELD A zoning and 53rd St. forum With panel of experts and Q and A- Planning and Zoning Speakers include John Norquist of Congress for the New Urbanism Tim Barton, Hyde Parker and former city zoning staff), and Adam Kingsley of O'Donell law firm specializing in the issues and 53rd St. Release with description. A REPORT IS POSTED. The Plan Commission approved the proposal May 16.

August 15 2013 The U of C held a community meeting on Hyde Park. There were reports and updates on many topics. Most questioners iter gave suggestions or criticized UC priorities or performance including on 53rd St. One topic was the future of buildings the university had recently purchased and appeared to be emptying out the tenants. Shortly afterwards, several spaces were filled including with "pop-ups" to test the market. Others were said by the University to require extensive renovation. Jonathan Dennis of UC Real Estate Operations answered in a Aug. 28 Herald letter the Herald's interpretaion from the Aug. 15 meeting asserting the UC had "no plans" for such buildings. Here is Mr. Dennis' letter.

Your Aug. 21 article "U. of C. denies plnas or site" misrepresents my comments about the Schuster Building [sw corner of 53rd and Harper] in a way that confuses the isseu. As the Herald previously reported, the university is planning a thorought renovaiton of the building, which is in need of repairs. The long-term goals of that project are clear--we hope to see successful retailers on the first floor who can add to the vibrancy of 53rd Street an meet the expressed needs and interests of the community. The second floor wil be used for office space, which we hope can similarly contribute tot he vitality of the neighborhood.
As we have for other properties owned by the university, we wil work hard to seek tenants who an best contribute to those goals. It woudl be inappropriate, and make it much harder to get good tenants, if we were to speculate about tenants before we have reached agreements. Finally,... the university has worked with existing tenants either to help them remain in hte building during renovations or to identify appropriate locations in other buildings.

Nevertheless, numerous bloggers continue to say the University has not offered support or help to local stand-alone businesses to stay in place and is promoting a change to chains that do not contribute to the retail mix. A rising issue is affordability, especially for retail, and the right retail balance. Good article in the March 24, 2014 Tribune-- time for another forum with experts?

It seems to be a struggle for small businesses to stay on 53rd St and to strke the right retail balance. This may be subject of a public forum with experts.


TBA: Regular TIF meeting. Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone.

This Page's index
Visit for more: Development Hot Topics.
New! SSA District. More, updates in the Business Climate page and pages navigated from Development home. See also What's in Play and the Development Committee. 53rd TIF home. More from TIF Advisory Council meetings minutes. Visit Harper Court home: more! Harper Area RFP Guidelines.
Read 2000 A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District. Checkerboard Lounge. HP Theater, Theater RFP. Harper Court home. 53rd Mobil, Village Center, Antheus. Development and Policy. Business Climate.
Zoning Reform home. History and Preservation. Community and Neighborhood News. Urban Renewal/redevelopment Timeline. See also Business and Students. Metra-Lake Park and other streetscape.
(Shortcut to analysis/position papers by Spicer, Lesniewski) Prelim. results Harper Ct. Survey: http://www.hydepark.org/survey.

Website of the 53rd St. Vision process: http://secc-chicago.org/secc_chicago/news/news_moreinfo.cfm

See 53rd McMobil page for proposed development in the 1300 block north side. UC info link
http://news.uchicago.edu/behind-the-news/building-property-development/53rd-street or http://53.secc-chicago.org/.
This project was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission in May 2013 and by City Council June 5.


The following appears to have been put out by South East Chicago Commission. Here it is a paraphrase of as from 1537 News.

1. Mobil station closes Aug. 12

2. tank et al removal starts Aug. 13

3. parking lot to east remains in public use as is

4. expect traffic tie ups all along 53rd, esp. until Harper Court is further along

5. Pedestrians use south sidewalk on 53rd near the project

6. 250+ rental units (upscale) and 220 parking spaces

7. The project uses no TIF money or public subsidy and may bring $7.7 million in

8. Retail space- is limited, those interested should contact the developer now

9. construction of the new building will start early 2014

10. questions- http://53.secc-chicago.org, http://53.secc-chicago.org/v1/share (including for contacting).


Vermilion/ Harper Court Partners refines plans, started work for Harper Court Area/53rd Lake Park, some financial questions. See in Harper Ct. Sale. Presentation meeting Feb. 8. Akira coming to Borders
July 12 2010 Harper presentation and request for TIF funds.

About Clarke's on 53rd. February 13, 2012

Renderings of proposed former Borders facade

See a video from Medill School of Journalism on the Theater and its renovation, January 2012. http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=199168.

53rd TIF 2010 report: Direct: bodyhttp://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/tif/10reports/T_105_53rdAR10.pdf. Or go to City Hall room 1006.

Article in June 2011 Reporter on saving Harper Theater shows how preservation and development can work together

-Dec. 2007 Vision Workshop- text in Vision page, orig. in http://www.vision58.org
To From final report of Dec. 8 2007 Workshop. More reports at http://www.vision53.org/12.html.

-May 3rd 2008 Workshop page:
To Notes on May 3 Vision Workshop II.

Pics turned in at the May Workshop: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26852843@N07/
View G. Rumsey's pics of the May Workshop at http://picasaweb.google.com/crcrumsey/53rdStreetVisionWorkshop.

-Nov 15 2008 block exercise report- 53rd Vision Report Nov. 2008 iss'd Jan. 12 09 (see also http://www.vision53.org)
See pics from the Nov. 15 Block exercise: picasaweb.google.com/crcrumsey/53rdStreetVisionsBLOCKS or http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/DK_JZJ9p9XK0utKiVEvRug

-April 21 2012 53rd Visioning Workshop is below

To Announcement of and link to Harper Court Area RFQ/RFP, released by City of Chicago and University of Chicago December 12, 2008
HPKCC Dec. 2008 Letters to Ann Marie Lipinski of U of C and Ald. Preckwinkle on development and 53rd St. issues.

To University of Chicago's news and blog site on 53rd and Harper Court - http://fiftythird.uchicago.org. Includes a place (scroll to near bottom) to ask your questions to or download FAQ's by the University on 53rd and Harper Court, including the Theater. Info is by UC Civic Engagement Office (contact Susan Campbell) and UC News Office ( Kadesha Thomas News Officer, who maintains the site).


Borders updates, and Five Guys, 5 SCREEN THEATER;
2011 review- the year all the talk started to be seen on the ground, University's role
An Overview from the Trib Feb. 2012

Borders gone was firstfruits increment for TIF- NOW BOUGHT BY U OF C and bringing Akira clothing, UC TO SEARCH FOR RETAIL WITH RFP FOR MIXED USE PD OF MOBIL/FORMER MCDONALDS.
UC buys once Woolworth's 1451 53rd, bringing in Clarke's 14-7 diner
Theater in full renovation to include Five Guys hamburger, 5-screen theater- see more in Theater
Harper Court Area More(incl. 53rd and Lake Park lot) in city process after TIF funding approval. See Harper Court.
Is there a larger roadmap? somewhat; news bits (McMobil bought; Vermilion chosen for Harper Ct.)
, Transit Oriented Development and HP.
Details on Nov. 15 block planning exercise
University buys, empties Hollywood Video next to Harper Court/City lot
Animal Clinic going to Freehling's , South Shore. Zoning Committee approves changes, next is full council
Latest Harper Court
Other new

May 22, Wednesday, 6:45 pm. Introduction meeting for proposed Hyde Park Special Service tax district (SSA). Kenwood Academy? 5015 S. Blackstone.



Chipotle restaurant (open)
Ja'Grill (Jamaican, seeking liquor license, to open soon)
LA Fitness (open)
Native Foods (native and Porkchop have yet to pass city inspections and are seeking liquor licenses- expect to open in mid March)
Park Tavern (the one in Rosemont, not Park 52. http://parktavernrosemont.com)-This pulled out of Harper Court and the space may well be subdivided for soft retail such as clothing unless another upscale restaurant is quickly found)
Red Balloon (upscale children's clothing) to open soon
Red Mango frozen yogurt chain to ope soon
Sir and Madame to move from 53rd St. to Harper Court
Starbucks (open)
ULTA beauty shop and supplies (open)
Porkchop (so. and barbecue themed) open
Villa Sneakers
(on Lake Park, open)

Promontory with music venue The Point (1539 E. 53rd) expects to open in June
Yusho (53d/Kimbark) is slated to open in the fall of 2014.
Ribs 'N Bibs closed in May, may well be permanent

The University of Chicago now owns: the Schuster building at the sw corner of 53rd and Harper and the former Starbucks building at the northeast corner, and one or two more further west on 53rd near Dorchester.

The University announced in October 2013 tht the upper floors of the Herald and Schuster building (recently acquired by U of C) at 53rd and Harper will host an entrepreneurial/ innovations incubator with several other institutions including Argonne National Laboratory. Spinoffs are hoped by various parties to include more foot traffic and possibly more startups for 53rd St.
The University has brought in several short-term-trial startups into various of the buildings it now owns on the street, including that at the northeast corner of 53rd and Harper. Some businesses have been displaced altogether or to other nearby locations. Espeacially filling in are both sides of Harper north of 53rd.

The University, SECC, and 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns inaugurated a Parking and Transportation Study Committee, with broad representation from community organizations. Pedestrian and all-modes friendliness, and determination of real parking needs with development in progress or planned in the 53rd Ellis to S Hyde Park Blvd. and Lake Park E. Hyde Park to 55th St. corridors that are the main focus. The committee commissioned a study from T.Y. Lin that is expected to be finished by early 2014, with public meetings on any recommendations to be held in February.

Nonetheless, rumors get started at various times, including one at the end of October 2013 concerning a putative proposal to turn part of 53rd St. into a pedestrian mall. The material related to that was promptly pulled from SECC/UC administered or related websites and repudiated by U of C and SECC spokespersons.

Expected to open very soon (in addition to Ulta beauty, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotel, AT&T, and a large tennis shoe and more store) are Mr. Merges' north Italian style A10 restaurant at 53rd and Harper, Chipotle close to Lake Park, Porkchop and J'a Grill in Harper Court, and Promontory in the former Borders building. Further down 53rd, a dollar grocery has opened.

Vue53 is expected to move ahead with the demolition phase despite a lawsuit in progress.

1301 53rd/Kimbark building (former Third World Cafe and scheduled to be a Merges restaurant): THE ZONING CHANGE WAS DONE BUT THE PETITION TO "UN-DRY" THE PRECINCT WAS TURNED DOWN BY CITY CLERK LATE MARCH BECAUSE THE BOUNDARIES WERE INACCURATELY DESCRIBED, in effect agreeing with the lawsuit filed by Thomas Pinales and Jane Averrill March 22. The petitio wil hvae to be cirulated again. The denied petition got 60 of 79 registered voters (53 required for a flat overturn of the dry condition), thoughthe lawsuit also said there were invalid signatures. The lawsuit filers complained that the University was hasty and underhanded in handling of this and that it is proposing much too much too fast without either a general plan for 53rd St. or the university revealing its overall plan.
The proposal to make space for Merges Co. Yoshu Restaurant 1) was shown in an article in the Maroon's Grey City Journal to be after the University would not negotiate with Robust Cafe or others to come to the former Third World Cafe site and 2) somehow neglected to reveal that he space is in dry precinct. Peculiarities of owner vs rental property in the precinct allowed the University to gather a limited number of signatures (2/3 being required) so that after a waiting period the original "dry" vote was overturned. This may not be the last word.

Closing January 9- Park 52, which was an early trophy development by the University at Harper Court. This highly prized restaurant says it succombed to the recession and other problems- certainly including its isolation by construction and need to rely on valet parking, at which many people going to expensive restaurants balk. Believed-to-be-reliable information also indicates the UC/Harper Court lessors could or would not offer space at anything like what such a restaurant can pay, which could bode further problems with major new developments in this area.

Some thoughts on the Oct. 15 4th Ward meeting on 53rd St. and other matters.

At the end of the meetng, there was an overlaying discussion of possibilities of a special taxing district that could answer complaints during the Theater presentation (by the 400 New person (Mr. Fox)) -- complaints being that one of the problems of the former theater was mess and rats, Ald. Burns saying a SSA could bring back something like Cleanslate, and parking (the criticism from some attendees to every agenda item) with the Ald. saying a main purpose of an SSA would be to have trolleys and other ways to move people on 53rd with fewer cars. An interesting thing proposed was having parking on either end of 53rd and trolleys going back and forth. This in turn was tied into controversy over the one of the two new restaurants-- the one where Third World Cafe was, with several people trying to say that 53rd from Kenwood to Woodlawn is "residential" and its residential character would be destroyed by re-zoning the University's Third World/Barbara Currie etc. building at Kimbark. (The restaurant seemed to this reporter GMO to be rather small and modest and with only ancillary liquor, not the maximum usage the new zoning would allow.) The upshot is that there will be a neighbors meeting with Mr. Merges and the Alderman about these changes. (Mr. Merges' other restaurant will be in the Theater-Herald bldg. Harper corner.)
The theater's plans looked really interesting and present plans met with no criticism except for not providing their own parking when Harper Court seems to add little parking beyond for its own needs. They promised to have a thorough program for cleaning up around the outside.

There was really little discussion of SSA, just as something the Ald. is going to propose.

There was a very contentious opposition to expanding Ancona School and its drop off, with others supporting the school-- about half the overcrowd was there for that. I arrived from our meeting about half way through the Ancona discussion and missed the presentation.

Litehouse Whole Food Grill.

Did not open- what's going on? "Open October 23 2012 at 1373 E. 53rd St. as well as in the South Loop and Lincoln Park later. Eric Nance, local.
It will cater to vegetarian, gluten-free and organic needs, and to get them fast. The store will participate in charities and have the restaurant open to community organizations and activists to meet and use Friday night until Saturday evening."

Coming in 2013 to join Akira clothing in the former Borders, 1539 E. 53rd St." The Promontory-- music club, bar and hearth-centered restaurant. Owners: Bruce Finkelman (Empty Bottle, Longman & Eagle, Beauty Bar) and Craig Golden (SPACE, UNION, Longman and Eagle). Chef: Jared Wentworth (who has earned Michelin stars two years in a row for Longman and Eagle). SPACE and Empty Bottle are hopping folk, avant-garde, and pop venues.

Longman & Eagle Team
Opening The Promontory
in Hyde Park in Early 2013
Hyde Park is about to get a shot in the arm when the Promontory, a new restaurant, bar and concert venue, opens in early 2013.
Even more exciting is the team behind the project: Longman & Eagle owners Bruce Finkelman (Empty Bottle, Bite Cafe), Craig Golden (Evanston's Space and Union Pizza) and chef Jared Wentworth will helm the kitchen.

At this point, much of the details, including the type of cuisine, have not yet been revealed. But seeing as L&E is Michelin-starred and Wentworth has been much heralded, it stands that this new restaurant, with a "hearth-driven kitchen," will likely gain a lot of attention. Should we expect a lot of grilled and smoked meats?

The Promontory, named for the nearby Promontory Point in Lake Michigan, is set to be part of the 53rd Street revitalization project, which already has a new Clarke's diner and Five Guys Burgers, and adjacent Harper Court project.
The addition of another quality restaurant attached to a music venue, will not only give South Siders (in particular University of Chicago folk) a place to hang, it could help make the area more of a destination.

Also joining Akira and Promontory in the former Borders will be CorePower Yoga (above Akira) in mid 2013.

Kilwins chocolate and ice cream has come in north of the Theater.

Closing January 9- Park 52, which was an early trophy development by the University at Harper Court. Thsi lhighly prised restaurant says it succombed to the recession and other problems- certainly its isolation by construction included.

Bought and to be managed from outside- Hyde Park Bank by Wintrust (about 10 times larger). The bank will remain largely separately managed (and keep its names and branches) under Wintrust subsidiary Beverley Bank. Added products and ability to do transactions at other Wintrust sites are expected.

Matthias Merges will open a Med-So. France restaurant in the corner of the Herald-Theater building and a Japanese street food Yusho restaurant at 53rd and Kimbark-- the latter has raised some concerns as the UC owned building will seek upzoning.

Harper Court and 53rd/51st TIFs
Signed tenants:
LA Fitness
Chipotle restaurant (earlier)
(the next 3 September 2012) Park Restaurant (one in Rosemont, not Park 52. http://parktavernrosemont.com)
Ja' Grill (one on Armitage in Lincoln Park. http://www.jagrill.com)
Starbucks (whether replacing the one at 53rd and Harper not known)
ULTA beauty shop and supplies (90.4% lease mark)

The city was to come to the TIF meeting September 10 2012 with firm numbers on impact of a spit off of the City Hyde Park development tax PINS into its own 23-year TIF, how much compensation for lost CHP 2001-present City Hyde Park increment will be needed from CHP owner Silliman/Antheus as compensation to the remaining 53rd TIF, and how the TIFs look financially (including how much might be left over in the 51st. THAT MEETING WAS CANCELLED. MEANWHILE THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION GAVE ITS ADMINISTRATATIVE APPROVAL (ALL NEC.) TO THE SPLIT OFF OF VILLAGE WHICH MET 6 OF 13 CRITERIA FOR A TIF-- which will expire at the same time as the 53rd).

At the July 9 TIF meeting, the council approved the process of splitting off the City Hyde Park (51st/Lake Park) pins into a separate TIF. As Antheus would reimburse the TIF for the loss of increment revenue, any impact for 53rd and its tif remained neutral to uncertain; details remained in discussion. More in Harper and City Hyde Park pages. (53rd and proposed 51st TIFs, Harper Court and Hyatt Hyde Park (Smart/Olympia Hotels) and City Hyde Park subsidy are very hot with a segment of the community and some outside groups. Occupy spin off demonstrations are planned for Harper and Hyatt and various labor and money-to-schools only groups are making the rounds with informationals about all three. Hyde Park Herald editorial asked for examination of ability of the tifs to come up with the public benefits on which the community had originally be sold on tifs, and a letter questioned developers' commitment and care for this neighborhood.) The Herald editorial in the August 1 2012 issue said there is now no doubt that the purpose of the 53rd/51st TIFs is now to bring only development. None is left even for CARA streetcleaning and workforce development, nothing for schools, and no infrastructure and parking not directly related to developments. Thus, promises are not fulfilled. The editorial called for the alderman and council to take a pause to evaluate what exactly the TIF is for.

AT THE MAY 2012 TIF MEETING, the University (lead Joe Antunovich of Antunovich and Associates, with attorney Danielle Meltzer-Cassel) discussed splitting the former Borders building into FOUR separate retail spaces and complete redesign and replacement of the exterior- BY OCTOBER 2012. (Said by the architect to encourage people to come and stay and bring it into line with Harper Court, but others have opined it resembles a waffle house. Rectangle with zinc panels, full glass front and back, no setback on 2nd story.) Akari will have 7,605 sf or th 23,000, southwest first floor wil have 3,778, 2nd floor will have two spaces of 6,990 in front and 4,347 in the rear. Questions were asked about traffic, parking, trash pickup, and types of tenants. Renderings
Presumably rezoning Borders from B-1-B-3 was recommended by the council.
Also: supported by Burns to start the process on exploration, creating an SSA special taxing district.
The discussion of the Borders renovation project continued in more detail at an open TIF committee meeting May 29. Attendees seemed to be satisfied that care is being taken with the various aspects.

Here is a brief summary of the presentation by Antunovich, UC Hennessy and Metzger-Cassel: The present shell does not fit with retail needs (esp. the style of Akira stores) and seems be heavy and say "stay away"- especially the south end, and does not fit the design of the new Harper Court, or even the bank. Windows will be closer to ground to ceiling, transparent for wares display , and a continous glass where possible. The whole 53rd facade will be set back more from the sidewalk- and even more the northwest corner, but the 2nd floor will now be flush with the first. The non glass parts will be zinc-tone with inset grooves emphasizing horizontality. Four tenants of different footprints are anticipated. Some mistakes are being corrected such as utility and disposal placements at the south end, lack of an Old Lake Park elevator and stair lobby and separate deliveries door, and parking/ lot configuration and navigation. Signage will be improved. Some cannot be corrected, such as the emergency stairs on the corners. The roof will be white. They are negotiating with the city on placement of sidewalk utilities. there will be some street furniture. One object is to improve the pedestrian and retail interface between Lake Park/Metra and the Bank and between Harper Court towards Hyde Park Shopping Center.

There continues to be differences in speculation as to whether Akira is what Hyde Park needs and will be successful here.

June 2012 update. As far as we know, there was no additional TIF Advisory Council consideration of $5.2M amendment to the redevelopment agreement-- to give subsidy to the Hotel after the overall vote in 2010 for a subsidy of $23.2- the Hotel at some point was pulled out of the whole. The Finance Committee and City Council in May-June 2012 approved the amendment for the hotel.

Losses on 53rd: Third World Cafe. Apartment Finders moved to vacant 1740 E. 55th.

Brief report on the April 21, 2012 53rd Visioning Workshop. Well over 100 attended. The 2008-09 workshops conclusions were reviewed and the stage was set by powerpoint walk through of the street on three topics for workshops: the McMobil site (called the "gap tooth in the smile") as a new anchor for the west half of the street, Nichols Park (itself and as linking and connecting with 53rd and 55th Streets, and how to improve the feel and infrastructure of 53rd Street. Jim Hennessy of U of C. and consultant Neil Kitredge discussed each of the major sections and university properties of the street (including that Harper Court is 82% leased, Borders will have a new skin, the bicycle rental place, the 324 foot gap at McMobil. They note the architecture is varied and should be, the spaces (dots) are poorly connected, problems with pedestrian experience and furniture/streetscape, and the street missing its opportunity to act as a "glue.". Nichols was said to be at the center and thus offer major opportunity to correct some of the problems and a mix of active and passive experiences.

One of the stated purposes of the visioning was so the three selected competing developers of McMobil (north side of the 1300 block of 53rd St. and nicknamed for present and a former business there) could hear views and suggestions of residents and business persons. (All three were present.) Not surprisingly, the breakout group for McMobil was the largest. A sizable number in this group thought that something other than a building, or even a better gas station, could be there. Others concentrated on what kind of medium-sized national store(s) could go with the expected mix of graduate and market housing, and how to place and mass these. But many seemed confused about what is set in stone and did not seem to believe university representatives who said nothing was set in stone. Each of the groups came up with a wide variety of solutions, some seeming to be quite ingenious.

The Nichols Park noted numerous challenges and how it serves now as an asset, but many of the ideas negated each other-- although here was opening for the two viewpoints together could bring mutually acceptable changes in a park that has to be at once a respite, a center, creator of identity, and a pass thorough from one part of the neighborhood to another.

Some of the points of the 53rd experience breakout included need for store and store variety upgrade (including transparent storefronts), taverns, means of transit and access, parking, security including beat cops, wayfinding, longer hours for the retail, street furniture including benches, cleansweep, things to draw people further along the street.

Letter of dissent by Stephanie Franklin (who is president of Nichols Park Advisory Council, but this is not a letter by th council) to Hyde Park Herald May 2, 2012.

Whereas a byline does give a reporter some latitude, the fact that [the reporter] chose to "report" only one small piece of the conversations in the Nichols Park break-out session of Visioning 53rd Street Workshop (April 25) reveals only his own bias, and made us think he couldn't possibly have actually been there. To imply, as he did, that the entire session focused on the lilac hedge is not accurate, totally misrepresents the consensus of the participants, and completely ignores the many beneficial suggestions that were made.

It is true that both pros and cons of the hedge were discussed at some of the tables. However, "the group" as a whole did not "report" that the hedge made the park unsafe, and did not even include the hedge on the summary list of the group's most important considerations. In reality, the conversations resulted in positive suggestions such a improved lighting, considerably better landscape maintenance and additional activities like the Sunday Summer concert series and the 4th on 53rd event. The intent of the session wa to highlight ideas to augment and implement the existing Nichols Park Framework Plan, to increase park usage and to also ensure that the "peaceful green oasis in the geographic center of Hyde Park" remains exactly that. (The quotation is from the Hyde Park Urban Renewal Plan.) [The reporter] could have chosen some of those ideas to highlight.

We suggest that those [the reporter] describes as "users (who) feel isolated from 53rd Street and unsafe" should actually become users of the park, and perhaps even join us for some of our workdays and experience the park as we know it; and [the reporter] would be welcome.


Litehouse Whole Food Grill.

Opens in June at 1373 E. 53rd St. as well as in the South Loop and Lincoln Park later. Eric Nanc, local.
It will cater to vegetarian, gluten-free and organic needs, and to get them fast. The store will participate in charities and have the restaurant open to community organizations and activists to meet and use Friday night unitl Saturday evening.

Cleanslate appears to have been swept aside for the duration of the 53rd TIF (unless an SSA is set up) due to the tightness of the TIF leverage for Harper Court. People say the notice the difference!! The program is part of CARA and provides job-ready training and motivation for those with obstacles to employment including personal, lack of experience, or former incarceration. Last funding was in 2010 ($217,000 - including extension into 2011 and an increase to cover 30 employees) for sidewalk pickup and snow up to six days a week along 53rd, Lake Park and sometimes Metra embankments and side streets. Service stopped in the middle of 2011. However, it wasn't noted officially until September's TIF meeting, when it came out that tax assessment had been shifted somewhat to residential, making it possible that there would not be enough input into the TIF funds to cover Cleanslate in addition to everything else committed. The same problem is faced by the Small Business Improvement Fund for businesses in TIFs.
According to the Herald, the October TIF report shows a funding at $91,600. 2009's "job training" was $157,000, the 2011 difference representing the 60,000 increase in payment and days approved at the start of 2011. Payments to Cara were stated by the city to be $74,917 in 2009 and $227,895 in 2010.

A new chocolate, ice cream and candy store, Kilwin's, will open at 5226 S. Harper, in a University building just north of the future 400 Theaters. Announced February 2012. Owner is Jackie Jackson.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has signed for the retail building in Harper Court.

"Borders" to get a new skin and entry reconfiguration for multiple tenants. 2nd is likely to be restaurant related as soon as zoning is upgraded.
Akira clothing chain is coming to the Borders site, 53rd (1539) and Lake Park.
Coming fall 2012, the 8,000 sf store will become the expanding chain's flagship. It will take the front 2/3 of the first floor- suggested a day care center or restaurant for back? Owners are Eric Hsueh, Erikka Wang and John Coray.
The UC rep. Attorney Danielle Cassel appeared before the April 16 4th Ward meeting to request change of the former Borders property from B1 t B3 which would allow additional business operations such as catering, live entertainment (but liquor would require a different process). Cited was interested businesses wanting to do those additional kinds of business an not signing if permitted only to do what's in B-1. All the surrounding properties are B-3, so its remaining B-1 is a kind of anomalous default spot zoning. Entries for the south and 2nd floors were also discussed (main 2nd would be on Old Lake Park). The matter next comes up at the May 14 TIF meeting.

Herald, February 1, by Sam Cholke:
Clothing retailer Akira announce on Jan. 27 it will open its flagship store this fall in the former Borders bookstore building. The 1539 building was sold to the University of Chicago over the summer after the bookseller filed for bankruptcy and began liquidating stores.

The apparel store will occupy 8,000 square feet of the first floor of the building. the university continues to search for tenants for the remaining 5,000 square feet on the first floor and 12,000 square feet on the second floor. [8,000 of 25,000 sf]

Akira is a Chicago-based clothing and shoe retailer with 15 locations around the city and suburbs, including downtown and its first storefront in Bucktown. It has opened six new stores in the last year. "We are delighted to create a unique, flagship store in the heart of Hyde Park to offer women's clothing and stylish footware to add to customers' fashion sense, said Eric Hsueh, co-owner of Akira, in a prepared statement. "Our research has shown that many of our current clients drive in from Hyde Park and the surrounding communities to shop with us throughout Chicago. That's why we believe Akira will bring added value to the neighborhood."

The university has hired McCaffery Interests to lease the space, which boasted of other university projects to lure in in tenants. the former borders is across 53rd Street from the massive university development of the Harper Court shopping center and be close to Five Guys, the theater, and Clarkes, as well as a major bank. .

From January 31 Maroon article. Raghav Verma. The heading calls Akira "high-end."

"In a University statement announcing the store's opening, Akira co-owner Eric Hsueh said that the store's research showed that a significant portion of shoppers come from Hyde Park. Students were optimistic that the retailer would work with organizations on campus. "They really work well with students," said MODA co-director and fourth-year Colin Bohan, adding that Akira has sponsored MODA's annual fashion show with gift cards and will work with students on the organization's bi-annual magazine. Bohan also anticipates internships that will be more readily available to U of C students interested in exhibiting their fashion prowess. [In the past these were in Wicker Park.]

"Customers will also have the opportunity to share their style with series of photos displayed throughout the Hyde Park store, allowing for a more interactive experience between the store and is patrons (as well as small shopping events and fashion shows). (The store will also be directly across from the future Harper Court stores and LA Fitness.

Jan. 27 an ad hoc group called break new ground held a mock groundbreaking at Harper Court - it seeks broader public input in what should be in Harper Court and in making it work for all including labor in the future Hyatt and other businesses.


2011- the year the talk became action on the ground. From a January 3 Herald article (Sam Cholke) "UC drove development, controversy in 2011" (To see the rest and other analysis, see in University Master Plans page.)

Many of the construction sites in Hyde Park were kept quiet by the sluggish economy. But the University of Chicago's projects chugged along - often the only sound of development in the neighborhood.

In 2011, the University of Chicago capitalized on the ailing real estate market to accelerate its acquisition and development of commercial property on East 53rd Street. The university capitalized on Chicago's transition in politic powe to secure unique privileges for its projects. As the tide turned to favor university development, the institution began rewriting the rules governing its property - an ongoing process that has promoted some pushback from residents.

Development along East 53rd Street has been slow for a long time. New stores and restaurants have opened in recent years, but the commercial activity never catalyzed into large-scale investment in the physical landscape. In response, the university said it would step in and inciter investment where it was not occurring organically. For years the university collected property on East 53rd street, and it wasn't until 2011 that he university made major moves on its holdings.

A wave of university investment swept along 53rd Street all year, starting with the Harper Theater building. The Five Guys hamburger restaurant was announced in January as the first retail tenant to occupy the building in more than five years. Shortly after, a movie theater operator was onboard to open a five-screen cinema an the building now bristles with construction scaffolding. The university hinted at demolition in 2008 when its developer pulled out claiming the client was overly thrifty. Such accusations are now gone and the university is footing the bill for building renovations.

In May, a vacant mattress store hustled with construction work after the university lured Clarkes diner to the storefront. In July, the university purchased the shuttered Borders building and sought bids to construct a new mixed-use building where the Mobil gas station currently stands.

The largest university project though was the redevelopment of the Harper Court shopping center and the adjoining parking lot, which was empty storefronts and rubble for most of the year. The massive project commissioned by the university had seemingly stalled when the enlisted developers struggled to finance the project. The plans for a university office tower, retail shops and a fitness center had long before secured city approval and the Department of Housing and Economic Development was ready to dole out a sizable tax subsidy from the local tax-increment financing district. On Halloween, the project got backing from Citibank and the Canyon Johnson Urban fund. It was later learned that the university had agreed to guaranteed some of the debt and fill-in funding shortfalls to keep the project alive.

Hyde Park Rides Again, But residents wary of revitalization plans by U. of C.

Chicago Tribune February 12, 2012. By Alejandra Cancino and Corilyn Shropshire. [Note, there are simplifications and compressions in the article; in many cases land assemblages and projects morphed or merged into something very different from where they started)- for more detail and background, see Development pages such as 53rd Street, Harper Court, Harper Theater, and City Hyde Park. ]

See companion article on Antheus Capital in Antheus page.

After more than a decade of planning, change is finally tangible along Hyde Park's East 53rd street corridor. Buildings have been renovated, a few restaurants have opened, and a site has been cleared for a hotel and 12-story office tower to be built on land owned by the University of Chicago. The wave of rejuvenation is being led by the U. of C., which, as Hyde Park's largest landowner, has a vested interest in improving its amenities--not only for students and faculty, but also to draw newcomers to teh area between 55th and 49th streets.

Because of its South Side location, however, Hyde Park had not attracted the kind of commercial development common in neighborhoods like Lakeview or Lincoln Park-- until now. "This area has always been hurt by the proximity to really poor neighborhoods," said Joe Schwieterman, a professor of public service at DePaul University. "Retail adn hospitality investment was scarce because of a felling that Hyde Park was an island." Over time, Schwieterman said, the poor neighborhoods have been pushed further out, as the university has snapped up land around its campus, Schwieterman said. In turn, Hyde Park has become more attractive to developers, he said.

The main project is a Hyatt hotel and office tower at 53rd street and Lake Park Avenue, partly funded with $29 million from the city [TIF]. The university, which owns the land, and LA Fitness are the anchor tenants of the office building. The developer hopes to bring 10 to 15 shops to the street-level space.

The university also has purchased a number of buildings around the hotel project, including the former Borders building where clothing chain Akira will open a flagship store in the fall. The U. of C. also owns the building where the New 400 Theaters will open in November, and the building adjacent to it, where a Five Guys Burgers and Fries set up shop in September. Across the street the university renovated a building where a Clarke's restaurant is opening Monday. "The university has a stake in making Hyde Park an attractive community, not only as a good neighbor, but it is also central to our mission to attract the best scholars," said Steven Kloehn, a university spokesman.

Key to the revamp is a city incentive program. The city designated an 84-acre area around 53rd Street a tax increment financing (TIF) district in 2001, allowing developers to tap into the incentives. The program was set up because the business corridor was in decline. Nearly a third of the buildings in the district showed a significant level of deterioration, according to a study prepared for the city, and residents were concerned about the lack of quality businesses and parking.

"The commercial strip seemed to be lagging behind the general economic rebirth in the neighborhood," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who pushed for the TIF designation when she was 4th Ward alderman. "Neighborhoods that have strong commercial activity are more exciting places to live and to visit." Preckwinkle said her goal was to attract more retailer hesitant to move to the South Side. "There were a lot of national chains that didn't think that there was any money in black communities, or racially diverse communities, and that made it harder for us," Preckwinkle said. "It's a misconception in the boardrooms of large white corporations." (The area between East 55th and East 47th streets is about 49 percent black and 33 percent white, and more than half of the residents are renters, according to 2010 Census Bureau figures.)

To bolster the project's chances of success, Preckwinkle said she recruited the University of Chicago. After years of meetings, both private and with the community, the $106 million [sic] Harper Court project emerged. As part of the renewal project, the university bought a handful of buildings and demolished them. It also bought a parking lot from the city for $1. finally, in a bidding process, they chose developer Harper Court Partners, a partnership between Vermilion Development and JFJ Development co.

Residents say they plan to keep a watchful eye on any impact on the neighborhood's economic diversity. "It is going to be very interesting to see the kind of businesses they recruit and whether they succeed or not," said resident George Rumsey, a former president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Rumsey said he'd like to see a mix of local and national stores and high-end restaurants. He is concerned because the area lost a number of local business when the university razed the handful of buildings on harper Avenue. Some, including Dr. Tom Wake's Hyde park Animal Hospital and clinic relocated nearby [the main hospital being well south on Stony Island]. But others, such as Dixie Kitchen, simply shut, never to return. Some of those businesses cited higher rents; said they didn't want to go through the hassles of opening a new location.

Now that construction has begun on the hotel site, nearby mon-and-pop businesses are being hurt by reduced foot traffic and lack of parking spaces. donald Hannah, who manages Bonne Sante Health Foods, said store sales have declined by 25 percent. "We keep hearing the same story: It's gonna be great when its's done in 2013," Hannah said. "But we have to go at least a year and a half of people not parking and our business suffers. We're struggling to stay here so that we can reap the benefits."

Being located close to the project is expected to attract shoppers. However, some businesses are worried that any success at one end o the strip may diminish shopping further down the street. Business owners also fear that if the project is successful, it may cause building owners along he street to substantially raise rents. "There is not a set formula, but wouldn't shock me if rents went up in the immediate area next to the project up to 20 percent," said David Metrick [sp.?], a senior managing director at Studley, a commercial real estate firm. Metric [sp.?] said rental in the new project could be in the upper $20s to mid-30's per square foot depending on the size of the space and the financing of the project. If rents go up significantly, some local shops may be forced to leave. That worries people like Meghan Martin, 28, who works for a small business on the strip. While she is happy trendy boutiques are moving in, she also worries bout her own job security and how the incoming businesses will change the feel of the neighborhood. "It's going to feel like up north no," she said.

The latest renewal comes a half-century after the university unveiled a plan to try to prevent Hyde Park's decline after poor black families began moving in, according to the book "American Pharaoh" about the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Under the plan, about 20 percent of the area's building between East 47th and 59th street were demolished and replaced with housing or open space. The gentrification displaced many businesses along East 55th and 51st streets. As a result, East 53rd a two-lane street with no alleys and not enough parking, became the neighborhood's default shopping strip. "That was a shortsightedness or lack of city planning on the side of urban renewal planners," said Stephanie Franklin, a long time resident involve in several attempts to rebuild the business corridor.

Unlike past projects, however, the latest seems to have gotten traction largely because of the partnership between the city and the university, but also because suburban sprawl has stalled. Christopher Dillion, a partner with harper Court Partners, the project's developer, said he is talking with a number of local as well as national retailers who seem open to moving to the community. He declined to provide names. "When the economy was better, most retailers were focused in greenfield sites in the suburbs and now that the housing market is nonexistent -- retailers are looking for built-in population," Dillion said, adding that Hyde Park offers just that.

Hyde Park 53rd Street TIF Projects [ignoring City Hyde Park and those that haven't gotten beyond issuance of RFQ]

Harper Court, Akira (Borders Bldg.), The New 400 Theaters (Harper Theater building), Five Guys Burger and fries, Clarke's
Harper Court features: 1.1 million square feet of mixed use space, 12-story office tower with retail shops and parking, Hyatt Place Hotel, Up to 425 residential units.

Household expenditures within 1 mile of 53rd and Lake Park: food/beverage $181 million, entertainment $66.2, Apparel $57.7.

Borders at 53rd and Lake Park (1539 E. 53rd) closed in March 2011. The only completely construction housing a non-existing business in the neighborhood that was the "first fruits" of tax increment in the TIF business district. The University has bought Borders- a problem is developing separate access for second and or third tenant on second floor. .
AT THE JULY 11, 2011 TIF MEETING UC ANNOUNCED IT HAS A CONTRACT TO BUY THE BORDERS AND SEEK NEW RETAIL. Susan Campbell said it could be broken up, but first priority is core businesses, which could be retail or restaurant.
July 28- U of C buys Borders from Gottlieb (Northbrook) interest. Latter loses on 7.7M 2006 purchase, problem is separating the two floors (could no find a tenant for both). July 28 UC staff was found cleaning up and preparing to show perspectives.

AT THE MAY 2012 TIF MEETING, the University discussed splitting the former Borders building into FOUR separate retail spaces and complete redesign and replacement of the exterior- BY OCT. 2012. (Said to resemble Waffle House- rectangle with full glass front and back, no setback on 2nd story.) The design will be discussed by the Planning and Development Committee at a meeting tba. Only Akira has been announced so far, but some kind of restaurant/entertainment/catering and fitness/wellness seem likely from hints.

Also announced at the July 2011 TIF meeting is that UC will put out a RFQ (later RFP) for its Mobil/McDonald site. Residential and graduate housing above retail. Although concepts were solicited at the March 2012 53rd Visioning Workshop (3 potential developers present) there has as yet been no revelation from the University.

UC buys once Woolworth's at 1451 E. 53rd, thought too big for one store and too small for restaurant; bringing in Clark's 24/7 diner. A real addition to the mix, one of the "missing" components of a healthy business strip and community. Sought by students. But adds more to the preponderance of UC commercial property ownership.

Herald, May 4, 2011. By Sam Cholke.
The University of Chicag announced late Monday that it has lured Clarke's a 24-hour diner to a storefront on East 53rd street. Clarke's serves traditional eggs-and-potatoes style diner food and currently has for locations in Lincoln Park, Evanston, Lakeview and Bucktown, with a fifth to open soon in River North.

The restaurant will move into the former Bedding Experts 4,000-square-foot storefront at 1451 E. 53drd St. The university purchased the building, which also includes a T-Mobil store, on April 19 from the Klairmont Family Association.

"We look forward to serving the Hyde Park area as always with quality food adn quality customer service," said Steve Dion, owner of Clarke's restaurants, in a prepared statement issued by the university. "We are also excited about the future plans of development in Hyde Park, and we are eager to be part of it."

The university recently announced that the Five Guys berger restaurant chain and New 400 Theaters would move into teh former Theater building at the corner of East 53rd Street and South Harper Avenue. In a prepared statement, the university says it will have other retail announcements in the coming months.


Clarke's 24-hour restaurant
Heading to 53rd Street. The University of Chicago and HSA Commercial are bringing Clarke's, a 24-hour Chicago-area diner, to 53rd Street in Hyde Park.

Clarke's has signed a lease and will occupy 4,000 square feet at 1451 East 53rd Street. The building was purchased by the University earlier this month, and the remaining space in the building is currently occupied by T-Mobile.

Established in 1986, Clarke's has existing locations in Lincoln Park, Evanston, Lakeview, and Bucktown, as well as a new location to open soon in River North. The restaurant addresses a longstanding interest among students and other community members for more late-night dining options.

"We look forward to serving the Hyde Park area as always with quality food and quality customer service," said Steve Dion, owner of Clarke's restaurants. "We are also excited about the future plans of development in Hyde Park, and we are eager to be part of it."

The late-night eatery is the latest business to declare its intentions for Hyde Park's commercial corridor, following announcements this spring of plans for a hotel, a movie theater, and another restaurant. Together with the mixed-use development at Harper Court, the new businesses reflect the initiative of the community, the City, and the University to promote new vitality along the corridor.


Harper Court redevelopment was updated and vetted in two meetings in March 2011. Some news ahead... See in Harper Court pages

March 7, Monday, 6:30 p.m.: The Planning and Development Subcommittee of the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Committee meets in open session at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell. The contracted subdeveloper for the hotel, Smart, will present and answer questions including about the currently expected number of rooms, limited meeting space, and amenities.

March 14, Monday, 7 p.m.: The 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council holds its open meeting at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone. Vermilion Development will update planning. (The developer is expected to close with the University in May according to Susan Campbell.) It is likely that Ms. Campbell will give an update, as she did at the HyPa quarterly meeting today, on leasing of Harper Theater and the Herald Building-- the west part of the 53rd facade to Five Guys, a hamburger emporium said to be favored by President Obama, New 400 Theaters, which plans 5 screens, and negotiations or thoughts about the remainder of the theater.

At the HyPa presentation, Ms. Campbell responded positively to expressed desire for artists space on 53rd and in theater, but no such planning has yet been done, and discussed many of the properties along 53rd Street and differences between the east, middle, and west parts between Lake Park and Woodlawn and announced a planning process with the Park District for Nichols Park, to begin in the next few months. A primary objective from the University's standpoint is to create a southwest to northeast access/use corridor from the campus to 53rd Street. Another is cohesion along Lake Park from Hyde Park to 55th, and another is increased residential and retail density in general.

Five Guys hamburger place slated for Harper Theater 53rd facade (west part) . Opening at the end of 2011 by this first tenant will follow cleanup and renovation. UC spokesperson Wendy Parks [?] is quoted in the Maroon that UC "has taken action to save these buildings" and is "committed to maintaining the integrity of these buildings." She added that OKW architects of Chicago tailored the project to community input. Renovation includes interior, facade, and "overall character." Windows will be redone and space created for signage. Five Guys will have an outdoor seating area with "attractive awnings." Details in Theater.


New five-screen movie theater coming to 53rd Street
The University of Chicago is bringing The New 400 Theaters, an independent movie operator that will offer a mix of art, children's and wide-release films, to the soon-to-be renovated buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue.

The 10,149-square-foot theater plan includes five screens with state-of-the-art digital projection. One screening room will have tables placed between the seats for future lunch and dinner options.

The New 400 Theaters plans to discount tickets for students, seniors and children. General-admission seating will be below market prices.

"The theater, along with other strategic revitalization efforts, will bring added value to the area. It is one more piece of our ongoing conversations with the City and the neighborhood to build Hyde Park as a key destination on the South Side of Chicago," said Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement.

The New 400 Theaters opened its first venue in Rogers Park in July 2009. That site, built in 1912 near Loyola University and formerly known as Village North, is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the country.

Tony Fox, owner and operator of The New 400 Theaters, said the Hyde Park location was ideal due to its close proximity to the campus and the overall commitment from the community to upkeep its neighborhood.

"We are proud to bring our theater to Hyde Park, a place where people really care about their community," said Fox. "My passion is community service, and we hope to continue in the same tradition as we have done in Rogers Park -- to bring safe, reliable and sound entertainment to the area."

Fox said his business partner, Tom Klein, will serve as general manager in Hyde Park. Klein is also the general manager for The New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park.

He said they are interested in talking with Doc Films, the University student group that screens diverse films each quarter for students, faculty, staff and the community, to see if there are potential partnerships that could work in the new theater model.

The movie theater has a targeted opening date of fall 2012.

January 2011 TIF meeting:

Harper Court hitting stride. By Sam Cholke

Financing is nearly secured for the major redevelopment of the Harper Court Shopping Center. The developers said they would be back in the neighborhood in the next two months to show updated building designs. "We're checking off milestones," said Dave Cocagne, president and CEO of Vermilion Development, the lead partner for the new office and retail complex.

Cogagne said a bank has agreed to to term sheet to finance the $114 million project. he said a hotel operator for the project would be announced in February. He said leases for 60 percent of the retail spaces are being finalized, but declined to name any tenants. "We're looking forward to getting a shovel in the ground by the end of the year," Cocagne said.

University: Theater building to be spared. By Sam Cholke

The University of Chicago announced Jan. 10 it will renovate the exterior of the historic facade of the Harper Theater and has identified a tenant for a portion of the retail spaces fronting East 53rd Street.

"I think the rest of the building once renovated will show well," Susan Campbell, associate vice president for civic engagement at the university, said at a meeting of the 53rd street tax increment financing district advisory council. For the past week, crews removed art installation from the storefronts and began cleaning up the interior of the entire structure at the corner of East 53rd Street and South Harper Avenue. Renovation of the facade is expected to begin in two weeks.

The university purchased the 13,00 square foot theater, office and retail spaced in 2003. In 2006, it hired Baum Realty and Brinshore Redevelopment to rehab the building as an office building with retail and restaurants. The university and the the two firms had a falling out in 2008 and the building has sat vacant until last year when the retail spaces began being used for art installations.

The spaces were cleared of their second-run of installations last week in preparation for the clean up. The university ha hired OKW Architects to lead the renovation and HSA Commercial Real Estate to manage the property.

Campbell said a lease has been sent out to a tenant for the retail space, which would be identified next week. She said no tenant has been found for the theater space and the university is considering splitting up the interior for multiple tenants.

Also at the TIF meeting, Antheus Capital said it would close next month on the purchase of a vacant lot at 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus, said the previous owner, L3 development and its investors, have turned over all community studies done when the site was slated for a high-rise residential building.

"I think it's most appropriately residential," Cassel said of Antheus' intentions for the site, adding that retail would likely be included to tie any development to surrounding retailers on either side of the Metra viaduct. The site will not be left as a vacant lot, he assured. "East Hyde Park could use more parking and that lot could work very well for parking if there's an extended holding period before development starts," he said. Cassel said Antheus has begun discussing ideas with neighbors, but rental housing was an appealing option."I don't hesitate to say the for-sale market remains very, very difficult," he said.

Parts of Kimbark Plaza have indicated they want to go ahead with absorbing a local park, Elm, for their parking, an issue sure to arouse much controversy.

Antheus' purchase of the lot at 53rd and Cornell and the University's of the McMobile site add new wrinkles and possibilities to teh 53rd strip.

Design was addressed for Harper Court at TIF meetings 2010 Sept. 13, 20, October 4. All TIF approvals were received, awaiting final approvals from the city.

Meanwhile, July, 2010. Vermillion Development presented public the TIF council in July revised plans that will go the Planned Development process in the fall and request for funds of $23.4 million, approved. Plans are already considerably altered from independent study. Also approved are subcommittee-recommended request $86,000 for engineering study of reopening Harper Avenue. A key element is completion a federal Recovery Zone designation, which would allow interest free loans. The TIF approved July 26, Community Dev. Commission and Zoning Committee approved in Aug.-Sept., City Council approval expected Sept. 15. Now come the details.

March 30, 2010, the firm of Klein and Hoffman, hired by the University, began simple facade repairs and evaluation of need for further facade work for the Herald and Theater buildings. It the latter is not too extensive and expensive, they will proceed to further work then remove the scaffolding, which was generally considered an eyesore. In mid June, the University was reviewing with the company "true costs" of facade repairs. Considerable fix up has been done and art will be housed in the facade in September and October 2010.

From the May TIF meeting:

May 10, 2010 meeting (see details and official minutes in the TIF Council Meetings page.

Hyde Park Herald, May 12, 2010. By Sam Cholke

The 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Council committed May 10 to paying for new bleachers and a new scoreboard at Kenwood Academy. "They already have half the money; we're competing the whole pie," said Howard Males, chair of the board.

In total, the council approved $51,200 for Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. Chicago Public Schools has already committed $35,000 towards the bleachers. The council will cover the entire $7,910 for a new scoreboard [for a total of $59,110].

Kenwood Principal Elizabeth Kirby said she requested the funds because the bleachers were becoming unsafe and the scoreboard was nearly unusable. "You have to avoid a splinter when you sit on them,"Kirby said of the bleachers. The council voted unanimously to approve the funding for Kenwood. The council also approved renewing a $157,000 contract with Cleanslate street cleaning crews. a final contract for $217,000 was unanimously approved. The contract adds an extra day of street cleaning on Saturdays for an additional $20,000 and sidewalk now removal for an additional $45,000.

Part of Cleanslate's mission is to hire at-risk individuals who find it difficult to find employment. The additional services requested by the council will allow Cleanslate to bring several new hires onboard next year.

The council also voted to purse recouping some $20,000 from LAZ Parking, which manages all Chicago parking meters, for shoveling snow around pay-and-display kiosks.

The Planning and Development Committee of the advisory council has been tasked with considering the first use of TIF funds on the redevelopment of the Village Shopping Center and th Harper Court Shopping Center. The committee will discuss commissioning an engineering study of opening Harper Avenue between East Hyde Park Boulevard and East 53rd street. The Chicago Department of Transportation would conduct the study for $86,594. "This is the beginning of the process of getting developers to the table to say where they're going to put things," Males said. The committee meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. June 14 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. "This wil be our first use of TIF funds for this project, and it's pretty straightforward," said Chuck Thurow, chair of the committee.

Though there are currently no immediate plans to start work or to open the street, Males said the study would be a signal to developers that both the council and the public is invested in the redevelopment of the Village Shopping center and the Harper Court Shopping Center going through.


University of Chicago has bought the McMobil site (they are thinking of graduate housing and ground fl. retail).
And Vermilion is chosen for Harper/53rd-Lake Park, review meetings have begun.

Is there a Roadmap ahead:

University, Dr. Wake make deal to move Hyde Park Animal Clinic outpatient to Freehling bldg. on 53rd and (likely) build a new hospital and overnight in South Shore, thus furthering the clearing of Harper Court. (Approved by Zoning Committee Aug. 25, then City Council )
Further news follows.


What the UC says about potential 53rd and area redevelopment.

By Deva Woodley- find link from http://fiftythird.uchicago.edu.

In development: Revitalizing 53rd Street From Little Black Pearl to the Hyde Park Art Center, the DuSable Museum to the Midwestern White House, Hyde Park is riding a wave of cultural and intellectual energy.

At the same time, the famously diverse neighborhood with a small-town feel continues to struggle to find commercial momentum and the right mix of amenities for its residents.

In current economic times, Hyde Park is not alone in confronting a challenging development market. However, the University continues to engage in a long-term effort to engage with fellow stakeholders in the Hyde Park community to address these challenges. That partnership has already helped bring in needed businesses such as the grocery store Treasure Island.

Now the University is working with the City of Chicago and 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle to redevelop the Harper Court area known as the “Heart of Hyde Park”—a year-long collaborative project that could soon bear fruit. Five development teams are currently working on development proposals for the area, and a decision could be made by early fall.

Deepening Community Involvement
The process of bringing Hyde Park’s diverse residents together to re-imagine the neighborhood has required a sustained effort from many different groups including the Hyde Park Community Council, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, and the Alderman. For example, in 2007, the University commissioned a study of the retail needs and desires of South Side residents, and in 2008, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference conducted a survey exploring community priorities.

In addition, the University has sponsored several community workshops organized by a collective of dedicated community groups and the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, to deepen resident involvement in re-envisioning the neighborhood. The University used the information gleaned from these diverse sources of input in the Request for Proposals issued to developers on Dec. 8, 2008.

It is clear from the community conversation that has emerged that although Hyde Parkers cherish the way their neighborhood fosters diversity, creativity and intellectual life, there is also an eagerness for more restaurants, more retail, and better access to transportation and parking. David Hoyt, a contributor to the popular “Hyde Park Progress”blog, notes that “Right now there is no place to buy clothing anywhere near Hyde Park.”Hoyt, like many Hyde Parkers, envisions 53rd Street as an “eclectic mix of small businesses. Ideally, the specialty, quirky, and boutique shops that you associate with a vibrant campus neighborhood with one or two national chains in the mix to anchor the whole thing.”

More Retail for Residents
Irene Sherr, a Hyde Park resident and professional urban planning consultant, puts it simply: “Hyde Park would benefit enormously from development. Our retail districts do not adequately meet the needs of residents and students.”

As a part of ongoing efforts to address this need, in 2008 the University purchased Harper Court as a part of a community planning process to revitalize 53rd Street. Since that time, the University has been working with numerous community groups and the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council to engage the entire neighborhood in the conversation about how to make Harper Court smart, sustainable, and successful.

Sherr and a number of Hyde Park organizations put together four “vision workshops,” in which residents could learn about neighborhood density and share their ideas for improving Hyde Park’s retail, entertainment, and housing offerings. Though most everyone agrees the revitalization would greatly benefit Hyde Park, some residents have expressed some uncertainty about how to best proceed.

George Rumsey, President of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, a community improvement group active since 1949, explains a common concern about “the type of development that will be invited into Hyde Park. Everyone wants to make sure that the businesses that set up shop here are sustainable for this neighborhood. Several years ago a United Colors of Benetton opened up here. There also was a Pier 1. Where are they now?”

‘We do not want to see Hyde Park become another mall’
Susan Campbell, the University’s Associate Vice President for Civic Engagement, shares Rumsey’s concern and reports, “I think uniqueness is important for creating a destination. People will come some place that they feel is exciting and different. We do not want to see Hyde Park become another mall.”

Rumsey also points out that some residents are concerned about the economic downturn and the decision to terminate the leases of current business owners in Harper Court in order to clear the property for demolition.

“I just have this fear that we’ll be staring at vacant lots for a while, and that is not very attractive.”

Campbell notes that since June 2008, the University has been working with tenants, the Chamber of Commerce, local landlords, and the city to assist with a smooth transition for both Harper Court businesses and their customers, while also maximizing developer interest. In order to show its understanding of the needs of community residents and existing businesses, the University has agreed to extend the leases of the businesses currently in Harper Court until June 30, 2009. In addition, there are plans under way to engage entrepreneurs and artists from both Hyde Park and around the city in planning interim uses for properties vacated in preparation for development.

“Redeveloping a neighborhood is sometimes a lengthy process,” Campbell says, “but I think if people remain committed to the process you can actually see success in a shorter window of time.”

Many residents also have concerns about whether the slow economy will stall the redevelopment of 53rd Street, but Campbell remains optimistic. “We need to remain focused and be strategic about how we allocate our resources,”she says. “If we remain committed as a neighborhood—not just the University, but all residents—we can achieve that vision of a vibrant 53rd Street.”

By Deva Woodly


Harper Court.

Watch also in http://www.vision53.org -the TIF based Irene Sherr site- equals http://www.hydeparkchicago.org/3.html (SECC website)
Direct to vote tallies, in this site. Or visit http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=po-CusQhQ1-YNafbkWI3ibg&hl=en&pli=14)
More reports at http://www.vision53.org/12.html.
All comments on Harper Area RFP guideline draft:

Pics turned in at the May 3 Workshop: Irene Sherr writes:

For those that are interested, one can find photos from the various walking tours from the may 3rd Workshop on the site. Feel free to add comments, it will enliven it. http://www.flickr.com/photos/26852843@N07/

I have also created a 53rd St. Group, http://www.flickr.com/groups/53rd_st_vision/

View G. Rumsey's pics of the May Workshop at http://picasaweb.google.com/crcrumsey/53rdStreetVisionWorkshop.

Read about the Model Block Exercise, for November 15, 2008.
http://www.housinginitiative.org/video.html and http://www.housinginitiative.org/aout.html.

There are many blogs on development in Hyde Park now including Good Neighbors, hydeparkmajority, hydeparkprogress and hydeparkurbanist- see in Neighborhood Links page. For reports and background papers on Harper Court, visit James Withrow's Hyde Park Urbanist- http://alwaysintransit.typepad.com/hyde_park_urbanist/.

To Principles of the 2004 Zoning Ordinance:

Announcements, meetings and alerts-

May 7, Monday, 7 pm. 53rd St. TIF subcommittee on planning and development, chairs Mitch Cohen and Chuck Thurow. PUBLIC HEARING ON VUE 53 "MCMOBIL" (53rd/Kenwood). Kenwood Academy Auditorium, 5015 S. Blackstone. We will be discussing the mix of residential and commercial uses proposed for the site, how those uses are incorporated into the design of the project, and the possible effect of it on the surrounding neighborhood (particularly with parking and traffic).

Next TIF meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 13. At Kenwood Academy Little Theater (flagpole entry then walk all the way south), 5015 S. Blackstone.

See Harper Court Survey results at http://www.hydepark.org/survey.

Visit for report on the December 8 2007 Workshop, www.vision53.org or transcription in this site: December 8 page.

See notes on May 3 53rd Vision Workshop II in own page.

From the July 14 TIF meeting



At April 24 2009 UC Outreach Forum, businesswoman challenges UC to have rents affordable to local businesses in the new Harper Court

[Ann Marie Lipinski, VP for Civic Engagement] included the redevelopment of the Harper Court shopping center and the adjacent city-owned parking lot among the university's outreach efforts, saying that the retail and residential complex planned for the site will boost vitality along Hyde Park's 53rd Street corridor.

During a question and answer session, Sandra Bevans asked if Harper Court's rents will be at levels local business people can afford. "So they're not having to pay $2,500 to $3,000 to rent some space." Susan Campbell, associate vice president for civic engagement, said that while it's too early to say what rent levels at the new complex will be, the university is helping business owners currently in Harper Court to find new locations they can afford. Top

Chase Bank is ready to foreclose on an abandoned, continually turned over building at 5200 S. Harper. The future of the building, next to Harper Court, is uncertain, but tenant Bettye O. Day Spa has moved to 1424-28 53rd St.

Other New

TIF Council endorses upzoning for a alcohol-serving restaurant, catering for Antheus owned 1350 E. 53rd St.
It was to deal with July 13 and presumably approved a similar change for 1363 E. 53erd to accommodated Hyde Park Animal Clinic.

Plans to up-zone a Hyde Park building to accommodate a restaurant topped the agenda [May 11, 2009] ...The council voted unanimously to approve a plan by Silliman Group LLC to change the zoning for Kenwood court, 1350 E. 53th St., until recently home to a Washington Mutual Bank branch. Silliman is affiliated with real estate firm Antheus Capital LLC, which owns more than 70 buildings in Hyde Park and is behind some of teh neighborhood's biggest development projects.

Kenwood Court, now zoned B1-2, a neighborhood shopping district, would be rezoned to B3-2, a community shopping district, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC Property Management, another Antheus affiliate. Silliman is seeking the higher zoning designation to move forward on a plan to lease space in the building to a full-service restaurant with a separate bar area and catering facilities, Cassel said.

Several in the crowd of roughly 30 that attended the meeting asked whether the up-zoning might open the door to other kinds of businesses the neighborhood might find objectionable. Cassel noted that liquor stores, tattoo parlors, cremation facilities and a range of other businesses must undergo community review before approval under the B3-02 zoning classification. Council member Jane [Comiskey] asked if the building's resident and immediate neighbors had expressed any concerns about the zoning change and restaurant plan. "The ones we spoke to were all for it," Cassel said.

Herald editorial May 20 2009- University getting it wrong at Harper Court- becoming bad for business

Carol Andresen told the Herald last week that she will be sticking around until 2012 at her Calypso Cafe location in Harper Court -- that's how long the lease runs. Dixie Kitchen is to be closed, and the University of Chicago has stopped negotiating with her about relocation of either restaurant. Meanwhile, a city planner tells us that a developer may be selected by the end of the year and that we could see "activity" in the next couple of years.

If the university has found a way to thaw the frozen credit markets, they ought to let someone in Washington know. We expect that it is more likely that this language, much like that use when the old Herald building and Harper Theater's retail businesses were closed many years ago, is at best wishing and at worst empty rhetoric.

The university's rush to to things its way has cost us more businesses again. This time, one of the businesses is just the kind of attractive restaurant we need more of in Hyde Park. It seems unlikely that Calypso stands a chance come 2012 of relocating, so that's another restaurant gone. Regardless of the university's intent, its missteps are numerous enough at this point that we must face an awkward reality: In 2009, having the University of Chicago in Hyde Park is bad for business. It's certainly bad for Carol Andresen's business and for the other businesses struggling to relocate from Harper Court.

How is it possible that an institution that was instrumental in saving the neighborhood mid-century is now such an obstacle to progress? We believe the leadership at the university was once much more able and willing to integrate themselves into the fabric of the community, to see themselves a part of where they were living, than they are now. In years past, the university's top officials lived, ate and worked side by side with Hyde Parker. Are the current problems a symptom of an elitist attitude growing in the university's top ranks?

For those of you who are hoping to get in one last pulled pork sandwich before Dixie Kitchen closes forever, get there before June 7. Lobby Carol for that or whatever else you favor on the menu; she'll be adding a few items from dixie Kitchen onto the Calypso menu.

Meanwhile, we congratulate Artisans 21 for finding a new home on 53rd Street. Their dedication to keeping this local institution alive is inspiring. Hyde Parkers, support this integral part of our neighborhood's culture and community. Your creative neighbors deserve it, and they will be challenged to keep their new location a 1373 E. 53rd st. open with the much more expensive rent they are paying.

We have a suggestion to the university regarding efforts to improve the retail scene in Hyde Park: stop closing so many businesses. Top

February 11 Herald carried an editorial calling on the University to share its plans for 53rd St.

February 10, President Zimmer told a lunch he remains committed to a hotel and retail expansion in Hyde Park. "We will be actively involved in getting a hotel and a better commercial environment in Hyde Park." but,

Hyde Park Herald asks in Feb. 11 2009 editorial, When will the university's plans for 53rd Street come to light?

The original author of the memorable observation, "the smallest good deed is worth more than the greatest good intention" is lost to history. We are nevertheless reminded of its veracity when observing the massive good intention that lines the northwest corner of Lake Park Avenue and 53rd Street, running more than a full city block north and extending west into our old home at the Harper Theater building. The University of Chicago is buying up real estate and moving out retail businesses at a monumental rate, undoubtedly with the intention of creating some sort of enormous real estate program for the students and residents of Hyde Park and beyond.

Years have passed as they move toward this goal. The fragile network of commerce on 53rd Street has been dramatically undermined. If a better 53rd Street is the goal (which we assume is the case), then it may help to look back on an important moment in Hyde Park's history to gauge the efficacy of the university's current approach.

In the 1950s, alarmed by the grittiness and density and crime rate in Hyde Park, the community, led by the university, got together adn took advantage of a federal program called Urban Renewal. A neighborhood of 60,000 people was reduced by nearly half, many retail businesses were eliminated and the grittiness and density and crime in Hyde Park were dramatically reduced. Along with undesirable elements, positive aspects of the neighborhood - a lively music scene, a vibrant artistic community - were also eliminated. For better or for worse, the elimination of one set of problems gave birth to another.

Of necessity, Urban Renewal projects were top-down, in many ways. At the time, people groused about the unfairness of the remaking of neighborhoods, city centers and other places where those dollars often were used to displace poor people and the businesses that served them.

The University of Chicago -- a key stakeholder and driver of Urban Renewal -- has now purchased the Hollywood Video building, 1530 E. 53rd. According to Steve Kloehn, the university has "no immediate plans" for the building. The Herald was able to report this news because public records became available documenting the university's purchase of the building.

This purchase may complete the acquisitiveness of the university in this part of the neighborhood. There's not much left for them to buy. They have acquired Harper Court at 52nd Street and Harper Avenue, the Harper Theater building at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue, and now the former home of Hollywood Video. The strip of retail remaining on 53rd street, between harper Avenue and Hollywood Video, seems an unlikely purchase -- we hope that even the university's ever-acquisitive real estate arm would pause at the thought of displacing the popular businesses there like Mellow Yellow and Valois.

The community gained national attention during Urban Renewal as it debated what parcels were targeted for redevelopment and why -- and through community investment in some of the more innovative aspects of Urban Renewal here. That partnership included support of the development of Harper Court, a retail destination designed to buffer some of the negative consequences of eliminating valuable retail and creative space in the neighborhood by creating a place where businesses could relocate, particularly those of artists and artisans.

What does this have to do with the purchase of a modest one-story building on 53rd Street? Of course, taken alone, they are unrelated. But added to the acquisition of Harper Court, the Harper Theater and the bundling of the city-owned parking lot running a full block on Lake Park Avenue -- all part of a recent request for proposals for development of Harper Court -- the university has a mega-development parcel that it has acquired without explaining what the goal is.

With all the public meetings, and despite the broad planning language of the university's request for proposals for Harper court, we are still in the dark. This is obviously either a massive planning project or fuzzy-headed land banking of the sort feared by 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell regarding the university's similarly unexplained purchases along Garfield Boulevard just west of Washington Park. We are complaining, as Dowell has, that the problem is that we don't know. The lesson of Urban Renewal is embedded in its failures as well as its successes. What worked in Hyde Park was the free flow of information about what was happening and why. What failed was overreach. Too much retail was imperiled and destroyed. The density of the neighborhood was reduced in a way that exacerbated later demographic trends away from local shopping.

Now the university has bought up a roughly 3-acre parcel on Hyde Park's retail thoroughfare. The retailers in these sites are being kicked out, and there is no plan made public. Is the university overreaching? Without their candor, we cannot know.

From our point of view, these moves do not reflect an understanding of the history of our community. They also seem to reflect a lack of understanding about retail development both of the kind required for big-box retail and the tiny needs of the Harper Court tenants.

As we pointed out earlier, one of the lessons of Urban Renewal was that public discussion of the needs of the community improved what took place. What direction does the university see for the development of its land acquisition? What is it they hope to achieve? These are legitimate questions to which the community ought to have answers, and the university may learn as it did during Urban Renewal that our of such discussions comes realistic improvement in those goals. Top


On the solicitation of RFP announced after agreement between city and University November 18, 2008 and Susan Campbell's thoughts on uses of Harper Court and retail redevelopment in Hyde Park.

11 responses were received to the RFQ by the deadline of January 26, 2009. They have since been winnowed to 5 or 6 who will be preparing proposals due in May. All are said to have a graduate student component and 2 to have hotels.

It was said at the TIF meeting March 9 that at least some proposals have a "graduate housing component." Needing clarification is whether that would satisfy a "20 percent affordable" component promised for any housing part of the project getting TIF subsidy-- and whether it should. Gary Ossewaarde

U of C, city name finalists for mixed-use project

(Crain’s) — The city of Chicago and the University of Chicago have cut the field of real estate firms competing for a proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the Harper Court shopping center to five developers. The finalists, picked from a field of 11 teams, will submit proposals to redevelop a nearly three-acre site at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue in Hyde Park. A spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Community Development confirms that the five finalists are:

• Block 37 developer Chicago-based Joseph Freed & Associates LLC.

• A joint venture of Chicago-based developer McCaffery Interests Inc. and Skokie-based Taxman Corp.

• A joint venture of Chicago-based Mesa Development and Chicago construction giant Walsh Group.

• Chicago-based developer Metropolitan Properties of Chicago LLC, a firm better known for its residential condominium conversions of older downtown office buildings.

• Vermilion Development Inc., a small Danville firm that opened a Chicago office last year.

The winning bidder is expected to be selected this fall. The project would provide a developer “with a unique opportunity to creatively reshape this area into a cohesive, active neighborhood core,” according to a request for qualifications issued in December. In broad outlines, city and university officials are seeking a retail/residential development that would include a parking structure for 170 to 400 cars.

The site includes the shopping center, which would be demolished, and an adjacent city-owned parking lot. The project is expected to preserve an existing 14,300-square-foot building at 5201 S. Harper Court, which houses the Park 52 restaurant and the Checkerboard Lounge blues club. The project’s cost could be offset with a tax-increment financing subsidy, according to the request for qualifications.
The site has an appraised value of $7.55 million, but a developer’s “purchase price is an important but not primary consideration” for the city and the university, the RFQ says.

University and city solicit Harper Court development partners. Chicago Maroon, November 21, 2008. By Ella Christoph

The University moved forward with plans to bring mixed-use development to Harper Court on Tuesday, beginning the process that will allow developers to submit proposals for the site. The University asked the city for a Request for Proposal (RFP), a city document that solicits responses from developers on how they would develop the site.

In May, the University purchased Harper Court, a shopping center on South Harper Avenue between East 53rd and East 52nd Streets that had largely fallen into disrepair. The purchase came as part of a larger University effort to revitalize Hyde Park. Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle has aided the effort to make the site more appealing to developers, adding a city-owned parking lot adjacent to the property last year.

The University and the city's development office issued the joint RFP for the three-acre site. The RFP request is the first step in redeveloping Harper Court and the adjacent lot. The U of C has been working closely with the community for the stated purpose of ensuring that residents' needs are identified and incorporated into the project. The University collaborated with Preckwinkle and the city's Department of Planning and Development to request the RFP, and plans to continue working with the community in planning the development.

According to Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement Susan Campbell, the Hyde Park community, as well as faculty and staff, have asked the University to take a more active role in making Hyde Park a safe and lively neighborhood. "[The site] could be redeveloped and serve as a catalyst, if you will, for redevelopment of the entire corridor," Campbell said.

the University hopes to create a destination retail center that might include restaurants, retail, a movie theater, and a boutique hotel. According to Campbell, students have also expressed a strong desire to have a late-night diner. There are also prospective plans to create housing on the site. Increased density on 53rd Street, Campbell said, would help support better quality uses of the space.

"I think we're looking or both [chains and local businesses] because I think both are necessary for a successful mix that can be sustainable," Campbell said. "What the chains provide is a sense -- they anchor an area and provide a sense of community."

However, local businesses would differentiate Harper Court from other retail opportunities, according to Campbell. "Since Hyde Park is so diverse, we have great interest in strong representations by local businesses," she said. Highlighting the unique diversity of Hyde Park through distinctive local businesses might also attract shoppers from outside the neighborhood.

In the past, Hyde Park has faced difficulties attracting businesses because of a lack of clear statistical data about Hyde Park's population and demographics. "I think what our challenge is, is to basically provide data and information to retailers about the spending patterns of such a diverse population," Campbell said. "For example, students and their spending patterns don't end up in those standard means because they don't always list Hyde Park as their residence."

A large working daytime population commutes to Hyde Park but does not live here, and its spending in Hyde Park has not been quantified. Additionally, Campbell said, spending patterns by the black community have been significantly underrepresented for years. Currently a lot of spending by Hyde Park residents occurs outside of the neighborhood. "People leave the area with their dollars and spend it, for example, down on Roosevelt Road," Campbell said.

"From our own personal perspective, having a quality environment in which you work and live is a strong recruitment and retention tool," Campbell said. The University's increased interest in the neighborhood follows a growing trend of university engagement with residents and commercial development. Other universities, such as Yale, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania, have attracted residents and commercial activity through mixed-use projects in recent years.


January 12, 2009 TIF Council meeting

Susan Campbell of U of C gives an update on tenant evacuation of Harper Court and the RFP process.
Panel of developer experts from the Nov. 15 exercise evaluates the Nov. 15 block exercise findings.
Alderman Preckwinkle reviews 2008.

From Hyde Park Herald, January 21, 2009. TIF council meeting talks Harper Court, 53rd St. By Kate Hawley

News that leased will be extended at the Harper Court Shopping Center and a recap of a community workshop about development on 53rd Street topped the agenda at the Jan. 12 meeting of the 53rd street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Council. About 50 people braved a snowstorm to attend the meeting at Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. Among them were a handful of architects and developers who worked with community residents att he Nov. 15 workshop which focused on creating a vision for developing the 53rd Street commercial corridor.

"The goal was to have everybody understand what it takes to come up with a viable development," said Irene Sherr, a local development consultant who coordinated the event. "I think most of the groups found it was not as easy as they thought." [The report distributed can be found at http://www.vision53.org or our 53rd Vision Report page.]

Participants used building blocks to design development concepts for three sites: Dorchester Commons, 1322 E. 53rd St; the Mobil-McDonald's site at 1410 E. 53rd St.; and the Harper Court shopping center and adjacent city parking lot. A major mixed-use development is planned for the roughly three-acre Harper Court site. No development is currently on tap for the other two parcels.

Experts who attended the workshop then crunched the numbers to see if the hypothetical proposals were sound investments. Four of the eight scenarios in the report Sherr presented at the meeting broke even, and four others showed returns between 1.1 and 7.8 percent. Sherr assembled five architects and eight developers for the workshop. According to the report, the developers included Peter Holstein of Holstein Development, Collin McKenna of Related Midwest and Dennis Harder of Joseph Freed & Associates, the company behind the redevelopment of Block 37 in the Loop.

"We like urban infill projects [like Harper Court]," said Kevin Augustyn, senior vice president of retail development for HSA Commercial Real Estate, who attended both the workshop and the TIF meeting. "That's where long-term value is."

A few of the developers who attended the TIF meeting stressed that increased density would probably be required in order to make the hypothetical 53d Street projects more profitable. Introducing the benefits of density was one reason for the workshop and two that preceded it, according to Sherr. "There is this allergic reaction to density," she said.

The workshops, sponsored by the TIF council, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) an a range of other city and community groups, showed people in the community like the vibrant, busy streetscapes the denser buildings can help create, she said.

University of Chicago officials also came to the meeting to upgrade the community on progress at Harper Court. Leases will be extended to June 30, five months after the Jan. 31 deadline initially set by the university to clear the complex, according to Susan Campbell, associate vice president and director of the university's Office of [Civic Engagement]. "Our rationale for vacating the property is primarily to prepare it for development," she said.

The process of finding a developer is moving forward, Campbell said. The city and the university issued a request for proposals, or RFP, on Dec. 8 and held a pre-proposal meeting and site tour for developers on Dec. 17. "We've been hearing from some very strong development companies," Campbell said. The RFP for harper Court has two parts. The first part is a request for qualifications, or RFQ, in which developers submit their credentials. Campbell said the RFQ deadline has been extended from Jan. 19 to Jan. 26. The second part asks developers who made the cut to submit their proposals for review. That deadline is May 11, according to the city's Web site. To see the harper Court RFP and the timeline for the project, visit the city's Web site at cityofchicago.org. Click, on City Departments, then Planning and Development, then Land Sale Information. Harper Court is among several projects listed on the page. [For direct full link, visit our 53rd Vision Report page.]

There was some dispute at the meeting about whether the community will see proposals from the top three developers who submitted to the RFP, or only the top one. Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said the community has always heard from the three front-runners, while Campbell and James Wilson of the city's Department of Planning and Development said only the top candidate will present.

In other business, Howard Males, council chair, aimed to reassure the audience about the state of eh DTIF given the downturn in the economy. "We have money," he said. "The business of handling the people's money will continue." About $3.2 million are in the coffers according to an annual report for 2007.

The council will vote at its March meeting on whether to continue funding for CleanSlate, the neighborhood beautification program that helps people with troubled employment histories transition into permanent jobs, he said. ...


Publications point to likely retail devel, possibly a national anchor in Hyde Park.

Real estate publications, study have recently (mid 2008) spotlighted HP retail development prospects, including for a national anchor. Does this point to a possible "other road" the University may be pursuing along side the public process? Neighborhood's diversity cited as a key asset and its dollar leakage as inviting development. (See Antheus page article on Village Center for discussion of another key element--enough space to draw in a set of different retail venues.)

Herald, July 16, 2008

Two recently published reports suggest Hyde Park is poised to experience a spate of retail development and consider the conditions the neighborhood requires to fuel that possibility. Pointing to the University of Chicago's recent real estate acquisitions along 53rd Street, the Illinois Real Estate Journal suggests that one key component to a resurgence of the retail strip--a national retail anchor--is much more likely to emerge.

Meanwhile, an unrelated study by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development reveals that the neighborhood's diversity is an important element for drawing businesses here.

The Illinois Real Estate Journal quotes Barry Schain, principal of Next Realty, as seeing a large anchor tenant in the neighborhood "within reach" given the university's ownership of the Harper Theater and Herald Building on the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue and its recent purchases of Harper Court on the nearby parcel between 52nd and 53rd streets on Harper Avenue.

The article also points to significant "leakage," meaning residents shopping outside of the neighborhood, as a sure sign of potential new retail development. The article identified $37.32 million in home improvement leakage, and $17.13 and $.16 million in apparel and grocery leakage, respectfully.

The Chaddick Institute study, after describing diversity as "an important business development tool," identified Hyde Park as the third most diverse neighborhood in Chicago and the most diverse in terms of diversity of income.

While exploring the possibilities for Hyde Park's retail future, the Illinois Real Estate Journal cautioned those looking to the possible 2016 Olympic bid as a retail draw. "What people should be considering is, is this the potential home for the Barack Obama Presidential Library in four years? " David Baum, principal of Baum Realty Group LLC, told the journal. "Real estate is something that has to be used 365 days a year - you don't sign a 20-year leases [for the period when the Olympics will be in town]."

Until recently, Baum was the developer for the university's property on the northwest corner of 53rd Street. Baum told the journal that their unsuccessful efforts to land the kind of tenants the university is after reflect shaky retail economy. "It's certainly indicative of the market on some level," Baum said. "There are a lot of people not ready to pull the trigger. We're getting deals done, but [tenants] are more guarded right now."

Baum also said the university had contracted with him to have a certain percentage of the tenants sighed within a time frame and opted out when that goal was not met.

....all eyes appear to be on the neighborhood, ready for signs of a retail resurgence.



The Osco site, the anchor at the east end of Dorchester Commons in the 1400 block of E. 53rd St., will have a Fifth Third Bank branch. The realty firm is global firm CB Richard Ellis, the construction company is Detroit-based minority owned Jenkins Construction. It has support of Ald. Preckwinkle and the Chicago Urban League, which will help direct workers to the project from its Entrepreneurship Center training and jobs program run jointly with the Kellogg School of Mange ment.

Hansel Whitehurst, Jenkins business says the project (or at least the minority ownership and training part) is supporting "the Hyde Park community vision of the Urban League and Ald. Preckwinkle" according to the Herald. Whether this will be widely viewed as "vision" for 53rd retail redevelopment remains to be seen.

There has indeed been much disgust at this move. The following letter ties this feeling to call for sensible retail advance whether or not everyone agrees on the examples cited.

June 18, 2008 Herald carries letter by Joseph Samuelson, "Fifth/Third Bank a waste of space"

I could hardly contain my excitement when I read about t he arrival of a Fifth/Third Bank to the former Osco Drug space. We finally have the much needed 5th bank (pun intended) on 53rd Street. What a great way to attract foot traffic and commerce to our neighborhood. Of course, I am being facetious.

I am surprised that this newspaper's editors had nothing to say on the matter in the June 11th edition. This is the biggest waste of retail space every. Do we really need another bank in Hyde Park? Are Hyde Parkers so wealthy that they need to diversify their checking accounts? Your article quotes Alderman Preckwinkle as being "very supportive." Is this all she could pull off? Finally, there is something stupid we can really criticize.

In my opinion, Hyde Park has little chance of an economic recovery at the rate we are heading. When good proposals come up, i.e. a hotel, getting rid of decrepit Harper Court, the failing Co-Op, they are shot out the window. Bring in another bank, and no one makes a sound! It's about time the community got behind people that are really trying to improve Hyde Park, instead of wallowing in our failing institutions and supporting silly ideas like this one.


March 10 TIF Advisory Council

Hyde Park Herald, March 19, 2008. By Sam Cholke

53rd ST. dominates TIF meeting

The 3rd Street TIF advisory council meeting on March 10 proved anticlimactic for those who anticipated a breakthrough on redevelopment of Harper Court.

George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park Kenwood community Conference, presented the initial results of a survey about how people want to see Harper Court redeveloped. The survey is a joint effort of the TIF council and HPKCC. Rumsey said the council has been getting about 00 responses a day and that slightly more since it put a link up on the social networking Web sit Facebook.com. There were more than 1,600 responses to the survey as of March 10, he said. The survey will be available until Thursday at hydepark.org/survey.

"Passing out results of the survey now could skew it," said Irene Sherr of Community Counsel, a local planning and development consulting firm. Rumsey contended that the results compiled so far were too general to dramatically alter the final data.

Half of the responses were from people ages 19 to 39, with ages 19-29 and 30-39 each accounting for about 25 percent of the total. Seventy percent identified themselves as white. "African American results doubled in the last week," Rumsey said. Eighteen percent of respondents identified themselves as African American or Black, according to Rumsey's preliminary results.

"People are really making use of the comment box," Rumsey said. Rumsey said he has 56 single-spaced pages of comments so far to go through. A lot of people say they want more businesses in the neighborhood that are open ate 9 p.m.--and that's not just coming from the younger respondents, it's across the board, he said.

Sherr next presented the draft report analyzing the poll results at the Dec. 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop. There was a tremendous amount of consensus in the results, Sherr said. Diversity of the community ranked very high, she said. "The element is something that comes up all the time when we talk about development," Sherr said. "What does that really mean if we want to have more retail and housing?"

Sherr said another obvious trend that arose in the polling was the desire to see 53rd Street treated like the main street of t he community. The draft report is available online at vision53.org.

A follow-up workshop will attempt to address the questions raised by the draft report. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to noon May 3 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 E. Blackstone Ave., Sherr confirmed Friday.



53rd Street meeting to feature transit talk- Herald March 5, by Kate Hawley

An expert on transit-oriented development will speak in Hyde Park next week, as part of ongoing public discussions about how to redevelop Hyde Park's 53rd Street commercial corridor. Linda Young, a researcher with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, will give the talk at the March 10 meeting of the 53rd street TIF Council. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave.

The goal of transit-oriented development (TOD) is to cut down on the ill effects of sprawl by reducing dependence on cars. Its best-known precept is to locate new development near mass-transit hubs. But, as Young explained, it also aims to reduce auto traffic and congestion in other ways, by calling for compact, mixed-use developments that are friendly to pedestrians and bicycles. Residents in these mixed-use buildings support the businesses in them, thereby creating vibrant street life, Young said. And residents rarely need their cars to go shopping.

TOD often requires less parking, she added, which bucks the conventional wisdom that denser development inevitably leaves traffic hassles in its wake. "Density is a term some people are afraid of because of a lot of misconceptions," Young said. She noted that density can mean high-rises surrounded by seas of parking lots; it can also mean mid-rise buildings with shops on the ground floor and residences above, surrounded by inviting sidewalks.

Hyde Park residents would do well to consider these ideas, said Irene Sherr, a local planning consultant who invited Young to speak. She pointed out that 53rd and 51st street intersect with a Metra station and a handful of bus routes.

Sherr emphasized that several sites proposed for redevelopment sit near this transit hub, including Harper Court, the larger 53rd Street commercial corridor and Village Center, the shopping center on the southwest corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park Avenue. "All of these development opportunities that are there could be viewed through the lens of TOD," said Sherr. "It's something all of us should think about."

The Center for Neighborhood Technology is a Chicago nonprofit that has worked on a national level to build sustainable communities, including research and advocacy for TOD.


November 10, 2008 TIF report from the Rehab and Repair Committee

Report from Rehab and Repair Committee: Chair Jane Comiskey reiterated the committee's mission of enhancing 53rd street in any way possible to assist residents and retail establishments. A group of reps from numerous Hyde Park organizations walked 53rd Street and took note of many "good news" items: new businesses, signage, awnings, trees, Friday night music at Chant and Mellow Yellow, and only one vacant site, Baskin Robbins. The group did not take into account large vacant sites as these are more complicated issues.

Suggestions included trimming lilac bushes along the perimeter of Nichols Park on 53rd Street (safety concerns), what to do with the empty space at the Metra station, and possibly a new newsstand at 53rd and Lake Park. The committee will visit other neighborhoods for ideas.

Irene Sherr suggested the committee consider the U. of C. student task force recommendations and investigate the "Place Making" initiative for process ideas. Marcie Schlessinger suggested that some of the lilacs in Nichols Park be removed entirely to provide a sight line into the park. The R & R Committee is working with the Nichols Park Advisory Council and looking at the original plans for the park.


Alderman, local groups, city and regional planning agency seek input on 53rd St. May 3 2008. Following is run-up description of the May 3 Vision Workshop II. Many prominent experts gave bullet points of what they considered requisites for successful redevelopment of 53rd Street and, divided into 4 section topics, led the 108 participants, armed with cameras, in a walk-through of 53rd and presented to plenary each team's key desired principles for 53rd and its redevelopment. Description will follow, and the official report will be online. Next workshop is November 15, an exercise using the Housing Corridor Initiative block exercise. See notes on the May 3 Workshop in its own page.

Hyde Park Herald, April 16, 2008. by Kate Hawley

Participants in a May 3 workshop on the future of the 53rd Street commercial corridor will take to Hyde Park's streets, cameras in hand to document its built environment. "It might help creates kind of a portrait of53rd Street," said Irene Sherr, a local planning consultant who is one of the event's organizers. "Hopefully, it'll give people a chance to see things differently."

The evolution of the street's shopping strip is the focus of the 53rd Street Vision Workshop, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

It is the second in a series of three workshops meant to determining what kind of development the community likes, so that developers interested in building along 53rd Street can proposes projects that are likely to get local approval. "It facilitates progress, in a way," Sherr said. "It also gives city and elected officials a better way to respond, because these issues have been looked at broadly."

The workshop will begin with brief presentations from four to five experts in architecture or urban development, Sherr said. The speakers haven't yet been finalized. Breakout sessions will follow that will allow smaller groups to discuss specific issues in more depth. These groups will then take cameras out into the neighborhood, to gather visual evidence of some o the topics they've discussed.

The images, along with responses from attendees, will eventually appear online, according to Sherr. Those who have digital cameras are encouraged to brig them, and those who don't will get disposable cameras to use during the workshop, she said.

The event is the second of its kind organized by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) in conjunction with a broad array of community groups, including the South East Chicago Commission, the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, the University of Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, or CMAP, and Community Counsel, Sherr's consulting firm.

At the first Vision Workshop, held Dec. 8 a Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone ave., almost 200 people used handheld devices distributed by CMAP to share their responses to a series of questions about how 53rd Street should be redeveloped.

Sherr said that certain issues surfaced again and again in people's responses: diversity, density, urban design and aesthetics-- and the accessibility of the neighborhood by car, train or on foot. "People just want more," Sherr said. "People just want an active community with lots of choices."

The purpose of the May 3 workshop is "to clarify and define the themes that emerged from Dec. 8," Sherr said.

It's also meant to lay the groundwork for a third workshop in the fall, which will use techniques developed at the Corridor Housing Initiative in Minneapolis, she said. These community workshops allowed participants to model developments with their own hands using blocks and aerial maps. Computers instantly tabulated the financial viability of their ideas.


53rd Cornell project updates

Late November 2010, Antheus entered a contract to buy the L3 development land at the nw corner of 53rd and Cornell. There will likely be a new plan. According to the Herald of November 24 (Alicia Barney), Peter Cassel said the transaction should be complete by the end of the year. Cassel is quoted, "We think it's a very important corner for the neighborhood. We're very excited about what's happening to the west of the Metra tracks in the Harper Court redevelopment. We're deeply invested in East Hyde Park, an we believe that this parcel can help be a link between East Hyde Park and Harper Court redevelopment. Cassel told the Herald plans are very different from L-3's high rise plan and they are hiring architects and planners. The key point is to develop something there. They will begin a conversation with the community soon after completion of the purchase.

April 2008

As presented at an open neighbors meeting called by Ald. Preckwinkle April 23 at Congregation Rodfei Zedek, the building has been modified for 17 to 20 stories plus mechanical space,largely to work the economics of the fact that the building will now be rental and will include 15% affordable units. Alderman Preckwinkle was able to work out with L3 Development inclusion of 15% (not just the city-mandated 10%) affordable units- and on-site. Affordable is defined as the points based on area income and characteristics of the structure as defined in terms of "points" assigned by the city: That will determine what the rents will be. Intent is to not include or use any government subsidy or Section 8 subsidy and have the structure entirely debt equity. They intend to scatter affordable units throughout the structure, but exact mixes will depend on such factors as ratios of one- and two-bedroom units rented. Undecided is whether finishes may differ in affordable units. (Unsaid but inferable from the fact that the layout is unchanged from former plans for a condo building is that it is conceivable that some or all units could at a later date become condo.) Possible rents were speculated to be, if following current nearby rents, $1000 to $1800 a month.

At the meeting, representatives of the Coalition for Equitable Development in Hyde Park-Kenwood thanked the alderman and developer for this progress progress on affordable units and asked consideration of setting aside two-thirds of the affordable units for seniors and that units be able to accommodate the disabled. The developer noted in answer to the latter and related questions related to accessibility (and just being able to maneuver in buildings) that the entire structure must follow federal accessibility standards.

Howard Males, chair of the TIF council, noted that the project was thoroughly vetted by the TIF and its committees and was approved 2 years ago and not changed significantly enough to require reconsideration although it will be re-presented at the May 12 TIF meeting (7 pm, Neighborhood Club).

Basic features of the building, approved by the TIF Council 2 years ago according TIF chairman Howard Males, include

  • 206 residential units in an "L" shape along 53rd and part way up Cornell, 11 on 26th and 13 7th-20th
  • 15% Affordable units on site
  • 7,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor level along 53rd and up Cornell to the lobby and parking entry
  • 246 parking spaces occupying the first 5 stories behind and above 1st floor retail and northward covering the entire site-1.19 ratio. Entry and exit remains on Cornell at the north end of the apartment tower, loading from 53rd along Canadian National
  • Rooftop garden at the 6th floor level north of the apartment tower, covering the retail-parking block. (City now mandates a dog run; building will allow pets.)
  • A mix of studio/one-bedroom (c60%) and two-bedroom apartments (c40%)

Answers to discerning questions including:

The traffic reviewer did not see an appreciable effect. A new shadow study will be be submitted.

This will be a quality, contextual masonry building. Designer is Antunovich firm, which has done much work in Hyde Park and much restoration work.

The development is intended to take advantage of proximity to transit, hopefully with some tenants not needed car spaces. No commitment could be made on access to parking by neighbors--except that a number of spaces on the second floor will be available to patrons of the retail, who will be able to use an elevator and use a passage through the building at ground level to 53rd St.

Hope is to help spark 53rd St. retail renaissance as well as install services needed by both residents and neighbors such as a pantry-like store or restaurant.

Next steps for the proposed Planned Development, which will take a minimum of a year, include hearings by the Chicago Plan Commission, Zoning Committee and Community Development Commission. Only property owners of note within 400 feet will get notices (to some) of these. Notices will be in the local papers and posting boards and online through the agendas of the agencies in the City of Chicago website. None of the referenced reviewers will consider the project before June or July 2008. After approvals, the permit process begins and full construction drawings drafted.

University fires Theater/Herald Bldg. developer, fate uncertain. May 2008

In May 2008 the University made official that it has fired its developer for the Theater/Herald buildings. Reason given was that the developer did not meet numerous agreed upon deadlines and standards or deliver retail tenants. (Details were not given and persons with alleged inside information have given differing versions-- no satisfactory tenants were found/signed or the University felt the prospective tenants were not upscale enough.)

University spokespersons told meetings and media they will take time to consider course of action and that bundling with the Harper Court RFP is a possibility but not first choice. (Problems would include non-contiguity--a requirement for city RFP planned developments) unless added was property east of Harper (viable transit-linked Starbucks ...Mellow Yellow ...Valois-- or north on Harper--purchase believed stymied on latter; also loss of time and change of Harper Area RFP, need for new appraisals et al. Pointed to in any case is demolition, a prospect disapproved by some parties for this property, part of which is Orange-rated.

Herald article, May 21, 2008: University of Chicago fires Harper Theater developers. By Sam Cholke

The University of Chicago confirmed Friday that Brinshore Development and Baum Realty have been terminated s the developers for Harper Theater. Susan Campbell, associate vice president for Community Affairs, said the university made commitments to the community about the project at 53rd sTreet Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District Advisory Council meetings that the developers were having difficulty honoring.

The University is still committed to creating a mixed-use retail space at the site, but are going to go back at this pont an look at all of the options, Campbell said.

When asked if the Harper Theater property would be packaged with the recently acquired Harper Court and adjoining city lot properties, Campbell said it was"one possibility, but not a leading option." "We have been disappointed that the development team hasn't met with deadlines and specifications they have ascribed to," Campbell said May 12 at the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council meeting.

The university will go back to the community soon to outline where things stand with the Harper Theater property and what options are available moving forward, Campbell said.

A representative from Brinshore Development and Baum Realty was not available to comment as of press time.


Panel on Hyde Park Development March 4 2008 held on campus- report

The March 4 heavily-attended panel and discussion sponsored by Southside Solidarity Network was not part of the series of visioning workshops, for 53rd Street and beyond or the Harper Court studies and surveys, but fit into the growing discussion of development goals and prospects for Hyde Park. While the following report could no be comprehensive, it covered most of the bases and perspectives.

Chicago Maroon, March 7, 2008. By Ella Christoph

Community leaders and University administrators gathered Tuesday to discuss plans for bringing appealing retail options to Hyde Park at a panel discussion entitled "Making Hyde Park: Development in Our Community," hosted by Southside Solidarity Network.

Wallace Goode, associate dean of students and head of the University Community Service Center, moderated the event, which was well-attended by a diverse audience of over 100 long-time residents of the neighborhood as well as University students. The seven panelists represented the University, the Hyde Park Historical Society,...Community Counsel, the Romero Cook Design Studio, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the Hyde Park Coalition for Equitable Community Development, and the 53rd Street Tax [Financing District].

Most panelists endorsed increasing Hyde Park's population density and improving basic retail options while continuing to develop the neighborhood's sense of community.

Aaron Cook, owner of local urban planning firm Romero Cook Design Studio, suggested a catalyst for foot traffic such as an Apple store or a Gap. However, one University graduate student said that the Gap is a nationwide chain that would not contribute to the Hyde Park community-oriented environment. George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, echoes the student's concern. "We try to make it so chichi an so upscale and neat, it loses all character."

Students and Hyde Park residents are looking for a mixture of high- and low-end retail, said Susan Campbell, associate vice president of the Office of Community and Government Affairs at the University, citing polls conducted by the University through telephone and e-mail interviews.

One attendee complained about the University's tendency to provide resources for students on campus, deterring them from exploring the neighborhood. "I think the University does a really lousy job of promoting Hyde Park at the University," Rumsey said. "There's no entertainment in this place besides browsing the bookstores," he said. The crowd laughed as Campbell added that students often cite the basement of the Reg as their favorite place to hang out.

Irene Sherr, [of] Community Counsel and landscape and urban planner, said it is often difficult to convince retailers that there is retail potential in Hyde Park. Rumsey was more optimistic about the future of business diversification in the neighborhood. "The businesses that succeed in Hyde Park appeal across the races," Rumsey said.

Panelist [Pat] Wilcoxen, a board member of the Hyde Park Coalition for Equitable Community Development, expressed concern that increasing retail options would drive up housing prices for current residents. She also voiced concerns about senior housing and said that many seniors may no longer be able to afford rent if Hyde Park undergoes significant development. "I'm not afraid of us losing our racial diversity. I am afraid of us losing our economic diversity," Rumsey said.

In order to counter rising residential rates, Sherr said, developers could use TIF fund incentives, which require keeping at least 20 percent of housing affordable to low income residents. [ed- not exactly what Sherr said or meant.] More concerns about housing for low-income residents will be addressed at a University-sponsored panel discussion on Progressive Urban Financing on Thursday at 5 p.m. in Stuart 101.

Making Hyde Park

Chicago Weekly News, March 13, 2008. By Robin Peterson

Development in Hyde Park has been a contentious issue since the urban renewal of the 1950s, and judging by the crowd at the panel discussion "Making Hyde Park: Development in Our Community," it's as hot a topic as ever. Over one hundred students and Hyde Park residents crowded into an undersized room in Ida Noyes on Tuesday, March 4, to listen as a diverse group of panelists put forward their visions for the future of Hyde Park. It was an occasion for "conversation, not debate," as moderator and University Community Service Center director Wallace Goode emphasized, but that didn't mean voices were not raised as the panelists argued about issues like retail, density, architecture, and t he University's involvement in development.

The eight-member panel, which was organized by the southside Solidarity Network, included both those with an interest in preserving Hyde Park's past and current diversity and those focused on economic development. The Hyde Park Historical Society, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC), the University, the Hyde Park Art Center, and the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district were among those represented. While it would be impossible to divide them neatly into two camps, since many have overlapping interests and concerns, the organizations themselves seem to have been disconnected from opposing viewpoints. "These enclaves are voicing their opinions in vacuums," said Susan Campbell of the University's Office of Community Affairs. "We need to make sure everyone has a say if we want to maintain diversity."

The discussion allowed a wide range of pinions to be expressed, many in conflict but some in general agreement. The establishment of a new retail corridor on 53rd street is a top priority for several of the panelists, though the type of retail to solicit remains a matter of dispute. Architect Aaron Cook suggested the Gap, eliciting a murmur of disapproval from the audience. Most panelists seemed to favor a healthy mix of local and national, cheap an high-end establishments, but a number of audience members voiced fears that Hyde Park could lose its diverse, eclectic character if it become the site of to many upscale chains.

Most panelists also agreed on the need for increased residential density, which allows for greater sustainability in terms of both businesses and the environment. As Irene Sherr of Community Counsel explained, "In the '60s, Hyde Park had 65,000 residents. Now it has 44,000." She argued that taller buildings would allow for a larger population. which would translate into a larger market and draw more businesses into the area. But as several other panelists pointed out, Hyde Park's problem may not be the size of its market so much as its ability to exploit it: currently, many students chose to spend their money elsewhere in the city. Perhaps this is because, as HPKCC president George Rumsey remarked, "There's no entertainment here beyond browsing the bookstore." Even University of Chicago students need something more than that--just as long as the bookstores don't all become borders. Top

U of C students participate in panel discussion

Hyde Park Herald, March 12, 2008. By Sam Cholke

A standing-room-only crowd of University of Chicago students and community members packed the Ida Noyes East Lounge, 1212 E. 59th St., March 4 for a panel discussion on the future of development in Hyde Park.

This forum is meant to be an introduction to the long, complicated questions of development in Hyde Park, said Hannah Jacoby, an organizer with the Southside Solidarity Network, a student group at the university focusing on encouraging dialogue between faculty, students, developers and neighborhood residents.

Wallace Goode Jr.... opened the discussion asking the eight panelists to define the No. 1 priority for development in Hyde Park. "It's really clear," said Chuck Thurow, a member of the 53rd Street TIF advisory council and executive director of the Hyde Park Art Center. "We need a strong retail corridor going down Lake Park Street." "Lake Park is just one important component," said Susan Campbell, associate vice president for community affairs at the university. Additional retail development of 53rd Street is also needed, she said.

The panel rehashed a debate common to discussions of development in Hyde Park: Do you use an increased population to attract new businesses or vice versa? "Building residential will help draw retail," said Irene Sherr, founder of Community Counsel, a community-development consulting firm based in Hyde Park. A lot of retailers don't know there's a market in Hyde Park, or on the South Side in general, said Sherr. "Speaking to retailers, they say: No, you've go to have rooftops there before we bring a store," Campbell said.

When Goode solicited from the panel what the role of the university should be in future development, the panel was at its most divergent. "I think the university should sell its commercial real estate," said Jack Spicer, a preservationist with the Hyde Park Historical Society. It's time to let the free market act, he said.

"The university isn't opposed to letting the free market do its thing," Campbell said, adding that the university's role is to shepherd the market along.

The panelists spoke for about an hour before opening the floor to questions from the audience. Several university students expressed concern that there was conflict in trying to create "a sense of place" while also trying to court national retailers. "Retail in this country has just changed enormously. You want a mix of national and local retailers," Sherr said.

George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, made it a point to note that new development in Hyde Park would be servicing more that the neighborhood by meeting retail demands left unfulfilled across a swathe of the South side. "Hyde Park is not just Hyde Park anymore," Rumsey said. "There's really a mindset that Hyde Park is an island, and you don't get off the island unless you get on the boat to the North Side," he said. Hyde Park is not aware of the changes going on outside of the neighborhood, he said.




HPKCC Development, Preservation and Zoning Committee and 53rd Street Future Steering Committee held a planning session for the Feb. 26 2008 meeting was held on February 4. Draft of an online Priorities Survey was vetted and continues to be. The survey will go live in the next few weeks.

Harper Court survey plans near completion

Hyde Park Herald, February 13, 2008. By Sam Cholke

[Parts of this were out of date when printed as survey launch and end date were pushed back some and final refinements, introduction etc were finalized. Also, the survey is a joint product with the 53rd St. TIF Advisory Council.]

The Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) finalized questions for an online survey soliciting community input on Harper Court this week. "This will be our final fact-finding effort to find out what the community would like to see at Harper Court," said George Rumsey, president of HP-KCC.

The survey will be available online in coming weeks and will be distributed through various channels throughout the community. HP-KCC members have been compiling polls and reports on the Harper Court Shopping complex, 521 S. harper Ave, in anticipation of a request for proposals or a request for qualifications form developers. This group will submit considerations they want included in any RFP or $FQ [to] the 53rd Street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District advisory council.

"We know no [developer] is going to match every one of these needs," Rumsey said. "The purpose of this is to come to a conclusion of things the community needs."

During the Feb. 4 meeting, HP-KCC members hashed out phrasing and general completeness before handing it off to HP-KCC member Vicki Suchovsky's daughter, a doctoral student in social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to administer.

"When you put ["Carry Forward the Original Purpose of Harper Court" as No. 2, it starts framing your mind for the next questions," said Fabio Grego, an architect with Fabio Grego and Associates. Rumsey predicted that any surprise results in the survey would likely relate to that question, saying he didn't think many people were interested in preserving the court's original intent of supported artisans and small businesses.

The survey was made available to the community at large on Sunday and will be collected and compiled by March 3. The survey draws on community desires that have been documented repeatedly, most recently Dec. 8 53rd street Vision Workshop. The form asks participants to rank items such as "space for impromptu gatherings," "should become a 'destination," and others on a scale of one to five, from not important to very important.

"A lot of businesses want Harper Court to be a draw," said Lenora Austin, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. People want a new Harper Court to have higher visibility to people who aren't already familiar with it, she said. "I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone directing people [to Harper Court]. Austin said.

HPK-CC members and residents at the meeting agreed that a redeveloped Harper Court would need to draw on people Court would need to draw on people from outside the neighborhood if it's to succeed, but will now put the question to the community at large.

"If it's going to succeed, it needs to be a destination point," Rumsey said. "I think 'destination point' is open to interpretation. The interpretation of destination point elicited the most reaction during the meeting. "What I like about Hyde Park is we don't have a lot of chain stores," said Grego. Grego said he is worried that a redeveloped Harper Court might draw those chain stores. "If we rely on [people from the North side of Chicago], it's probably going to fail," said Robin Kaufman.

Rumsey reiterated that the suggestions HP-KCC will submit to the TIF council are wishes and basic guide lines for considerations, and not an attempt to limit specific businesses coming into the neighborhood. Rumsey said the only person who has the power to dictate what businesses do or do not come into the neighborhood is Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). Rumsey suggested that concerns pertaining to the appeal of or aversion to chain stores are best directed to t he alderman, and HP-KCC has no authority to make andy decision about vendors.

The last item on the survey, "Finalists should present possible plans for community input and reaction," attempts to address and create an outlet for community members' concerns about what store owners a redeveloped Harper Court would attract, Rumsey said.


The new Harper Court? Preliminary design includes mixed use, high density, six-story anchor. Hyde Park Herald Feb. 20 2008. By Kate Hawley.

Graphic: A rendering of the south elevation of a proposed six-story anchor for Harper Court, designed by planer Aaron Cook. The white spaces to the left and right represent existing buildings.

The low-slung, angular structures that comprise Harper Court mall would be replaced with a cluster of four- to six-story masonry buildings that mirror Chicago's traditional architecture -- if one group's vision becomes a reality.

About 20 people gathered on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave, to view designs created by aaron Cook, a planner with Romero Cook Design Studio. The meeting was sponsored by a working group of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's Development Committee, one of several local groups looking at ways to rethink Harper Court, located on ?South Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets.

The mall, built in 1965 as a non-profit to support local artisans, is slated for redevelopment. Cook's plans are purely hypothetical at this stage, a way to get the community talking about what kind of development might best serve Harper Court, said Jack Spicer, a member of the working group.

A developer has yet to be chosen for Harper Court. The mall's owner, the Harper Court Arts Council, will along with the city seek proposals from developers, according to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). That process was set to begin in late March, but has since been pushed back to an undetermined time, Preckwinkle said.

A community forum on how the proposal process woks will be held Feb. 26 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. That meeting is sponsored by the Neighborhood and Business Environment Committee of the 53rd Street TIF Council and the development Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

In the meantime, the working group that met Feb. 13 is hoping to drum up support for its vision of Harper Court. Cook's plans call for keeping open courtyard space but bringing it up to grade (the existing courtyard is sunken).

Five new mixed-use buildings would have retail on the ground floor and residences , office space, civic space (for community meetings and related uses) and possibly artist workspaces above, Cook said.

Four of the buildings would be between four and five stories, and one of them would be six stories, heights Cook said are intended to match the existing rooflines on 53rd Street.

The look is meant to mirror Hyde Park's stock of brick buildings, with concrete and limestone accents, Cook said. He pointed out that several of the facades he designed were variegated to make them look like a row of smaller buildings.

In the coming weeks, the working group will aim to "shop around" Cook's designs, making them widely available to the community, Spicer said. Cook has posted them online at his firm's website, romerocook.com.

Cook's designs met with little resistance from the working group . Many who attended t he meeting spoke approvingly of their "European" feel, with shops surrounding an open courtyard . Others lauded their density. "You've shown Harper Court fully loaded," said Fabio Grego, an architect with Fabio Grego and Associates. Cook acknowledged that for his plans to succeed, the surrounding areas would also need to get denser and busier. "If we built this tomorrow, it probably wouldn't be successful." he said. "This can't stand on its own. It needs density."



At the January 14 TIF Advisory Council meeting, in addition to a full report on results from the December 8 Workshop attended by nearly 200 Alderman Preckwinkle discussed next workshop(s)- theme-based and broader, and looking at what results were wanted area-wide and maybe later go to specific sites. Also announced was that HPKCC would work with the TIF Business Environment Committee to develop an open RFP process for Harper Court and the City lot.

January 10. Harper Court Future subgroup of HPKCC Development Committee's 53rd process ad hoc group plus leaders from TIF, Community Counsel's Irene Sherr, others met to report on smaller discussions they hope will lead to a broad, professionally facilitated process. The small group will meet again, there will be major announcements at the TIF (including a slowing of process to allow this to to be set up), with findings at the Jan. 10 + HPKCC Development Committee January 23 meetings to move the process, including inclusion, forward.

The TIF Bus. & Envir. committee and HPKCC Development committee met January 23, with representatives from many local organizations including Harper Court Arts Council to continue the planning process. There will be a community workshop forum on February 26 on Harper Court and guidelines for the RFP process, and planning will continue for a broad-issues, broad-territory planning follow up to Dec. 8, to be held in the spring.

January 14 TIF Advisory Council meeting- in TIF AC Meetings page.

[linked] please find the keypad polling results from the December 8th workshop. Alderman Preckwinkle and the SECC and the Workshop Planning Committee will work with CMAP to develop a draft report. The SECC is developing a website to serve as a conduit for information regarding the December 8th workshop and related issues. It is currently online, but still a work in progress. In http://www.vision53.org.

South Side Solidarity Network held a forum March 4 on Making Hyde Park: Development.... before a packed audience of over 100 students and residents. Panelists included Hyde Park leaders including Susan Campbell, George Rumsey, Irene Sherr, Pat Wilcoxen, Chuck Thurow, Jack Spicer and others. Both divergence and wide consensus were present, and the audience brought in most other related topics and needs.

March 5 renderings of architect Aaron Cook's renderings of Harper Court possibilities, including video walk through, were shown and elicited lots of thought. A larger showing of this and other views of possibilities will be shown April 9, Wednesday, 7 pm at the Neighborhood Club.

A List of studies and reports on the future of 53rd street since 1998

(one earlier) (in progress, underlined are direct links in the hydepark.org website). By Gary Ossewaarde. Thanks to Irene Sherr for start. December 2007

Development Projects

RFP for 53rd & Harper

Planning Initiatives:

53rd Street Committee- 1990-92- multi organizational, convened by SECC (files in HPKCC,Regenstein)

Ad Hoc Committee on Metra Stations- 1990 or earlier through about 2000, convened by SECC (files with SECC?)

Ad Hoc Committee for 53rd Street- 1992-1994 culminating in report recommending a Special Assessment District, October 1994 prior to November 1 hearing. Fiscal agent HPKCC, files at HPKCC, Regenstein, and elsewhere?

A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District, March 2000 – City of Chicago, Skidmore Owings and Merrill;
Barton – Aschman and AREA (parking study)

TIF Designation Report – S. B . Friedman, 1999/2000?

Walkable Communities Workshop - 2001

Lake Park Corridor Improvement Project, CDOT, Metra, IDOT, University of Chicago : 2003 – present

Middle School Plan for Hyde Park

Nichols Park Framework Plan- Chicago Park District and Nichols Park Advisory Council 2006. See also Nichols Park Planning, Nichols Park Gym/Murray Addition and Garden Fair Plan.

Spruce Park Framework Plan- Chicago Park District and Spruce Park Advisory Council 2006. Synopsis

Transportation Enhancement (Parking Improvements) District Recommendations- TIF Advisory Council Parking Committee with assistance of Chicago Planning, Revenue and other departments, nonprofit planning organizations, Community Counsel

2004 City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance and Principles - City website. Some information including on forums on rezoning, and mostly still relevant maps in hydepark.org.

Business and Improvement/Enhancement programs and studies

CleanSlate abstracted documents, 2006-07- CARA

Hanging Basket Program- TIF Advisory Council, SECC, Chamber of Commerce

TIF Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF)- City of Chicago

(Forthcoming) University of Chicago commissioned Retail need and preferences studies.

Quad Cities- LISC Business Street and Market-Area surveys.

Community Forums and Councils

(Ongoing since 2000:) 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District Advisory Council- Minutes and Reports, annual reports (Chicago Department of Planning), TIFormation. Minutes and formal reports: Check SECC or their website http://www.hydeparkchicago.org for a complete series. Early minutes and reports, July 2006, and more recent minutes.

Future of 53rd Street- Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Spring 2002. Paper only in HPKCC files?

Zoning Reform- HPKCC 2003

What's Right and What's Wrong with Hyde Park? - HPKCC October 19 2005

Three meetings and Workshops on the Future of Harper Court-with proposed principles for RFP and submitted to the alderman, city, Harper Court Arts Council- HPKCC March-May 2006 (In June 2006 Reporter. See hydepark.org Navigator to studies, documents, views including

Harper Court Arts Council draft guiding principles for RFP 2006

53rd Street Vision Workshop, December 8, 2007. 4th Ward Office, South East Chicago Commission, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Hyde Park Interfaith Open Communities, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, University of Chicago, City of Chicago Department of Planning, Chicago Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, others. Initial commentary and reports (in this page). Formal reports pending.


Summary Document on Harper Court Priorities

Compiled by Trish Morse, HPKCC Secretary, as a fulfillment of request of Alderman Preckwinkle for the TIF committee and HPKCC to compile/prepare community input into Guidelines for a Harper Court RFP for March 2008. Morse used the documents listed above in preparing her report, submitted to Harper Court Future Steering Committee February 4, 2008. The headings and organization wee suggested by Harper Court Arts council in its June 2006 document.
The following will also be in its own page.

The 53rd Street Future Steering Committee,
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Development Committee
RFP guidelines task force: Gary Ossewaarde (chair), Trish Morse, Charles Newsome

*Harper Court*: Draft Guidelines for RFP and Possible Points for Priority Survey
By Patricia Morse - February 4, 2008

*Gateway to 53rd Street Business District*
1. Pedestrian friendly on Lake Park, 53rd, and Harper Avenue to welcome into the space
2. Flexible design for changing needs
3. Relate to the 53rd Street streetscape—modern design with sensitivity to the three-story brick buildings and redone Hyde Park Bank building as its immediate neighbors.
4. Destination –needs dramatic design, signage
5. ADA accessibility
6. Environmentally friendly (e.g., rooftop garden, green technology, trees

*Mixed Use Development*
7. Recreational
a. Opportunities for teenagers (e.g., skateboard park)
8. Shopping
a. Clothing
b. Specialty stores
c. Stores that serve the arts (e.g., sewing, crafts, art supplies, fiber art)
d. Art galleries
e. Major retail
9. Nightlife
a. Cinema
b. Theatre/performance space
c. Spaces for poetry readings, smaller interactive performances
d. Music
10. Dining
a. Sidewalk café
b. Bars
c. "Destination" dining
11. Office space
a. Small businesses and professionals
b. Space for services (e.g., veterinarian)
12. Residential (e.g., Upper story residential)

*Public Space for Street Level Activity*
13. Large public space (e.g., for Farmers' Market, Art Festivals, Concerts)
14. Spaces for impromptu gatherings (chess tables)
15. Landscaping—trees, seating, flowers
16. Well-lit ambiance at night

17. Multilevel parking garage to serve it and the Hyde Park business district
18. Available day and night
19. Unobtrusive parking at the back of the development or underground
20. Unobtrusive truck delivery (along 52nd?)

*Carry Forward the Original Purpose of Harper Court*
21. Space for small businesses, artisans, and cooperative art galleries
22. Provide subsidies/"affordable" rents to nurture local artisans
23. Space for interactive entertainment (e.g., music, poetry, art)

*Developer Must Present Development Plans for Public Comment*




In other news affecting 53rd Street,

New on the street: CHANT restaurant, relocated Kilamanjaro. Watch for Jerry Kleiner's restaurant on the north edge of Harper Court- now open.

BP Connect/Wild Bean Cafe and McDonald 's and Borders were the "first fruits" of new development in the TIF district. The increment of taxes they bring matter toward being able to fund a parking garage as well as having a steady rate of commercial stock renewal. Little has actually been developed since these noted developments, although the Theater bldg. project starts spring 2008.

About the U of C Retail Survey

From minutes of the November 2007 TIF meeting: University od Chicago 2007 Retail Market study: Susan campbell, of UC, presented the results of a retail survey conducted by the University. 12,000 of t he University's students were surveyed, with a 12% response rate, as well as 300 area residents in a phone survey. Among items discussed were- the core area boundaries (47th Street to the Woodlawn neighborhood, and from Washington Park to the Lakefront). The survey results also reported on an expanded boundary, called a Trade area, defined by 31st to 87th Streets, and from the Dan Ryan Expressway (I 90-94) to the Lakefront, and a subset, defined by Pershing Rd. to 67th street, and from King Drive to the Lakefront. She spoke to the point that these areas are what retailers look at when determining store location,s as well as population and income levels within these boundaries. The area also The areas also represent drive times to locations, expressed in time periods up to 15 minutes. she commented that the results were not as strong as retailers usually like to see when making decisions to locate stores within the trade area.

From Gary Ossewaarde's take on remarks at the meeting: Susan Campbell, UC assistant vice president, discussed results of a retail needs and potential study of the larger area of draw and a neighborhood survey. Demographics shown on maps, spread out nature of the business corridors, lack of big spaces and uneven to sparse offerings are among the difficulties to attracting new retail. Parking was said not to be a respondent concern. Shoppers complaints were about the look and feel, lack of selection and variety and of basics as well as entertainment. Facilities were considered outdated and not comporting to modern size requirements and business plans that renew the look every five years. It appears we need to stress advantages business site searches don't look at, such as the students, rebuild our ability to supply basics, and re grow population with spendable income. Objections were made this that leaves out the large number in Hyde Park and around that have some money to spend if the selection were there but cannot support or afford high end retailers, and that there would have to be lots of new people (as Campbell said) when we are landlocked by the Lake and Washington Park and Jackson Park.

More: TIF home, TIF advisory council meetings, Development, Business Climate and happenings, Harper Court home, Tracking Community Trends.

Harper Theater

Hyde Park Theatre. Vacation was complete and demolition and reconstruction were expected to start spring 2008 for new shops, a restaurant and more. The University's process of request for proposals and community review input were praised as excellent. Developers are Brinshore and Baum

Are remarks and position in news publications a hindrance to people coming together to find new ways forward and new planning? One example, Maroon January 11 2008.

In January the Chicago Maroon continued to give a militant take on the Co-Op's closure, saying in articles and especially editorials that the Co-op was a bad store that was a bulwark of community "anti-corporate" and anti development stances, and it's demise not only is a harbinger of better retail so students wont have to travel but first step in remaking the whole neighborhood. Editorial phrases included "shareholders delivered a blow to protectionism's stranglehold on Hyde Park." "This is a positive step but it should be only the first of many in a new era of Hyde Park Development." "Unfortunately, local activists have long opposed such economic development" and promote an "anti-corporate mentality that has stalled Hyde Park."

The Two Hyde Parks: The battle for the neighborhood's soul

[This article points to a divide in perceptions about the neighborhood's character and needs and how they affect retail development, applying the Cultural Amenities Project/Scenes Theory studies pursued by Prof. Rothfield at U of C that charts the character of neighborhoods by their characteristics. In some ways, the division is so heated the sides cannot decide whether the other is "conservative" or "radicalized," "the elitists/establishment" or "insurgents." Majorities in each side can agree on most--but not certain key--specific proposed changes yet so many in each camp view the other as disruptive enemies of them and of the good of the neighborhood. Often ignored, the article points out, is what the neighborhood now ("already") has. PS, the division is in this editor's perception not quite as generational as the article seems to say, knowing many of different ages on the two or three sides and since many of those leading the change charge are near or in retirement. Nor is it wholly town-gown: nearly all on both sides have affiliations and very often affections for the University regardless of what they feel about what the University does or seeks. Perhaps some of this blurring comes precisely because, as the author points out, consumption constellations have taken their place alongside class, race, gender, workplace, religion, ethnicity, and shared culture or experience as markers of cultural alignment. The article gives caution alike to those who want Hyde Park a hip "destination" or stay (stolid-residential-unique or boring, you choose) and to the University that feels the need to make the neighborhood attractive to students, faculty and their families and donors-investors alike. GMO]

Chicago Weekly News, January 24, 2008. By John Thompson:

One of the most conservative neighborhoods in Chicago is in the midst of an insurgency. Hyde Park, traditionally the province of the University of Chicago, bookstores, and a surprisingly long-sustained DIY culture, has recently heard an ever-louder contingent calling for "commercial development" of the storied South Side corridor. The different parties interest the observer not so much because of their disparate stories (and they are surpassingly polarized), but for the ferocious articulation of their views. The recent storm of controversy surrounding the closing of the Co-op Market and, to a lesser extent, the fate of the old Doctors Hospital, has served as the most prominent expression of a heretofore latent tension between a younger generation of U of C affiliates and established residents. The traditionalists, represented by organizations such as the Hyde Park Historical Society and the Hyde Park Herald, are painted as isolationist and unimaginative by their opponent in advocating a particular kind of Hyde Park development that calls for intense community soul-searching. Meanwhile, younger, impatiently forward-looking voices exemplified by Chicago Maroon columnist Alec Brandon and witty, acid-tongued blog Hyde Park Progress call for swift reform and commercial development, all the time being derided by established residents for being too young, and therefore too fleetingly engaged, to be trusted. All the while, the elephant in the neighborhood, the University of Chicago, casts its shadow over these camps--the two Hyde Parks.

Though the volatile critical melange in Hyde Park is the raison d'etre for this essay, it is not my intention to parse the various strings of thought that attend each side. After all, both the establishment and the insurgents hold the integrity of Hyde Park in great esteem, and both wish to make the neighborhood an even better place to live. They differ on how to accomplish the latter goal. What gets lost in discussion, however is t he thoughtful consideration of hat Hyde Park already has.

The Cultural Amenities Project (CAP) at the University of Chicago has recently engaged in controversial research that seeks to document "scenes," or constellations of related cultural and consumer amenities in urban spaces. the study is not least controversial because of its methods, which attempt to document qualitative characteristics of urban amenities in quantitative terms. Regardless, the forthcoming work provides an exceptional tool for analyzing modern urban experience by recognizing that in post-industrial cities, residents' experiences are not organized simply by shared relations to the means of production, per Marxist doctrine, but by shared forms of consumption. Put simply, a "scene" is space "within which different kinds and aspects of consumption are given symbolic meaning." Whereas a neighborhood traditionally structures urban experience as a space of residence, with meaning generated by neighborly or kinship ties, and a manufacturing or corporate district[] structure[s] experience as a space of production, with meaning generated by workplace relations and forms of production, a scene structures urban experience as a space of consumption, where meaning is generated by forms of consumption held in common. Different forms of consumption structure individual and group experiences of urban space. For example, the idea of an "Asian restaurant scene" recognizes the determinations made b an exotic locale offering foreign cuisine on experiencing city or local life, rather than by families, neighborhoods, or workplaces. Scene theory's most practical application lies in its ability to analyze the role of culture in urban development by understanding the values of a community through what it consumes. Such implications come with the groundbreaking insight that traditional social markers like class, race, and gender are no longer the prime determinants of cultural alignment.

Results form this research can turn head. The CAP's reach is national. Compiling statistics on the available commercial amenities from 40,000 ZIP codes and then assigning varying qualitative scores to each amenity, the researchers have been able to document, however crudely, the traits that make a "scene" locally and culturally specific, based on categories and subcategories that account for the kind of authority, legitimacy, and self-presentation different amenities provide.

At the theoretical level, "scenes theory" offers an insight that both sides in the Hyde Park development debate can benefit from, namely that commercial amenities do not arise like dei ex machina but in relation to a community's shared interests and values. In other words, Hyde Park supports amenities that have a Hyde Park character. On a practical level, the CAP's documentation of neighborhood amenities confirms what we already suspect about Hyde Park's values--its neighborly, utilitarian, egalitarian mien--and indicates the institutions the neighborhood is likely to support. It's difficult to imagine something transgressive and expressive, like a punk rock cafe, making it in Hyde Park.

For the forward-looking camp that would like to see Hyde Park become a hip 'hood a la Wicker Park, the new research shows that such a transformation is likely impossible; as University of Chicago Professor Larry Rothfield told Newcity, "For Hyde Park to look like Wicker Park it'd have to turn itself inside out." Most importantly, scenes theory demonstrates, perhaps to the chagrin of everybody and not just to the vocal young crowd, that if Hyde Park is boring it's because, well, the people here are boring--residents and students alike. For the University of Chicago, an establishment burdened with the impossible onus of balancing neighborhood and institutional interests, scene theory means that the school cannot outrun its own shadow. The conservatism evinced by the University's leading intellectual lights and manifested in those classy Gothic quads is infectious, and it can't be conveniently shed in the University's attempts to make Hyde Park a cool place to live.

Finally, Hyde Park's scene might best be understood as the hybridized confluence of competing interests, not unlike the best average outcome that benefits all participants in a free market scenario. Commercial amenities in Hyde Park may not capture the ideal for either the establishment or the young, progressive crowd, but they appeal enough to both camps to make those amenities viable. Hence we have the Checkerboard lounge, which doubles as a music club and a traditional landmark, though not playing the most cutting edge music for the undergraduate hipsters and not completely recreating the authentic urban grit of the original Bronzeville haunt.

The twin pulls of wanting to be hip and wanting to remain "Hyde Park" might best be exemplified in Jerry Kleiner's restaurant dilemma, not the Co-op controversy or the debate about the Doctors Hospital. Kleiner, considered to be a miracle-working restaurateur, was set to open his newest restaurant in Harper Court over a year ago, but the opening has been delayed because--of all reasons--Kleiner can't find a name for the place that the entire community will like. As he told Chicago Magazine : "If al goes well, it'll open the first week in March. But we still don't have a name. I'm getting the community involved, and everybody's got names. I've heard thousands. They are all over the place. One guy says Black Cat; another guy says you can't do black. Other suggestions are too white-sounding. What's wrong with the name Hyde Park Grill? It's in London: It's in New York. It's not hip enough for them. If someone comes up with an incredible name--something that feeds the needs of a diverse community--I'll buy them an incredible meal with champagne at Room 21." Even labels for commercial amenities are sticking points for Hyde Parkers, demonstrating the extent to which different people think the neighborhood and its institutions should represent different things. Then there are those who, like me, just want the damn place to open. Fine dining never hurt anyone.


53rd Street planning and visioning, started by fits in the early 1990s, receives a new push at 53rd Street Vision Workshop December 8.

The call. Release after the workshop by Irene Sherr. Summary. From December 2007 Conference Reporter. More background. Coverage and letters/emails/blogs.

Planning continues for step 2 (step 1 was the Dec.8 Visioning Workshop): Feb. 26 community forum on Harper Court guidelines.
Herald report on collaborative movement toward planning

Hyde Park Herald January 23 2008, by Sam Cholke

A dozen members of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) Zoning and Development Committee met Jan. 10 to hash out plans for how the group would be involved in the future development at Harper Court, 5211 S. harper Ave.

"Harper Court has been a mangled mess," said George Rumsey, president of the HP-KCC. "It needs to be Apache in a reasonable way so that it's not more of a mess." Rumsey and the other member of HPKCC stated a desire to be involved in the process of developing the site as one voice of the community. "It always feels like something will happen tomorrow," said Jack Spicer, who added that Hyde Parkers want to be involved before something happens to ensure it benefits the community.

The members of the HPKCC agreed what a community workshop similar to the Dec. 8 53rd street vision Workshop would be a sensible way to involve the many disparate voices of Hyde Park, assuming that the workshop accurately represented the many groups in the neighborhood. The group expressed concern that if the forum were not representative of most it would not be effective.

"Some people will not come no matter how much we invite them," said Aaron Cook, a partner at Romero Cook Design Studio..."Will the plan hold any weight?" "People will look at it--that has weight," said Church Thurow, a council member on the 53d Street TIF Advisory Council. But the outcome of the workshop would not hold any legal weight, said Thurow.

"We need to involve the community before there is a negative reaction to a proposal," Pat wilcoxen said. "So far, the African American community has not been represented well."

The group repeatedly came back to the idea of inclusiveness. They said they did not want to move forward endorsing any plan unless a broad swathe of the community had had the chance to weigh in on it.

Irene sherr, a community consultant and organizer for the 53rd Street Vision Workshop, said that local officials involved in planning the future of Harper Court have been very receptive to community input, from her experience. She said the Dec. 8 workshop was received very positively and future workshop would likely be received in an equally positive manner. Sherr said t hat the last workshop produced firm data that many people in the community want the same sorts of businesses and opportunities in the neighborhood.

At the end of the night, Sherr and the members of HPKCC agreed to work together in planning future community workshops. Top

Coverage of the January 23 53rd/Harper Court Future Steering Committee/HPKCC Development Committee meeting

Hyde Park Herald, January 30, 2008. By Sam Cholke

HP-KCC moving on Harper Court planning: Organizing forum, "hands-on" design workshops

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) decided Jan. 23 to draft suggestions for any request for proposal (RFP) involving the redevelopment of Harper Court, 5211 S. Harper Ave., as well as sketching out some ideas of what a redeveloped harper Court might look like.

"An RFP is simply suggestions [for development]. You're not committed to anything," said George Rumsey, president of HP-K CC. "Our role is to come up with things we feel need to be in an RFP that can be reasonably met."

Rumsey said suggestions submitted to the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council need to establish minimums for an RFP, not minimums.

"Harper Court can't satisfy everything we desire," said Pat Wilcoxen, HP-K CC member and program director for Interfaith Open Communities.

The conference decided to distill the current guidelines for Harper Court drafted by various community groups over recent years into a single working document for the conference to start from. The HP-K CC RFP suggestions will be largely based on the Harper Court Arts Council's "Guiding Principles to be Incorporated into RFP" draft from July 10, 2006, and the data compiled from the Dec. 8 53rd street Vision Workshop. [Ed.- The latter said very little on Harper Court-- the committee is using the suggestions from the HPKCC 2006 Harper Court Workshops, similar to what was said about 53rd Dec. 8. --but final decision will be made by the large steering committee Feb. 4. Gary Ossewaarde.]

"No one has to pay attention to anything we say," Rumsey said. "We want to have viable advice." Suggestions for guiding an RFP are general and don't try to pin a development down to a specific number of stories or tenants, Rumsey said.

"Development should be of a size and configuration that complements the Hyde Park business streetscape, and is pedestrian friendly," reads the Arts Council's 2006 draft guidelines.

Rumsey said the HP-K CC guidelines for a Harper Court RFP should be close to finalized at the next meeting, Feb. 26, so they can be submitted to the TIF advisory council at their March 10 meeting.

Jack Spicer, a member of the Hyde Park Historical Society, and Aaron Cook, a planner with Romero Cook Design Studio, will be working with interested community members to draft an architectural rendering of what Harper Court could look like. "Visualization is good," Rumsey said. "Visuals often help you think about it." Cook will be working pro bono on the renderings. "We're trying to take all of these thoughts and put them into drawings," Cook said.

Cook and Spicer will meet for the firs time with community members interested in the project at 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. Spicer said it will be a working meeting and not a lecture.

The conference will continue soliciting community input on Harper court through an online survey and other methods yet to be determined. Top



From Irene Sherr, Community Counsel, for Ald. Preckwinkle, the TIF and other organizers of the Workshop. (See a more complete report, in draft, in http://www.53rdvision.org.)

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) and Hyde Park community organizations host 3rd St. Vision Workshop

Despite frigid temperatures and an early morning start time, close to 200 Hyde Park and South Side residents packed the gymnasium of Canter Middle school on December 8, 2007 for a half-day workshop to discuss future development of 53rd Street, Hyde Park's primary commercial business corridor and an important shopping hub for the mid-south side of Chicago.

Using technology provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), attendees were able to vote on development priorities and see their preferences reflected in real-time.

Results from the day's polling revealed several themes for 53rd Street including an almost universal desire for:

In general, there appeared to be strong consensus among attendees regarding major issues. For example:

The information culled from the workshop will be shared with city planners and reflected in future request for proposals (RFPs) to developers.



December 8. between 150 and 200 (including a quorum of the HPKCC board), packed into Canter School gymnasium for "53rd Street Vision Workshop" to discuss with city and regional planners and discuss and vote at tables on options, standards, and desires for a renewed 53rd Street and heart of the business district. The spirit was cordial although there was some confusion and resistance to the argument for more density to support retail and make a more vital community (and its services more cost effective) --indeed, Hyde Park becoming a regional center according to regional planners. Most wanted more follow up. This page contains many takes, most enthusiastic, about the meeting and a brief report by the coordinator that includes responses to other questions. HPKCC's expanded Development Committee is beginning a process of review and formation of a broader collaborative, maybe with professional help, study and input process. Concerns about one question on a mid-rise have been put to rest.
Visit Development pages navigator. TIF News. 2000 Vision for Hyde Park Retail District.
HPKCC Workshops on Harper Court.

From 2008 TIFormation, annual publication of the 53rd TIF

53rd Street Vision Workshop Success

(Pics: Ald. Preckwinkle welcomes residents to the 53rd St. Vision Workshop; Workshop participants met in small groups to answer questions about their preferences for the future of 53rd St.; Workshop participants expressed a desire for mixed use infill development instead of surface parking lots, vacant lots and strip malls on 53rd St. )

Close to 200 Hyde Park and South Side residents packed the gymnasium of Canter Middle School for a half day workshop to discuss future development of 53rd street, Hyde Pak's primary commercial business corridor and an important shopping hub for the mid-south side of Chicago.

The 53rd Vision Workshop, held on December 8, 2007, was sponsored by 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and a coalition of local organizations including the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Interfaith Open Communities, and the South East Chicago Commission.

Using technology provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), attendees were able to vote on development priorities and see their preferences reflected in real-time.

Results from the day's polling revealed several consistent themes for 53rd street including an almost universal desire for:

The keynote presentation on The Benefits of Density by Sam Assefa, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago, illuminated many of the positive impact that density can have on the environment.

Participants were enthusiastic in their assessment of the workshop. Jeff Edstrom noted that "the tone of the workshop was fantastic ...and the excitement was really palpable.". Others welcomed the opportunity to voice their opinions. "I felt very food about being here. I learned a lot and felt I contribute to the meeting by voting." Alderman Preckwinkle said that the information culled from the workshop will be shared with City of Chicago planners and reflected in future requests for proposals (RFPs) to developers.

Poling results and presentations from the workshop along with other TIF information is available from www.vision53.org.

January 14 TIF meeting report on the December 8 workshop and related announcements

Alderman Preckwinkle announced that the TIF Business and Environment Committee and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference will work together on a on open community planning process for Harper Court RFP. She would not state any preclusions on the type of development or degree of change. ...

Alderman's Report: Toni Preckwinkle. She thanked the council members. She read highlights from TIFormation, stressing the vision workshop- and those who collaborated to produce it- and said there will be at least one more broad-focus meeting: "only a beginning." ...

Harper Court. HPKCC and the TIF Committee will work on an open process. At the March meeting the Dept. of Planning will present on Harper RFP. She anticipated that after a request is vetted for review, then sent to developers, it will take up to 90 days to receive resumes, and more time to review and winnow in committee, and be about a year before an award is made.

The Alderman called for one or two additional general and broad workshops on 53rd then site focus. ...

Report on the 53rd Visioning Workshop December 8. The next phase would explore themes such density and achieving cohesive planning as opposed to piecemeal or reactive planning. A full report will be issued once all the comments and votes from the table were studied--Irene Sherr said many important ideas came out of these that were suppressed in favor of big themes in the room-wide voting.

Hubert Morgan of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) discussed the major findings and distributed a set of pie charts. He said the overall agency goal for Hyde Park in the years up to 2040 is that Hyde Park be a "destination of choice." Morgan praised the residents for coming out in force, clearly people here feel strongly. The methods included both small table interaction with facilitators and room-wide voting on options derived from the tables.

Their first task in such exercises is to learn "who is in the room," Morgan said. The audience didn't wholly reflect demographics, but most demographics were there. Disproportionately represented were older (25% aged 5-59, 20% 60-69), whites (54%), and females (59%). In housing types the audience was very diverse. Most walked to the workshop (on a cold day) (53%, 31% in personal car- 6% were from outside Hyde Park). What type of housing? (35% single-family home, 27% high rise apartment, 24% multi-family home, 11% two- or three-flat). How long did they live here? (43% over 20 years, another 18% 11-20 years, and the rest closely divided among 6-10, 2-5, and under 2).

The sense of what the street should look like was gauged: Given first place in value were mixed use buildings (24%), variety of retail (23%), Green with trees and landscaped (16%), visually attractive (13%). Receiving single-digit priority were Sidewalk cafes, Off-street parking in the rear, stores close to the curb, upper floors residential, buildings in good repair, and green all year.

What should go in the buildings? 52% selected mixed use retail and residential. 18% 24-hour activities and late night options, 5% Trader Joe's, and lesser numbers small-scale entertainment, clothing stores, higher density retail, mixed income housing, restaurants, and mix of national chains--most really specifications within the first two categories.

What should the buildings look like? 45 percent said a mixture of historical and well designed modern buildings, echoed by those who specified continued use of traditional buildings (7%) and mixed use (17%). Others called for height limitations (8%) or 3-4 story tall buildings (6%- together 14%) or specified patios and balconies, rooftop gardens, underground and off street parking (7%), or no visible security gates.

What activities will people engage in? 39% opted ford shopping, the next highest was night life including bars, dancing, movies (12%). Lesser numbers chose interactive entertainment, recreational entertainment which reinforced the second option. Others selected personal use such as walking or sitting or churches (7%) or interacting (5%- together 12%), youth programs and activities (6%) or residential living.

Noting that the energy level was high at the workshop, Morgan said that attendees valued for the street diversity-- proud of it and valued it, followed by physical good look, pedestrian friendliness, environmentally sensitive, and providing options. An audience member commented on the small number of usage responses for such obvious uses as office, or what might be overabundant now. Irene Sherr said such were in the table answers below top rank and would be given use weight when these are counted up. Services such as doctors, for example, were highly rated as an activity on 53rd Street. Parking concern was another. She suggested that such be explored more in the follow up workshop on what would it actually look like (a comment she had heard from many). She stressed the strongest expressions were for shopping, variety, outdoor activities.

Questions/comments. One said community groups should have been asked to co-design the questions and study them in advance. Sherr said the choices were not prepared in advance but from what was tops in the table sheets. Another said another big question could have been where you eat or buy food and what role should 53rd have in those activities. Sherr said the table responses did reflect this, especially in giving food (as well as entertainment) as top things people have to leave Hyde Park to get.

Another person said the presenters "pushed" diversity but didn't explain or distinguish well within the concept and noted concern with the last question on a mid rise somewhere. Assurances were given that the last question will not be used to legitimize a particular design. Males said the TIF and its committees only pass on specific proposals, with general guidelines in mind, and do not ask a developer to come with this or that design.

In response to another question, Males said the purpose of this exercise is not to engage in social science research, pay for market surveys, or hold a "referendum."



About, from the December 2007 Conference Reporter. Followed by general background, Call by Irene Sherr, and Herald notice.

53rd Street workshop in December Catches Development at the Crossroads

From the December 2007 Conference Reporter

by Gary Ossewaarde

As development and retail questions reach a critical juncture in our neighborhood, the HPKCC Board and Development, Preservation, and Zoning committee have been discussing how we can contribute to the ongoing debate. A leader in Hyde Park and mid-South repositioning, Hank Webber, is leaving and will be sorely missed. Harper Court is about to issue its Request for Qualifications to developers. Members of the Hyde Park Co-op are asked to take the most serious vote in its history. The next TIF meeting could have a crowded agenda, and at the least has as backdrop Harper Court, 53rd/Kenwood (Mobil site), 53rd/Cornell, and updates on the Harper Theatre redevelopment. Outside the TIF are 56th/Cornell, Doctors Hospital, and more. And there is the market and economy.

There is the tug of war between those anxious for more development (retail or residential) and those who want less or none and over differing visions about the kind of neighborhood we want to live in. Others point out that Hyde Park development, despite a recent city Zoning Ordinance that invites community-wide planning, proceeds piecemeal and by exception, in reality holding it back. And the city also turns its back on strategic planning and deep-sixes revenue sharing by raising parking costs and property taxes steeply--to get revenue rather than to manage or tailor growth.

Our board and committee take into account findings from the workshops and forums HPKCC has held over the past five years, current proposals and rebuttals to them, residents’ fruitful letters and redevelopment schemes sent to the Herald and to us, and principles from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and private foundations: principles, sometimes competing, that include transit oriented development, pedestrian-friendly scale and streetscape, incubating new and small businesses, adaptive reuse, inspiring architecture, green and sustainable structures, a mix of incomes, maintaining affordability. And we ponder what we can salvage from the shelved 2000 Vision for Hyde Park Retail District prepared by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and the city.

One of our conclusions is that no one organization but rather the whole community and its many organizations together must advance to the next step. In fact, at the July 2007 TIF meeting an exercise in commercial street and development planning involving an outreach by the University of Minnesota’s Corridor Housing Initiative was discussed. The potential of such a workshop was described in the October Conference Reporter along with warnings against retail development for misguided objectives. Such a convened “vision workshop” is now at hand and the Conference is among its sponsors.

We urge our members to attend the Come Vote: 53rd St. Vision Workshop December 8, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. Browse our Development-related pages in hydepark.org for background articles and an array of neighbor’s ideas and reactions—and come prepared to think outside the box.

Be aware that the workshop follows close upon the inaugural open meeting of the new Coalition for Equitable Development (December 5, 7 pm at the Neighborhood Club), likely disclosure of new plans for the Mobil Site (based upon intent of Alderman Preckwinkle to seek lifting of current height restrictions there), Village Center at 51st and Lake Park, and 53rd and Cornell, and possible consideration of alternatives for the Hotel project at Doctors Hospital. Keep in mind also projects that seem to be moving toward successful ends—the Theater redevelopment, 56thCornell (if the school is accommodated), and prospectively, just maybe, Doctors Hospital. Then plug in your thoughts, hopes, ideals for Harper Court and 53rd Street.

More Background

Community leaders, organizations and business people started looking at lagging and deterioration on the 53rd business district in the 1990s. In the closing decades of the century, the Community Conservation Council (with oversight over urban renewed properties for 50 years thereafter), South East Chicago Commission, Hyde Park Development Corporation, Harper Court Foundation, HPKCC, Kimbark Plaza,and others were looking at the matter and found the problems difficult to address- getting facades rehabbed and Harper Court bought up to code and modernized, street people, dirt and drab, or coexisting with the local movie theater.

The first real push in the middle 1990s was a multi-organization Ad Hoc Committee for 53rd street, under 501 Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. After many real improvement projects, retreats and work with professional planners, the Ad Hoc zeroed in on a special taxing body or SSA to gain a stream of income and carry out improvements including parking. That idea fell apart and with it the Ad Hoc Committee.

Late in the decade a new impetus was engagement of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development and Skidmore, Owings, Merrill. This resulted in a published study, A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District (read in its own page) A key finding then being need for a parking garage, streetscape, and standards for a pedestrian-friendly street and more. The next was proposal and implementation of the 53rd Street Commercial District Tax Increment Financing District in 2000.

Progress and accomplishment under both have been slow. And complicated rather than sped by effort of the Harper Court Foundation to sell the shopping center and slough off their public original purposes to support small and arts businesses. A highlight was the process for redevelopment of the Theater building by the University.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference started in 2002 a number of workshops that touched upon or directly asked citizens to help plan a new future for 53rd Street and retail in the neighborhood: Future of 53rd Street, What's Right/Wrong with Hyde Park?, and two on Harper Court. Harper Court redevelopment became certain under a request for qualifications/request for proposals program for the Court with the adjacent city parking lot.

There has been criticism of the TIF Advisory Council ( a unique body in Chicago) as doing very little and being too much under the thumb of the alderman and a few business leaders and not engaging the imagination of the citizens. Responses to all these or not, the December 8 workshop is an opportunity to move forward. The parking committee of t he TIF. began working with the city on ideas for a kind of SSA, a Parking or Transit Improvement District that has worked in some other cities. Irene Sherr, counsel to the TIF, with others identified national organizations that come and help a community plan its district, taking into account all the economics and practical, realty, community factors, and the realities about density. The idea for the workshop was rolled out at a TIF meeting in summer 2007.

Here is the call, put out by Irene Sherr in October 2007.

Come Vote: 53rd St. Vision Workshop. Signup at 53vision@hydeparkchicago.org or call 4th ward office, 773 536-8103. .

Dear Community Leaders:

Alderman Preckwinkle, the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, the SECC, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Interfaith Open Communities, are planning a 53rd St. Vision Workshop for December 8, from 8:30 AM to 1 PM, at Canter Middle School. Additional support and technical assistance for the workshop will be provided by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the University of Chicago.

The goal of the workshop is to develop a shared vision and priorities for the future development in the 53rd St. TIF district. The results of the workshop will provide valuable information to elected officials, local government, property owners, the 53rd St. TIF Council and developers as they consider development opportunities in Hyde Park.

We hope to engage a broad cross-section of the community in this workshop and would welcome your assistance by promoting this event to your board and/or membership. Plans for the workshop include a guest speaker, facilitated small group discussions and use of electronic keypads to prioritize preferences for development. Continental breakfast and lunch is also included. More details will be available shortly.

We hope you will personally attend and actively promote this opportunity for civic engagement. We will gladly provide you with invitations, flyers as well as electronic versions to share. ...

Herald November 14: Planners convene 53rd St. workshop. By Yvette Presberry

Residents, students and community leaders are invited to discuss ideas for mixed-use and mixed-income development during the 53rd Street Vision Workshop at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. Registration will be held until 9 a.m., and the workshop will follow until 1 p.m.

"The idea for this has been percolating for a while, that there has been a feeling... that really we needed some opportunity and a forum to help build a consensus of the neighborhood about future development," said Irene Sherr, founder of Community Counsel, a Hyde Park-based planning and development firm.

Some topics for discussion include affordable housing, local small businesses, parking solutions an future development.

"We want people to know that if they come, their opinion matters," Sherr said.

Representatives from the city's Dept. of planning and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning are also assisting with ideas and resources.

"There has to be some kind of process for getting community input into development, then development," said Howard Males, council chair of the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District.

December 12 Herald report of meeting, by Sam Cholke

More than 150 people gathered Saturday at Canter Middle School, 4954 S. Blackstone Ave., for the 53rd Street vision Workshop and voted overwhelmingly to see more retail in Hyde Park in mixed-use buildings.

"We need to replace every business that's been closed--that's around 27 businesses," said Hyde Parker Julie Levinson.

Hyde Park residents said in the informal, on-site poll that they wanted 53rd street populated with more shopping and entertainment options that utilized existing buildings or were housed in tastefully done new development.

"People agreed with me more than I thought," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th).

Generally, people tended toward a similar vision for the future of 53rd street in the breakout sessions: more retail, more entertainment options an put limits on development over four stories. Conflict didn't surface at the meeting until the final poll question of the day: Would you be willing to accept a mid-rise unit in the 53rd Street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District? A mid-rise, as defined during the meeting, is a building consisting of 30-50 residential units per acre [Ed.- it was also defined as substantial and--key-- 8-10 stories.] The TIF district runs as far west along 53rd street as Woodlawn Avenue and east to Cornell Avenue. TIF districts reserve increases in property tax for decades and can use that pot of money for local development. The local alderman--Preckwinkle, in this case--generally controls spending.

"We're worried that our vote on this could be used to indicate support for a development in an area we don't want to see," said Robin Kaufman. [Note: this was effectively put to rest at the January 14 2008 TIF meeting.]

Howard Males, chair of the 53rd street TIF council, said some of the concerns he heard about a potential mid-rise building were unfounded. Males said he is concerned with where people would accept a mid-rise development, but with regard to funding, many people were unnecessarily worried."What they don't realize is that, wherever the mid-rise goes in the neighborhood, it doesn't matter," Males said. "The money stays in the district."

Sam Assefa, director of land use and planning policies for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, said much of what people were asking for was a function of density. "Density creates vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, and this is critical," Assefa said. "It is important, for cities to be competitive, that they need to be very livable."

Growing neighborhoods compactly greatly reduces the funds needed for infrastructure and police and fire services, Assefa said. As a neighborhood becomes denser, the need for parking is reduced because more day-to-day activities and errands are within easy walking distance. As density doubles, the amount people need to drive is reduced by 30 percent, Assefa said. "That has a significant environmental and societal impact," Assefa said "The denser [your neighborhood] is, the more likely it is you will use public transportation."

Despite Assefa's initial comments, many breakout groups still found parking to be an issue. Hyde Parker Ann Lindnen said there was a need to rework parking so it is not confusing and people have easy access to businesses. "Cars distract from the environment around us," Lindnen said. Maybe underground parking would be an option, Lindnen said. People are very passionate about parking, she said.

Regardless of parking, the most common desire to come out of the working groups was more retail and entertainment options. Kay Wulf said her group discussed better quality retail, like boutiques and places to buy clothing. "Most people leave the neighborhood to do their shopping," Wulf said. We need more quality restaurants and bars, too, she said. "There is no place to go with a friend to get a glass of wine when you want to get out of the house," Wulf said.

Anita West brought up a need for more 24-hour businesses in the neighborhood and a mix of national and locally owned businesses.

Well, we think we need an outdoor market," said Harriet Eldridge. Eldridge said her breakout group also wanted more restaurants and places to go for entertainment, like a movie theater.

Preckwinkle said the ideas she heard at the workshop would be distributed and discussed with the TIF council, the city and developers. we have a number of development plans coming over the next few years, she said. "We want people thinking about 53rd Street," Preckwinkle said. Top

Weekly News coverage January 10 2007:Takin' it to 53rd Street- Conversations on the future of Hyde Park's main strip (and how TIFs can fail). By Keith Romero

On December 14 [sic-Dec. 8], despite frigid temperatures and an early morning start time, close to 200 Hyde Park and South Side residents packed the gymnasium of Canter Middle School for a half-day workshop to discuss the future development of 53rd Street, the community's primary commercial and business corridor and an important shopping hub for the mid-south side of Chicago.

The 53rd Vision Workshop was sponsored by Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and a coalition of local institutional and community organizations including the 53rd Street TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Advisory Council, the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Interfaith Open communities, and the South East Chicago Commission (SECC).

"The turnout certainly exceeded our expectation. This represents a major step forward in ensuring that the priorities and preferences of the community are reflected in development proposals for 53rd street," said Alderman Preckwinkle.

53rd Street, as one of Chicago's many TIF districts in Chicago, has illustrated that tax increment financing may fail because of its very premise. Developed in the State of California an quickly adopted as a pet project of Mayor Daley, tax increment financing allows municipalities to borrow against future revenue from property taxes. Loans go to improving area infrastructure, and that infrastructure in turn increases property value. Taxes from the increased value go toward paying off the original debt. The problem is that increased property value is not necessarily guaranteed. finance is only one variable on the side of the equation that ends in money. People are another. While you could have the best commercial infrastructure in the world, you may not have any people using it to shop.

The keynote presentation on "The Benefits of Density" by urban designer Sam Assefa, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago, addressed many of the concerns people associate with population density. Hyde Park, in fact, has experienced a significant decline in density as a result of urban renewal in the 960s. according to U.s. Census data the population of Hyde Park in 1960 was 65,000. It is now 44,000.

"Density can have a very positive impact on everything from retail to property values to crime and safety, although it often carries negative connotations," said Irene Sherr, an urban planner responsible for organizing the event on behalf of the SECC and Alderman Preckwinkle. "I think participants now have a better understanding of how we can achieve a more energetic an vibrant commercial corridor on 53rd and adjacent areas without compromising the quality of life that attracts so many people to Hyde Park."

Using technology provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, attendees were able to vote on development priorities and see their preferences reflected in real-time.

Results from the polling revealed several recurring themes for 53rd Street: a desire for a greater variety of retail options, development with retail on the ground floor with residential or office space above and a visually clean and attractive environment. In general, t here appeared to be strong consensus among attendees regarding major issues.

To get numerical, fifty-three-percent want to see retail on the ground floor with residential above. Participants also expressed a strong preference for the retail to feature unique shops and specialty stores. When asked what buildings on 53rd should look like, many said structures should reflect a combination of historical and well-designed modern buildings. Sixty-three-percent said they would accept a new 8-10 story mid-rise mixed-use development somewhere within the 53rd Street Tax Increment Finance district. People saw shopping a the dominant activity of 53rd Street, but many wanted to see more entertainment options including cultural venues, movie theaters, and nightlife. This is good news but it is unclear if and how this initial impetus will translate to anything tangible on the storefront.

Alderman Preckwinkle said that the information culled from the workshop will be shared with city planners and reflected in future requests for proposals to developers. While the workshop marks a major step forward in the development process, Preckwinkle urges people to remain engaged so their individual priorities and concerns are heard. "People can, and should, attend the TIF Advisory Council meeting to learn about current development proposals," she said. "In addition, the standing committees of the TIF Advisory Council provide opportunities for residents to participate in reviewing proposed projects." Top

Maroon report January 15, 2008. 53rd Street redevelopment planning continues. By Rhema Hokama

Nearly 200 Hyde Park community members gathered in early December to discuss potential development plans for 53rd Street at an event sponsored by numerous neighborhood organizations. Many residents expressed a desire for wider diversity of retail options and deeper University involvement in the area's future.

Attendees were polled on their development priorities via handheld devices, provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which made results instantly available to the workshop's members . Data from the polling revealed a strong preference for the development of mixed-use buildings: buildings with retail spaced on the ground floor and residential or office space on the upper floors.

"Variety, diversity, and choice were repeated over and over," said Irene Sherr, an urban planner and the primary organizer of the workshop. Individual hand-written responses the the question "What can't you do in Hyde Park?" elicited remarkably similar answers, according to Sherr. Common answers include buying clothes, groceries, and home furnishings, and seeing first-run movies. "People want more choices in shopping, dining, eating, playing, and in just about everything, said Sherr. She noted that while students may have different interests, it seemed likely that they would repeat the call for more entertainment options.

"I was really encouraged to see so many people there," said Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, who also sponsored the event and called the turnout heartening. "I was hoping for 100 and we had nearly 200, with a good mix of the community." Still, she noted that African-Americans were underrepresented. "There was a great turnout with a large cross-section of people from the neighborhood," said Sherr. "When you go through the data, there is a tremendous amount of consensus."

Both Preckwinkle and Sherr said they were pleased by the University's support in planning the events, but expressed a desire for more student involvement in the development process. "We felt the timing was really unfortunate, because the quarter had just ended. We would have loved to have student participation because they're not always represented and documented in census information," said Sherr.

Preckwinkle noted that the University is a major property holder on 53rd Street and has been an active partner in the efforts to focus attention on the location. Susan Campbell, associate vice president in the Office of Community and Government affairs at the University, said that 53d Street is the "town center" of Hyde Park and is a "quality of life feature" that helps to draw faculty, students, and staff members to the University.

"Hyde Park lags behind [the neighborhoods of] other peer institutions," Campbell said. However, she emphasized that the University, while a "key stakeholder with vested interest" in development, will move forward in collaboration with the community. She praised the coalition that organized the Vision Workshop in December, calling it "a good group with balance in terms of interests from different aspects of the community."

In addition to working with the community, the University has solicited student input on neighborhood development plans. Campbell, along with Bill Michel, assistant vice president for student life, convened a student retail working group before the winter break. The group will serve as an advisory board to university administrators, and will meet monthly to discuss different activities taking place in Hyde Park. Campbell encouraged students to "have their voices heard directly in the community. I think the community needs to hear student voice[s]. Up to now, [student] voices haven't been heard as loudly as others.

Jack Spicer praises the Workshop in December 2007

Congratulations to Irene Sherr and the others who organized last Saturday's very successful community workshop concerning new development on 53rd Street. There was a huge attendance, very active participation and many fresh ideas to solve old problems.

it was especially important that we considered ways in which increased population density might be our neighborhood's friend, not its enemy. Everybody knows the horrors of bad development-oversized, monolithic projects that dwarf their neighbors and bring congestion and boredom. But a series of 3-4 story new mixed-use buildings along 53rd Street could bring us a substantial increase in pedestrian street traffic and an exciting new variety of places to live and shop.

Between Harper and Cornell, near Lake Park where we have the Metra train, taller mixed-use buildings (8-10 stories) could bring more people to the street without the usual increased automobile congestion. Smart development knows that one size doesn't fit all.

There was a variety of wonderful ideas expressed at Saturday's workshop and with them I think we can bring some exciting changes to our neighborhood during the next few years. And it is most important to continue the broad community participation that was so evident at Saturdays's workshop as we shape the guidelines for 53rd Street's future development.

Howard Males, TIF chief: Enthusiastic response at 53rd Street meeting.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who took time out of her or his busy holiday schedules to participate in the 53rd Street Vision Workshop Saturday, Dec. 8.

The turnout of close to 200 people certainly exceeded our expectations. More exciting than the absolute numbers was the positive energy throughout the day emanating from the participants. The community's enthusiastic response to the event illustrates the deep interest people share about the future and improvement of 53rd Street.

Over the next few months, the TIF Council plans to review, analyze and synthesize the data from the workshop. The findings will be discussed at an upcoming TIF Council meting. In the meantime, we also plan to make available the data and the presentation on density and other information on a 53rd Street Vision website to be sponsored by the South East Chicago Commission.

We heard that to attract a quality retail mix and create a pedestrian friendly environment (that people indicted they want on 53rd Street), we need more people living an working in close proximity to 53rd Street. This is more important t han ever since Hyde Park's population has decreased since the 1960s, when 65,000 people lived here. Hyde Park now has a residential population of approximately 44,000 people.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) has reiterated her intention to utilize the 53rd Street TIF Council as a forum to review development proposals. It is the responsibility of the TIF Council's Planning and Development Committee to carefully consider proposed developments. All proposals ultimately need to be evaluated based on the context and features associated with the specific site. There is no "one size fit all" approach to development.

On behalf of the Council, I ask for your continued attention and civic engagement to ensure the best outcome for the community. Please contact the SEC at 324-6926 to receive notification of TIF meetings or to become involved with one our committees.

Again, I extend a huge thanks to all who attended. I hope we can hold more visioning workshops in the future and build on both attendance and civic input.

Howard male, Chair, 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, Vice president, South East Chicago Commission

Cal Audrain, former architect/planner for the University, : 53rd Street meeting: Great showing, not a good completion

The workshop on 53rd street held on Saturday, Dec. 8 at [Canter] School was an impressive program. It was wonderful to see so many neighbors turn out on a cold winter morning to share their ideas about the street.

There were two parts of the program that disappointed me. The first is that the series of questions and examples that we were asked to comment upon at our table groups did not all make sense. They had more than a few instances of not comparing apples and oranges, but comparing apples and roast beef. Overall this was probably minor, but I think it led to some skewing of the discussion and voting.

The second, and much more serious concern, is the request at the end of the meeting that we vote on whether we would accept a mid-rise development of eight to 10 stories in the 53rd Street TIF district. Several of us tried to make the case that we would be open to an eight to 10-story development in some sections of the district, but not all. A request to modify the question was rejected.

There is a second problem with this question that did not get raised. Sam Assefa, in his presentation on density, kept emphasizing a distinction between density and the actual building design, but the design can certainly make a difference in how the density is received.

After spending the entire morning discussing ideas for retail use and preferences for mixed use and variety, the illustration of the mid-rise was of a residential-only building. No retail use was illustrated.

This was not a good completion to the exercise.

Grace Dodier: Renewed hopes...

The news from Hyde Park has been hard to accept these past weeks. On Saturday, though, the 53rd Street Vision Workshop at Canter Middle School gave me a renewed sense of confidence in the future of Hyde Park as a safe, vibrant, diverse and welcoming community.

At the workshop, organized by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), the 53rd Street TIF Advisory [Council], the South East Chicago Commission and others, around 150 Hyde Park friends and neighbors shared their hopes and dreams for Hyde Park's future. We were white, African American, Hispanic and Asian, and we wore young (a Boy Scout Troop came to participate!) and middle aged. We talked in small groups for hours about what we want for the 53rd Street business corridor-- a safe, beautiful place to live, shop, walk and visit - and we did so in a cooperative and neighborly manner. As is typical of Hyde Park, not everyone agreed with every idea, but I felt that everyone expressed his or her ideas freely and in good humor.

I have always loved Hyde Park and love tit more today because of my experiences at the Vision Workshop on Saturday. My thanks to the organizers for this opportunity to meet new friends and old neighbors. Their commitment to HydE Park gives me reason to believe that Hyde Park will continue to grow, thrive and be a safe and happy home for my family.


Jack Spicer's follow up thoughts on the 53rd Vision Workshop (most of which is a position paper): parses and applies "density", "diversity", "decentralized decision-making." December 2007. Spicer will be the lead facilitator in the Harper Court subgroup of the HPKCC Development 53rd process "second voice" focus group. A couple of comments by the editor (GMO) follow.

Below are some thoughts about the recent "density workshop" and about other local development issues.

In general, I thought the workshop was really very good - great crowd, lots of enthusiasm, good investigation of the difficult issue of increased population density.

In particular, two important ideas were clearly articulated at the "density workshop":

The workshop helped shed some light for the community on the complex idea of increased population density.

There are three important ideas that were not articulated at the workshop:

Development in Hyde Park is going to happen. Good Development will be very god for us. Bad development is worse than no development .Density, diversity, and decentralized decision making are essential to good development. If the "density workshop" was a sincere beginning to a community conversation about good, indigenous development, then Irene and others will follow the "density workshop" with examinations of "smart" density, "broad" diversity and decentralized decision making. If not, then god help us all - it'll be Urban Renewal Redux, the 50-year anniversary version; and 53rd street will end up just as dead as 55thStreet is, but in a whole new shiny way.

Re: related neighborhood development issues

Our elected officials should help the community articulate clear development guidelines that express our sense of who we are and who we want to be and then establish an independent community development board to review development proposals. Neither the TIF Advisory Council, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, nor the South East Chicago commission do or can fulfill this function. These groups are not independent and the interests of the community are not identical to those of the University, the alderman or the city. The Community Development Board's job would be to independently represent the community and to work closely with the TIF Council, the SECC, an the Chicago DPD. An independent community development process would help the free market to act more freely and would open the community to good developers, minimizing manipulation on behalf of favored friendly developers. We don't need to beg or pay developers to come to our neighborhood. Good developers thrive because they are honest and smart. Bad developers survive because they have powerful friends who cover for their ineptitude. There really are good developers in the world, but it's amazing that any have survived given the way the development process is presently so disrupted by outside influence. Many other communities in Chicago have effective, independent development review groups.

The 53rd & Cornell project and the planned development of the Mobil/ McDonalds site are sad examples of a bad developer being enabled by elected officials. L3 Development has only one completed project in Chicago (Ambassador East) and that was not a success. Everything else they're involved in is stalled, including the 53rd & Cornell project that could well become Hyde Park's very own Block 37, an empty lot for years. L3 over-bid the next buyer by $1.5 million (and paid cash). It's no wonder they "can't make the numbers work." The only advantage to demolishing the buildings at 53rd and Cornell is to L3; they pay less property tax. The next bidder wanted to rehab the existing buildings and their project would have been done by now. And the building designed for L3 is architecturally absolutely boring. We do need a dense development there. It's half a block from the Metra and a block and a half from the Express buses, just perfect for "transit oriented" density. We need a tall, exciting, financially viable project at 53rd and cornell. With any luck L3 will have to sell, at a loss, to a good developer who can do a good development and make some honest money.

The Mobil/McDonalds development is an even sadder example of a bad developer on political life support. The current zoning allows only a 50' high building at this site. L3 assumed it could get a zoning change to allow a taller building and has signed a contract to buy the lots at a million dollars more than anybody else would pay (and has a million tied up in fees that it will lose if it doesn't actually exercise its right to buy). The high selling price was based on the zoning change. Now L3 "needs" to build a mid-rise (8-10 story) building here because it agreed to pay the inflated price for the land. The current zoning allows only a 50' high building and there are many good reasons not to change the zoning to allow a mid-rise project -- this site is nowhere near any public transit where a tall building would be appropriate, this is part of a "pedestrian oriented commercial district" where tall buildings are discouraged by Chicago's new 2004 zoning ordinance, the 2000 "Vision for Hyde Park Retail" document says nothing over 4 stories at this location, and the neighbors have signed petitions against a mid-rise building. And yet, L3 is assuming a change of zoning (thru a Planned Development) to allow an 8-10 story building. I hope this was not the point of the final vote at the "density workshop" to allow a mid-rise building "somewhere" on 53rd Street. If there were no opportunity for a zoning change then the selling price would settle back, through the magic of the free market, to a level reasonable for a good developer to build a 50' high development. It's a big site and the project could be one building or a series of buildings. A good 4-5 story development there would increase density on the street, create new living and shopping opportunities, eliminate a vacant lot, eliminate the pedestrian discouraging driveways of the gas station, and be a chance to have some good modern architecture on the street. Again, with any luck a new developer will end up with this site.

There is a new development proposed for the SW corner of Lake Park and Hyde Park Blvd. (the Pancake House site [Ed.- the developer does not intend in this phase to affect the Pancake House of Hyde Park Mortgage, which have long-term leases.]). It is designed by Studio Gang who are the architects for the recently approved Solstice development at 56th and Cornell in the 5th ward. This is a chance for a density-building project with new living space near our Metra train, a mixed-use building that comes out to the pedestrian sidewalk eliminating the streetscape-killing exposed parking lot, and great contemporary design. The alderman, acting as our local Prince Charles, has vetoed the proposed building because it is "ugly."

Ancona School (48th and Dorchester) would like to build on its property a tall, mixed-use building that would include residential, parking and a new school facility for itself. The residential potion of the building would pay for the school facility.

One way to eliminate the secrecy and capriciousness of zoning changes, and the consequent disruption of a good, market-based development process, is for the community to create a new 53rd Street/Lake Park Avenue zoning map. Under the new 2004 zoning ordinance communities are invited to review the old zoning designations and then re-map based on the new 2004 zoning categories. The idea is to provide a tool for communities to create broad, clear guidelines that will manage the future development in their communities in a fair, open and thoughtful way. Many Chicago communities have already done this in cooperation with their alderman. Ours has not.

The University of Chicago could help local development by selling all its commercial real estate. As a matter of self-defense it was understandable that the University would want to control the real estate market back when the neighborhood was dicey. But the neighborhood is fine now and ready to grow gracefully. The University's huge position in the commercial real estate business serves no legitimate self-interest today and disrupts the entire market. They are inept commercial developers and managers because, like government, they don't have to do it well enough to make a living at it; it's like a hobby. (Where's Milton Friedman when you really need him?) The University i8s very, very big and its sheer size distorts everything in the neighborhood. But it can't help being big if it wants to continue do9ing its job well, and we have to accept the effects of its size and learn to live with them. But its huge position in commercial real estate today is not part of its job and is a dis-service to itself and to the community, whatever the quality of its intentions.

The University's handling of the Harper Theater Building project was close to perfect. With thorough community input they created an excellent Request For Proposal and threw it into the free market ring for developers to wrestle with. Then they sold the property to the winner. The winning proposal is outstanding on every dimension, all the better for the competition and the lack of backroom interference.

Doctors Hospital, not so good. Instead of creating an RFP based on the recognized need for a hotel and the realities of the existing building, the site and the surrounding neighborhood, they started with a chosen developer. Bad process, bad result. The neighborhood needs a hotel, probably 2 or 3 of them, and the Doctors Hospital site would be just fine if it were a good hotel project being proposed. The White Lodging/HOK concept was too tall, too busy, too boring and demolishes the existing hospital building to absolutely no advantage. Landmarks Illinois has commissioned an award-winning hotel architecture firm to develop a plan that uses the existing building, has high-quality new construction added, is quiet on the street, and is shorter - all this using the White Lodging's own specifications and with up to 20% of the construction costs being offset by preservation credits. The University is reviewing the alternate proposal and other hotel developers have expressed interest in taking over the project using the preservation architects' approach.

Affordable housing was not thoroughly dealt with at the workshop. it is standard practice for affordable housing advocates... to petition (beg) the aldermen to encourage (lean on) developers to provide below market units in their developments. Nobody is building new rental right now, so this is mostly low-end condos or off-site rental in older buildings. There's not much potential here for poor or old people because the condos are still too expensive and the off-site rental isn't where people are now living. Why not create a not-for-profit community development corporation that creates and manages "low-equity co-op housing"? The local banks and the developers involved in local projects would be partners and community members could buy shares in the corporation and "invest" affordable housing. Development and "gentrification" are going to happen in Hyde Park. As we work to make sure it is good and smart development, we need to take it into our own hands to limit the damage to poor and old people. Not-for-profit, low-equity co-op housing corporations are operating all around the country, often in the same way a nature conservation land trust operates. Burlington, Vermont has a good one (also has a good, successful co-op grocery store, by the way).

Harper Court was created in 1965 to give shelter to some of the may small businesses that were threatened by Urban Renewal. Small businesses, especially artisans and arts related ones, need the low rents in marginal buildings to get started and to survive. The marginal buildings were the targets of the clearance efforts and hundreds and hundreds of small businesses were lost, the very businesses that helped give Hyde Park its particular character. The idea of Harper Court was to moderate the negative effects of Urban Renewal by providing subsidized rentals for small retailers. The Court was successful in its mission for many years and became a beloved public space for the entire community as well. Even though I am a preservationist I doubt that preserving the original buildings is as important as preserving and renewing the original mission of Harper Court. If the Harper Court Foundation, on behalf of the community, were to retain and redevelop its property, it could again play a crucial role in supporting and growing the kind of small businesses that are often squeezed out by or unattractive to conventional development. A new Harper Court could include a transit-convenient tall mixed-use building generating income from condos or rental apartments that would support its retail mission. It could include a permanent plaza for the farmers market, the restored chess benches and other community events. It could be the home of a community theater, a small cooking school, a sausage and wine bar, a film club on an on. But the alderman has other plans. The Foundation (and the related Arts Council) is being pressured to sell out at a reduced price so the property can be lumped together with the city-owned surface parking lots to the east and turned into a meg-development. Gone would be not only the buildings but the community-building mission of Harper Court and in return for nothing very special. This is a very valuable community asset that should not be stolen or squandered. It would not be surprising to find that L3 is the chosen developer here too.

Our community has a tradition of making institutions for ourselves that serve our unique needs. The Co-op Grocery Store, Harper Court, the Neighborhood Club, Seminary Co-op Books, etc.- these are truly "home made" things that help us define and express who we are as a community and provide us with value the "market" can't and won't. These institutions have filled in the gaps where conventional institutions came up short. We roll up our sleeves, we get to work, and we build what we need, instead of sticking out our hand and presuming the world will put into it what we "deserve." We will probably lose the Co-op, Harper Court is in the way of the alderman's bulldozer, sounds like the Neighborhood Club is at risk, and Seminary Books is barely surviving the predator version of monopoly capitalism. There is no excuse for a community-created institution to be bad at what is does, but these institutions, when they are doing their jobs well, are an essential part of who we are. It is important that we use density, diversity and decentralized decision making to ensure that the wave of development coming our way recreates the kind of neighborhood we want. It is just as important that we lead the community in protecting and supporting the neighborhood institutions that we still have as they evolve to suit our current needs and that we help build the new institutions we will need in the future. We could build an affordable housing conservation corporation, a small business micro-loan bank focused on local entrepreneurs, a new Harper Court that would incubate new local businesses, a network of food buying clubs, a community supported science library and lab for young children, a Hyde Park "city hall," a salvaged building materials exchange, a theater arts workshop for high school kids and young adults - or a hundred other things that one person alone would never think of and that our community could do for itself.


Jack Spicer says zoning remap should be part of the visioning mix, Feb. 13 2008 Herald.

The aldermanic zoning abuses revealed in the recent and ongoing Tribune series are shocking and discouraging. Fortunately neither of our aldermen have been implicated. But this scandal may be the perfect opportunity for our alderman to lead the community through a comprehensive remapping process for Hyde Park under the new and genuinely improved Chicago Zoning Ordinance.


Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Report of the December 19 2007 meeting of the Development, Preservation and Zoning Committee
By Gary Ossewaarde, Chairman

The meeting was convened at 6:30 pm in Suite 907, Hyde Park Bank Building. Present were several members of the committee and an equal number of guests. Jay Mulberry retained the attendance sheet and will maintain a list serve for the committee.

The committee was convened to follow up on the December 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop and to consider proposals likely to be announced for the 53rd St. TIF area, perhaps starting at its January 14 meeting. George Rumsey reported HPKCC received many emails on the subjects.

Distributed was Irene Sherr’s brief report on the December 8 Workshop for coming official site on 53rd Vision, a blog by Jacob Lesniewski (“Who Owns Hyde Park”), and by prior email an analysis and policy paper (White Paper) by Jack Spicer on 53rd Street. These latter appeared inter alia to focus on a perceived forceful shift in the University’s approach to shaping the community, which may undermine community principles, interests and independent community-based institutions. Approach to the Co-Op, for example was found to present a challenge regardless of position on whether the Co-Op should have survived. Both the University’s policy and government handling of development apparently piecemeal, by contingency and favoritism must be responded to, the committee said, with a structure and process (“Second Voice”) for ongoing, broad-based and inclusive attention.

Attendees were generally pleased with the December 8 Workshop but quite incompletely satisfied. HPKCC and other organizations co-sponsored it; about ¾ of our board attended. Members here noted that most of our December 8 attendees were facilitators, who unfortunately were not allowed to vote. (President George Rumsey emailed our board after the December 8 workshop asking for comments and suggestions to give to the Alderman, not reflected in this report.) Areas of consensus, confusion, and disagreement were reviewed, with feeling here that the next step should require a few visualized choices rather than accretion or iteration of everything one would like to see in the area.

Process concerns about the workshop included:
· There was insufficient preparation and pre-input. The model process, Housing Corridor Initiative from Minneapolis, as well as an alternative, National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street, first convenes focus groups and works from the bottom up and lets the community clarify meanings and preferences about, for example, smart density.
· Many said the process felt controlled and at the end, however it happened, devolved into a referendum on a policy issue (a mid-rise “somewhere on 53rd Street,”) both poorly specified and capable of being used to support a project when it might not mean such and was not given preparation or context.
· Some of the questions voted on were poorly framed or split up in ways that created either false consensus or obscured real consensus.
· Harper Court, the next area likely to “move” was left out. This was especially of concern since Rumsey said he was told the next workshop follow up was not likely before spring—members said that needs to be held sooner.

“An Open Planning Process for 53rd Street.” There was general consensus today that an ongoing “second voice” (several said “shadow TIF”) process is necessary to allow many views to be heard and arrive at a separate plan or presentation of choices. No one organization or the TIF could successfully guarantee an open or sufficient process. An alternative voice must be diverse, large, proactive, constructive, and responsible. Its product should be a set of principles, choices, and above all a process of integrity. Most thought an outside facilitator will have to be hired to engage the small groups and stakeholders. Uncertain: whether the process can or should stay “friendly” with the “powers.”

Members noted and reviewed several previous studies of 53rd and the area and what legacies they had left. There had been results, but the general malaise about 53rd remains unresolved and the kinds of development that large numbers would (or would not) want to see hadn’t happened. (Gary Ossewaarde subsequently prepared a list of studies since 1990, some in the public domain and some in HPKCC or other files, which list was shared with Irene Sherr at her request for the Department of Planning.) A broader question was whether/how to start a Zoning review for the business and developable districts.

Members noted that Harper Court is the urgent issue, involving public purpose and space and at the gateway, and a topic the public has focused on. It also involved a number of actions that irked or appalled many, from loss of a public purpose and actions of its board to control taken by the alderman and city, including bundling with the city lot and a city RFQ/RFP.

General consensus was that 1) the Harper Court process should be slowed down with effort to reform/redirect it, including toward public involvement, 2) the public should be called in to say what it wants there, 3) Harper Court must be made “winnable” for the community. HPKCC has already held 3 public meetings on the Future of Harper Court, resulting both in a set of principles and a large collection of public ideas about what to put there. Most suggested that since it is evident that there is widespread difference of opinion about what should physically go there, the best approach would be to develop two or there or more “plans” and hold a big public meeting on them.

Therefore, a Future of Harper Court section was formed (open to any who want to join) to meet Thursday, January 10, 6:30 p.m., at Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park. Jack

Jay Mulberry will organize a list serve and an interactive Google group focusing initially on Harper Court – he needs email addresses. For information on being in these, contact Jay at jaymulberry@gmail.com.

The section is directed to see if it can develop choices for Harper Court for a public meeting. The committee should report to the whole at a meeting which should occur shortly after the January 14 TIF meeting (all urged to attend the TIF, 7 pm, Neighborhood Club). Vice President George Davis will make a brief report to the HPKCC Board January 3. Members belonging to other organizations were encouraged to apprise their organizations of what we are doing, as, if the process is to be ongoing, broad participation and possibly a structure will be necessary.

Pat Wilcoxen and Jack Spicer were assigned to inquire of organizations that facilitate ground-up community planning as well as start contacting local organizations. Adjournment.

Gary M. Ossewaarde,
HPKCC Vice President

A blog and counter-"Who Owns Hyde Park?"

By Jacob Lesniewski

The University of Chicago proudly points to how its Office of Community
Affairs has forged a new relationship with surrounding neighborhoods.
Gone are the days of the University wielding the tools of urban renewal
and eminent domain to "build out" elements of Hyde Park the university,
its faculty, high-end staff or students found undesirable. The
university now speaks of forming partnerships and collaborating with
communities and neighborhood groups on issues of education, public
safety, urban planning and economic development. To the extent that the
university now mainly builds charter schools instead of condominium
towers, the relationship between the university and local neighborhoods
appears different. But beneath the surface of grins, handshakes and
photo ops lies the reality of an unchanged vision. The university still
largely sees neighborhood groups in Hyde Park and across the Mid-South
Side as impediments and roadblocks on the path to accomplishing its
underlying community relations goal: a stable, staid, homogenous and
easily categorizable upper middle class Hyde Park.

Hyde Park is a diverse community that confounds easy categorization.
Racial and socioeconomic patterns change block to block and sometimes
lot to lot. It is the whitest neighborhood for miles and yet only
around 44 percent of its residents are white. It is a neighborhood of
renters and condo-owners, of the wealthy living in huge mansions and
the poor living in Section 8 buildings. It is full of liberal activists
and economics professors, frat boys and math nerds, dusty bookstores
and rib joints.

The university has long desired a homogenous, predictable neighborhood
to sell to prospective students and faculty, and seems to believe that
through bricks and mortar construction and the expansion of the
university police force, it can accomplish its vision of Hyde Park. The
tragedy of Amadou Cisse's murder, steps from the sparkling new
undergraduate dorm under construction, lays bare the failure of this
strategy. But the university continues to pursue this strategy and
fundamentally unchanged relationship with its surrounding community.

Two recent dust-ups between the university and the community exemplify
this essentially unchanged relationship. The first issue is the
university's push to convert the Doctor's Hospital on Stony Island into
a hotel. Most of us who live in Hyde Park would heartily support a
non-shady hotel closer than the expensive Loop hotels that currently
"serve" our neighborhood. Had the university chosen to engage in a
dialogue or consult important community actors (such as the residents
of apartment and co-op buildings on Stony Island), they would have
found a questioning, yet overwhelmingly supportive community.

Instead, the university chose to attempt to ram through a plan based on
the needs of an important donor, the White family of White Lodging
Company. They held their first public meeting on the plan in the small
conference room of a neighboring cooperative and all non-Vista Homes
residents were shut out. When the Office of Community Affairs finally
presented the plan to the public, it was clear that the presentation
was a clumsily orchestrated attempt to equate opposition to this
particular plan and hotel operator with opposition to a hotel in Hyde
Park, economic development and, most heinously, the needs of the
families of cancer patients at the University of Chicago Hospitals. The
University's hand-picked "preservation expert," who droned on endlessly
about how the Doctor's Hospital building really isn't all that
historic, finished his speech before getting to a point the university
deemed important. So Hank Webber, vice-president for community affairs
at the university, yelled a reminder to him from the front row.

The second example is the recent demise of the Hyde Park Cooperative
Society. The coverage in the Sun-Times, Chicagoist and other media
outlets paints a picture of the university coming to the aid of a
failing grocery store by letting it die a dignified death. The reality
is that the university has cynically manipulated the process from the
start. The Co-Op's flagship store at 55th street is a highly profitable
full-service grocery store that has suffered from the attempted
expansion to stores at 53rd and 47th Streets. Service quality and
prices fluctuated over the last three years as the Co-Op sought a way
out of its obligations at the 47th Street store, to the frustration of
many residents. Some sort of solution was needed to restore high
quality, decently priced grocery service to the neighborhood.

Again, most residents of the neighborhood recognized the need for
change at the Co-Op. Again, the university, as lease-holder to the 55th
Street Co-Op, could have engaged in a dialogue with the Co-Op society,
its members and the wider community about the future of the Co-Op.
Instead, the university pushed through a vote requiring the Co-Op
Society to decide on its future. Again, instead of letting the process
play out naturally, the university hired a consultant to create a shell
community organization called Hungry for Change that took out full page
ads in the student newspaper, the Maroon, encouraging a vote for the
Co-op's demise, to be replaced by a Treasure Island or Dominick's at
55th Street. To make sure their message was clear, Hank Webber sent out
a mass email to all those with an uchicago.edu email address claiming
that "Option A" was the only viable option for Hyde Park, presumably to
avoid mass starvation.

The problem with the university's approach to the community is not
merely the attempt to ram through a hotel operator that has a federal
EEOC complaint against it for religious discrimination, disobeys city
laws on housekeeper breaks or is relentlessly anti-union. It is not
with pushing through the demise of a 75-year-old institution in favor
of a union-busting grocer (Treasure Island) or a faceless corporation
(Dominick's). The problem is that the university, having lost its blunt
tools of eminent domain and bulldozers, now uses cynical manipulation
to impose its vision of a healthy urban community on Hyde Park. It is a
similar strategy to the Daley administration, which uses its power and
resources to buy off opposition and force community groups to play the
game in return for whatever scraps the city (or university) deems
appropriate to bestow in return.

The counter-vision of Hyde Park is that it is and has the potential to
be the premier example of a diverse urban community that works, a
neighborhood that resists the homogenization of late stage capitalism,
a neighborhood where the poor and well heeled bump into each other on
the street. That counter-vision is not upheld by the sycophantic
student newspaper or by the new wealthier condo owners, but by the
group that the university has criticized as against progress and
development in Hyde Park: the long time "white liberal" residents who
man the community organizations, churches and synagogues. It is not the
university or the compromised commentariat — its key collaborators in
bemoaning that "things don't get done in Hyde Park" — who saved the
neighborhood from the twin specters of blight and flight in the 1960s
and 1970s. Despite the fact that the bulldozers of urban renewal often
receive credit for saving Hyde Park from the fate of other South Side
neighborhoods, the real "saviors" of Hyde Park are those now graying
men and women who stayed through the decline in the '60s through the
'80s. They maintained the vision of an economically and racially
diverse neighborhood by not relocating to the North Side or down the
Metra Electric Line to the south suburbs. It is because of them that
there remains a strong core of religious, social and other
organizations that serve the community so well.

The question of who owns Hyde Park remains a contested one. On the one
side are the members of the Older Women's League, the lay leaders of
the churches and synagogues, and the members of the community council
whose vision is of a diverse, heterogeneous community, and on the other
stands the vision of those within the gray fortress of the university
and their developer allies. It is a battle between Valois and Wendy's,
57th Street Books and Borders, Dr. Wax and Coconuts. It is between
those who see Hyde Park as nothing more than a template for Anywhere,
USA and those for whom Hyde Park is home and history. For the
university to truly have a new relationship with Hyde Park, it must
recognize this vision. It must recognize that it is not Hyde Park, and
despite the fact that it holds legal title to much of its real estate,
it does not own it. Until then, its new relationship will be nothing
more than consultant-driven manipulation and propaganda.

Jacob Lesniewski is a transplanted New Yorker and a graduate student at
the University of Chicago. While he loves Chicago, his biggest fear is
that his daughters will become Bulls fans.

1 comments  |  Add yours

Mateus (December 19, 2007 4:26 AM) said:

I was somewhat involved in the Co-Op debacle, and I have to say that I
think it was completely the fault of the Co-Op. Having perused its
books, it became clear that its governing council was completely
incompetent in accounting for its profits and losses and using data to
make sound decisions. So ironic, given that so much of the membership
came from U of C, which is globally recognized as a place that teaches
reasoned decision making using hard facts. If the Co-Op had voted to
try to hang on, it would surely have failed as no one in their right
mind would extend credit to the group after having seen their books. It
would be a loss for any creditor. Indeed, HP would have become a food
desert, as the liquidation process is a lengthy one. This on top of the
Cisse slaying and fairly regular flow of robberies committed against
students is completely untenable for the University if it is going to
continue attracting terrific academic minds. Why deal with no
groceries, little night life, bad public transportation and perceived
safety problems when you could just go to Harvard or Columbia, where
these issues are of little concern? Top

Ald. Preckwinkle says in Feb. 20 2008 Ald. Report that small things such as SBIF, Cleanslate, can make all the difference

The small things in life often make all the difference. I believe hat successful neighborhood development occurs incrementally. Rarely will a single blockbuster project turn a street around or change overall perceptions. More often it is the cumulative impact of a series of small scale projects that constitutes major improvement.

I would like to devote this month's column to recognizing some relatively "small things" that are making a difference in the 4th ward.

Small Business Improvement fund (SBIF) spiffs up local businesses - SBIF is a relatively new city of Chicago program, funded with local TIF funds. It assists small businesses in designated TIF districts to repair or remodel their facilities. SBIF grants of up to $150,000 are provided to business or property owners after the remodeling work is complete and all expenses are paid.

As of 208, businesses in both the 53rd street TIF and the 43rd and Cottage Grove TIF may take advantage of this program.

Patti and Tom Kidwell, owners of the popular Noodles Etc. on 57th Stet utilized the SBIF to open Chant, a pan-Asian restaurant with a stylish interior, a full-service bar and late night hours. "It's awesome, super easy," said Tom Kidwell. Daryl and Lynn Crawford owner of Kimbark Laundry also took advantage of the SBIF program to remodel their 53rd Street location and add free wi-fi and flat-screen TVs for customers.

The investment that these and other local businesses including the newly expanded Hyde Park Produce in Kimbark Plaza and Ain't She Sweet Cafe, at 4532 S. Cottage Grove are making a renewed commitment to meeting the needs of the 4h Ward and renewed confidence in the ward's promising future.

Cleaner streets and shoveled sidewalks make life better for all of us. Cleanslate interns service the 53rd Street business district and 47th and Cottage Grove corridor five days per week. Cleanslate crews forged ahead through the recent cold weather and constant snow and shoveled many of the "no man's land areas" that never seem to get shoveled. More important than the neighborhood beautification and maintenance services that we enjoy, interns receive essential job training skills and support services through Cleanslate with the goal of attaining permanent employment at an average wage of over $10 an hour. I urge you to support this effort by greeting Cleanslate participants when you meet them on the street and commending them for a job well done when appropriate.

If you would like more information about any of the programs mentioned above, feel fee to call my office at 773-536-8103. Since we are now in the middle of our snow season, I would also like to remind all property owners in the ward that it is their responsibility, per city ordinance, to shovel the sidewalks abutting their property. Please be a good neighbor and shovel your sidewalks.


Renderings of the proposed new facade for Borders