News, Assessments and essays on Hyde Park's business climate and district development, amenities and vitality

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Development, Preservation and Zoning Task Force, and the HPOKCC website, Help support our work as watchdog, forum and clearing house: Join the Conference.

A SURGE IN RETAIL SIGNINGS PRESAGES A NEW DAY IN HYDE PARK. See also in Harper Theater, Harper Court, Grocery Scene.
Whole Foods signing for Village Center- see pdf release. Goode comes to the Chamber.
Hyde Park Chambr of Commerce website-
South East Chicago Commission-

Special Service District 61 Commission meets 3RD WEDNESDAYS at Polsky east conference room, 1452 E. 53rd St. (except those occasionally in evening.) June 21 11 am Polsky.

June 22, Thursday, 6 pm. Information and input meeting on the Silver Room Block Party on July 15. Silver Room, 1506 E, 53rd St.

June 25, Sunday, 10 am-2 pm. Grand opening of Litehouse Grill at 1660 E. 55th St.

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce 1715 E. 55th St. Chicago, IL 60615. 773 288-0124,

Coming January 2017- Goldman Sachs business training, 10,000 Small Businesses- Cohort 17. Free, on Mons and Fridays. Must apply by Oct. 5. Must have been in bus. at least 2 years, employ at least 4, and have rev. of $150,000 plus., rkravitz@ccc.ecu, 312 553-5912.

New location for our Restaurants Plus guide.

June 14, Wednesday, 6 pm. Meeting on Harper Court Phase 2. Kenwood Academy Little Theater, 5015 S. Blackstone.

UChicago article on Harper Theater and other revitalization of 53rd St.

A new format for getting cooperative/community funding for small businesses, endorsed by several in Hyde Park:

What does the sale of Hyde Park Bank mean?

Other pages: SSA proposed for main bus. district.
A new page
has news and discussions of broadening grocery and related specialty shops options (dare we say "competition?): Grocery Scene: Treasure Island, Hyde Park Produce, Horvat, Michael's & MORE.
Development and Development-Preservation-Zoning navigator. Development home.
Small Business Improvement Fund. Cleanslate great success!!
53rd TIF News home. Bus. distr. maps. TIF maps. TIFormation.
2000 A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District
53rd St. Planning Vision, Future and News
-news of the variety of options, mixed use buildings, and full-suite of retail wanted by Hyde Parkers.
Neighborhood Development and Public Policy--has stories about specific developments as well as essays on policy objectives and caveats.
TIF Advisory Council Meetings. Streetscape and Metra/Lake Park revitalization projects. Zoning Reform home. Parking/Transportation Enhancement District proposal. Parking Woes. Tracking Community Trends. Community News. New Cultural corner comes to 47th/Greenwood.
Co-op home, Treasure Island-Hyde Park Produce-Village Foods and Open Produce.
Harper Court Sale homepage. (See there on the effect of need to relocate on the businesses, and how they are faring, and what is says about affordable retail rents in Hyde Park.)
Theater RFP. Business-Student Policies/Relations, Payday Loans, Doctors Hospital,
Disabilities Task Force,
DTF Business Information Packet.
New: Dining and entertainment
Development Navigator and home.

To Dates:


Harper Theater. 5238 S. Harper Ave. 60615. 773 690-9200. Sign up for e-messages of shows, cafe, etc. from website. 4 screens, showings start January 18 2013.

Information on the proposed boutique ACE hotel for 53rd and Dorchester is in our 53rd Street News page.

Vue 53 includes a 21,000 sf flexible Target geared to student and Hyde Parkers needs. City Hyde Park will have Whole Foods, Marshall's and Michael's Crafts

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.

Modern Cooperatative, a furniture and home furnishing store coming to the corner of 53rd and Harper-- anyone remember the "SCAN" store that once stood at the north end of the old Harper Court? It's promising that experienced business folks believe that such a store can now prosper here-- and it will sell stuff people actually use.

From September 1 2015

Hyde Park design enthusiasts will have reason to celebrate when Tiffany Paige and Mike Biersma open the second location of their much-loved furniture and home accessories store, Modern Cooperative, in Hyde Park in late October 2015. They “…mix the old and new, the high and low, the fun and the serious” – a promising combination for shoppers looking to decorate a dorm room, apartment, or house.

The store tagline, “Where vintage modern meets handmade,” is an apt description of Paige and Biersma’s philosophy for the store, which comes from their love of the mid-century modern design aesthetic as well as their commitment to local and handmade design.

The Hyde Park location will feature the same hand-picked combination of mid-century modern and vintage Danish furniture, modern Scandinavian-inspired home décor accessories, and art pieces from more than 75 local artists that has made their Pilsen store an award-winning shopping destination, mentioned in The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, The Boston Globe, Chicago magazine, Chicagoist, Chicago Social, and more.

The store will be located at 1500 E. 53rd Street, previously occupied by the women’s clothing boutique, Anastasia. Modern Cooperative will also include space currently occupied by Lively Athletics at 5241 S. Harper Avenue. After opening in April 2015, Lively Athletics will now be moving across the street to 1457 E. 53rd Street, next door to the recently renovated Rajun Cajun restaurant space [in the CIE-repurposed Schuster Bldg), a Hyde Park landmark. (MORE visit find eblast

Open Produce is celebrating 6 years in its new store.

Harper Court Signed tenants:
LA Fitness
Chipotle restaurant (earlier)
(the next 3 September 2012) Park Tavern (one in Rosemont, not Park 52.
Ja' Grill (one on Armitage in Lincoln Park.
Starbucks (whether replacing the one at 53rd and Harper not known)
Porkchop, a barbeque and bourbon rstaurant (1st is at 941 W. Randolph). Whiskey, bourgon and craft been; southern-inspired bkfast, lunch, dinner daily.
Villa Sneakers

What about them? Park Tavern (5200 sf) will serve craft beer and pub-style food. It;'s owned by Restaurants-America, a chain o f comfort food restaurants -- a replacement for Dixie Kitchen according to description of its signatures, but note that until 2010 it owned the Bar Louis chain.
Ja' Grill (2500 sf) will be Jamaican (think Calypso?); chef Herbert :Eroll" Gallimore is rom Jamaica. To pre-sample go to 1008 W. Armitage.
The Starbucks will anchor the Lake Park-53rd corner (1800 sf), with the current one at Harper presumably gone.

Sir and Madame reopened in Harper Court by Mango. And Noteworthy Notes there by Nancy Krauss Flowers- 5231 S. Harper Court.

Hopping places: Modern Cooperative furniture and furnishings at 1500 E. 53rd, BU "More Than Maternity" at 1502 and The Silver Room at 1506. And Comfort Me at 1508 E. 55th St. in HP Shopping Center Courthyard.

Einstein Bagels is soon to open a large facility in the Hyatt Place Hyde Park, 5225 S. Harper Court. It's continuing a job fair October Friday Oct. 16 10-2.

Pop ups on 54rd/Harper/Harper Court are cycling through. Sir and Madame has moved to its other store on North Damen. Opening soon for six months in the 1500 block of E. 53rd is The Red Balloon, which will sell children's clothes and items. This has been missing (except for Toys Etcetera) in HP for a number of years.

Open August 1, 2014- The Red Balloon childrens and novelty - 1504 E. 53rd St.

Open on 55th St. 1162- 1100 block north side, joining Jimmy's and Starbucks- Nile (from 1600 block of 55th), Bergman's deli, and another not yet announced.

A big loss- Powell's books from 1448 E. 57th St. (Moving to Chesterton IN). Among reasons cited that can be addressed or at least pointed at (other than us all going to and actually buying at local stores and maybe more people:
Paid parking machines with steady price increases, costs related to fees and licenses (including allegedly capricious back fees), and University of Chicago busses and other measures that discourage students from browsing in the neighborhood (and maybe a funneling toward 53rd St.?). Rent was not mentioned in this case.

Other specialty stores have closed or will later in 2013.

Will there be adverse or favorable impact (i.e. parkers hoarding spaces so shoppers can't park) of meter-machine-free parking on Sundays and extension of hours from 9 to 10 pm other days? Too soon to tell, businessmen think. Ald Burns says he will be watching and introduce an ordinance to have certain zones put back on Sunday parking if need be- with revs. going to the city.

SECC in late spring 2013 hired CleanSlate to clean several South Side streets, including 57th (the only street in Hyde Park) and install banners and planters. 53rd and Lake Park are NOT included. Cleanslate will start on an ongoing basis under the SSA in summer 2014.

MAY 16 2013 THE CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION approved rezoning and PD for Vue 53. Vue 53 was approved by the Chicago City Council June 5.

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).
The commissions and City Council passed the split-off and development in late 2012.

November 8, 2012- MAC buildings won four awards from the Chicago area management association (CAMME)- Regents Park, Woodlawn Court, Pepperland, Kenwod Court. Also winning was the Plaisance at 61st and Woodlawn, under TLC management.

Newly opened- The Sip coffee shop, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd.
Akira Clothing, 1539 E. 53rd St.
Logan Cafe 915 E. 60th St.
Kilwins Opened December 8, 2012

5226 S. Harper, 773-675-6731. Jackie Kirwin
Other shop 1405 North Wells Chicago IL 60610 312 654-1962 Phone 312 654-1963 Fax 773 456-5442 Cell
Ice cream, chocolate and more.
Within a block of buses 15, 28 (til Dec. 17 when moves to S. HPBlvd.and Metra Electric, 3 blocks of buses 2, 6, 28 from Dec. 17, 28x til Dec. 17), 171 until? Street parking unless makes arrangement for behind former Borders. Next to soon-to-open Harper Theater.

July 28 2015 Smart Hotels and partners (including the management of Hyatt Hyde Park) announced at the 5th Ward monthly meeting, concepts for a boutique ACE Hotel at the southeast corner of 53rd and Dorchester, replacing a UC housing parking lot and UC Police station. It would take advantage of Transit Oriented Development Ordinance height exception to build a 6 or 7 story structure c 75 feet as a planned development. There was both enthusiastic support and concerns about effects including of a restaurant traffic and parinign ned. Althugh parking is not needed in a TOD development, there will be direct and vallet parking in the Harper Court parking garage. There were no rendering yet available. More meetings, and hearings will be held. There was also some exasperation about piecemeal development on 53rd without an overall and capacity plan.

New Balance Shoes, a small Chicago company, fills the spot left when Bank Financial closed its Lake Park 55th branch- opens c. August 15, 2014.

Closed 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.

Closed in January- the Istria Cafe in Hyde Park Art Center. HPAC is looking for a replacement and public's ideas.

Cafe57 was sold by Tony Wilkins (mgr. Belinda Lipscomb) to Mohamed Murtha, to be managed by Danny Morales. It will be remodeled and some new items added.

Closed in spring 2014- Ribs 'N Bibs, Edwardo's, Home Made Pizza (the pizza business is in sharp decline).

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.

New (or rather returned after an absence, with a new name) LDRSkate (Leaders). 1013 E. 53rd St. This is skate-boarding and related, with gear and clothing. Not ice skating.

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.

The Sip at 5507 S. Hyde Park Blvd. held a grand opening November 10, with the Chamber, SECC, and the 5th Ward.

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

According to Wintrust CEO Edward Wehmer as quoted in the September 26 2012. Hyde Park Herald, it means no significant changes to name, staff, or operations --but may mean more South Side locations adding to the main bank at 1525 E. 53rd St. and the branch at 1131 E. 57th St. and more ATMs and mortgage and wealth management services. The sale should be completed at the end of the year after all boards and regulatory boards approve, and has a letter of agreement, purchase price being $27.5 M. Another source indicates the lead directing unit will be a bank in Beverly, however this is said to be Wintrust's first acquisition on Chicago's South Side. Wintrust is a $17 billion firm (based in Rosemont, with branches in Illinois and Wisconsin) vs HPB's 300 M assets and $238 M in deposits according to the Herald. One of the dailies says HPB currently has a liability of $9 M in TARP bailout money-- and the Federal Reserve is moving to close out the TARP accounts of small banks. HPB has been profitable and its deposits up substantially, but profits were lower last year according to the bank's annual report to customers. A looming problem for all small banks is an impending rule that would greatly increase capital requirements and regulations for all banks internationally, and that many experts including the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, say will be devastating for community banks-- and according to the dailies will end all remaining stand alone's in Illinois. HPB CEO Tim Goodsell explained in part to the Herald more immediate reasons the bank sought combination-- post recession environment making it difficult for small, stand alone banks to provide the full, one-stop services and products customers expect, the ultra-low interest rates (enforced by the Fed) that make it hard to attract depositors and to make profitable loans -- in short to have the return investors and customers expect.
The loss of an independent bank and possibly the good causes it funds and maybe in policies is a blow, although the most recent example-- University Bank to Bank Financial seems not to have adverse effects. Possible effects on the bank building's operations are not known, but of concern to many.

Michael McGarry, President of Hyde Park Bank was nominated to 2 year term on the board of the Illinois Bankers Association. He also serves on the boards of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and Montgomery Place. McGarry was appointed President of HPB in 2012 and will remain President of the HPB division. Tim Goodsell, current CEO, and Tim Barrett, CFO will leave.

Smart Hotels sets forth the best light for its hotel in Harper Court- see in Harper Court page. The city recently approved its nearly $3M TIF subsidy.

Wintrust, and expanding suburban bank, buys Hyde Park Bank parent. There may or not be a connection with the Fed's closeout of TARP bailout funds, of which HPB or parent had at least initially $9M. HPB wa the neighborhood's last independent bank.

Original House of Pancakes has reopened, now at Lake Park and 47th.
But Michaels' Foods closed its grocery store on 47th Feb. 20 2012, laying off 100.
Clarke's diner opened.

Why did it close? Third World Cafe said after business went up for a while, the economy turned, rents stayed high, some student housing in the area closed, said owner Robert Raymondo. He sees a turnaround coming for the section, but it may take a few years.

Curves on 53rd St. closed in September 2012.

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.

53rd Street Bicycle Center has opened ne corner of Lake Park and 53rd. Rentals short and long term, parking short and long, tours, supplies.

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

Yes another pizza place- Papa Johns is moving into the empty space in Dorchester Commons.

A Sherwin-Williams paint store had a gala ribbon-cutting at 1326 E. 47th St. mid-July 2012.

Litehouse Whole Food Grill.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Several new stores including pop-up clothing and fashion stores, have opened or are announced as coming on 53rd and on Harper ahead of Harper Court.

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.

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.
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.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened Sept. 5 2011 in the Harper Theater.
Note: Hyde Park Jazz Society programs move Jan. 8 back to Room 43, with a "black and white" party. Sundays 7:30-11:30.


Look for the Annual Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner in November. 11th $. Res. req. Rodfei Zedek.

Deal between university and city for pilot for speeding zoning and permits promises much, touches much.

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce-, email "contact@" (Lenora Austin). 5501 S. Everett Chicago, IL 60615, 773 288-0124.
The 2011-2012 Directory is now available.
Chamber 1st Thursdays- April 4 5:30-7:30 at BMO Harris Bank 901 E. 47th St.

And the winners were.... HP Chamber dinner 2012- Medici, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, and Duel Richardson (volunteer of the year).

See a video from Medill School of Journalism on the Theater and its renovation, January 2012.

There is much disappointment over damage to sales and parking from Harper Court construction. Details are/will be in Harper Court homepage.

Michaels Fresh Market chain filed for bankruptcy in early January. They cited regular's restrictions on lending by Premier Bank of Wilmette, the later and others cited large debt and slow payments. Expected at present is that the stores including that at 1300 E. 47th St. will stay open and the business undergo reorganization.

Another business was to be coming--but long stalled: Litehouse Whole Food Grill.

Opens in June 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.

The Space- new. This gym started in 2012 in the newly opened Del Prado, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., features boutique functional training.

"Goode" comes to the Chamber. Elected Executive Director in July 2011: Wallace E. Goode, Jr., who comes from a long history of community engagement at the City of Chicago (Planning, Workforce Development), and the University of Chicago (including Associate Dean and Director of the Community Service Center. President Sue Walker told the Herald "We believe we have struck gold... We look forward to the new levels the chamber will reach with his involvement." Goode says he wants to focus on advocacy, knowledge and development, resource development, and networking. He cited the importance of cross culture communication in Hyde Park. How can we serve such diverse interests the many kinds of businesses, students, communities and visitors who often go to only one thing, such as the Museum. Goode is also on the board of St. Thomas Apostle School, Mt. Carmel High School, and the National Peace Corps.
Based on what he's seen, he wants to concentrate on increasing customer traffic, exposure, better access to resources, and parking. Former Exec. Dir. Lenora Austin was honored at the 2011 Annual Dinner, as were Patty Kidwell, Jim Pomeyirou, and Montgomery Place.

Executive Director: Wallace Goode, Jr. President: Susan Walker Other members (roster out of date): Cheryl Bonander, Kathy Dusik, Joyce Feuer, Brad Jonas, Christ Nogulich, Michael McGuire, Jim Poueymirou, Jo Reizner, Duel Richardson, Rod Sawyer, Richard Spencer, (new), Jeanne Spurlock, Colette Steward, Laurel Stradford.

In December 2011 Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce announced a $75,000 grant from the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority for prevention and recovery education seminars and support to businesses and their employees throughout the community and preparation of materials for distribution, according to HPCC Executive Director Wallace Goode.


Chamber touts new event(s) promoting business- Herald April 14 2010

1st Thursdays. The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce officials are reporting great turnout and interest in their recently launched "First Thursdays" programs. Next April 5, Thursday, 5:30-7:30 pm at Country Financial, 5309 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

The purpose of the program is to highlight businesses on the significant retail strips in Hyde Park, according to Chamber Executive Director Lenora Austin. "We want people to know they don't need to leave the neighborhood for goods and services," Austin said. "So, we are using "First Thursdays" to highlight, street by street, the businesses that we have in the community, some of which people might not know about." The program has been a success so far -- even in some unexpected ways, according to Chamber Board President Susan Walker. "Our first event was held in a residence for sale on 47th Street," Walker said. "Shortly afterward, an offer was made on the property."

Walker said said the events, like the chamber meetings held every month on the third wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Chant, 1509 E. 53rd st., are part of the central mission of th Chamber -- to connect businesses and residents. "Our vision is for a vital, bustling Hyde Park retail scene," Walker said. "Businesses are only half of the equation. Hyde Parkers need to be shopping in the neighborhood in order to achieve that vision."

Chamber of Commerce ties into programs for a Small Business Saturday on November 26. The larger programs are the city's Shop Local and American Express' sign up for $25 rebates (you get it on your account when you buy with card at a small business- visit Santa will trek the area and settle down at a special breakfast with Santa. Stores including Supreme Jewelers, Hyde Park Produce, The Fair Trader, and cafe 53 will have deals.
Full details, schedule, map, and coupons will be on line about November 19 at the Chamber's site,

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce held a forum for several 4th and 5th Ward candidates Jan. 19 2011 at Chant. Only part was devoted to questions to candidates.

Herald January 26: Local Candidates get H.P. Chamber's ear. By Sam Cholke

Candidates for 4th and 5th Ward alderman met with the Hyde Park business community last week to listen to concerns and offer a possible path forward through rough economic waters. "We've just been through a financial tsunami," said Peter Cassel, a representative for property owner Antheus Capital, which rents a number of the ward's retail spaces. "Hyde Park continues to grow coming out of it," he said. He underlined the importance of holding on to the small businesses that have weathered the storm.

More than 20 business owners and Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce members met with the candidates to push for more networking opportunities and easier access to customers beyond the ward's internal dividing lines. "Not all of us have thrived or expanded, but we're still here," said Cindy Pardo, a co-owner of the Fair Trader, which operates in the 5th Ward in one of Antheus' 55h Street retail spaces. She said she was frustrated the aldermen's attention had been on so few retail corridors. "53rd Street is not the only retail space in the neighborhood," she said.

The 4th Ward candidates were eager to leap at expanding the retail options. "I believe we currently have an area where people are willing to go beyond 53rd Street," said 4th Ward candidate Norman Bolden, who operates two businesses on 43rd Street. Members of both neighborhoods need to find ways to solidify the links between the communities, he said. "What better way to do that than to build small businesses along all of the commercial corridors that connect the ward?"

"On 43rd Street, hats off to Norman Bolden," 4th Ward aldermanic candidate and state Rep. Will Burns (D-26) said, adding the next 4th alderman should work to keep businesses lie Bolden's in the community and expand retail on 43rd Street, 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

The conversation moved to the expanding number of festivals on 53d Street. Fourth Ward candidate George Rumsey wants to replicate the success of the festivals in other parts of the 4th Ward and lower the entry cost for local businesses. He said he was disappointed with how few local stores participated.

"This is old new," said Joyce Feuer of Joyce's Event and Party Planning, the chamber's vice president. "it broke my heart to hear how many businesses turned us away to be in this event," she said about the Celebrate Hyde Park festival.

The conversation was dominated by assessments of the diversity of Hyde Prk businesses for the remainder of the forum. Business owners and candidates agreed that there are early-adopters amongst Hyde Park businesses, willing to take a financial risk when they're unsure of the payoff. All agreed that the festivals should be structured to favor local businesses and appeal to more than the risk takers.

Ald. Leslie Hairston, whose 5th Ward does not include 53rd street, said after the forum that the conversation missed the point. She said she felt the alderman's job was to support their chambers of commerce. She said she created the South Shore Chamber of Commerce to build exposure to businesses in the south end of her ward, but it was not her role to micromanage their decisions.

Anne Marie Miles, the only other 5th Ward candidate to attend the forum, said she thought more events modeled on the Hyde Park festival should be planned for SouthShore. More importantly, she said, the alderman should be pushing for local business access to the University of Chicago's broad purchasing power, which can sustain businesses year-round. ...

Deal between university and city for pilot for speeding zoning and permits promises much, touches much, including new Metra station at 59th 60th. .
And Emanuel confronts the grocery CEOs on the food deserts, vows to implement a plan including permitting reform.

Hyde Park Bank has promoted lon-time employee Michael McGarry to President. Tim Goodsell remains CEO and Chairman.

Michael McGuire, owner of Supreme Jewelers and a jewell in the community is featured in an extensive article in the Autumn 2011 Hyde Park History. For details on how to get it, visit

SECC's Mickey Conino retires. Did much to preserve, rescue HP housing, businesses

Herald, June 15, 2011. By Sam Cholke

After 36 years, housing advocate Mickey conino is retiring from the South East Chicago Commission. "It was a wonderful job from the day I walked inhere," Conino said in a interview June 10. "It's wonderful to walk away from a job after 36 years and be able to say that."

Conino started as executive assistant to Julian Levy in 1975 at the commission, and in 1985 took over for Helaine billings as assistant director for housing. In teh new position, it was Conino's job to chase down problem property owners in the neighborhood and convince them to shape up.

"There were lots of buildings that had all kinds of code adn building violations, drugs, gang activity," said SECC President shirley Newsome of the neighborhood when Conino took over for Billings. Without Conino, "we would probably have a bunch of rundown buildings, with who knows what kind of criminal activity in these buildings," she said. Conino said the university created a "captive audience" for rental units and landlords would take advantage of the renters and the buildings. It was her job to do something about it.

"We had just determined that the city was having a difficult time with their program to take action against owners that were not taking care of their property," Conino said. Her job at the SECC was to goad building inspectors to take a look at troubled properties and them follow up in court to make sure the owners fixed the problem. One problem building Conino remembers was on the 5400 block of South Blackstone Avenue. The owner decided to put an addition on his house and instead of going through the city to get permits, he just built it himself. "Persevering in court, we actually got the owner to remove the addition," Conino said. "We were stunned we were able to accomplish that."

Conino was also instrumental in cleaning up West Hyde Park, which was plagued with rundown buildings in the mid-80s. With the city backing them up with targeted prosecutions, Conino and the SECC dragged problem owners into court in droves. Faced with the raft of owners at once, the judge could not deny the pattern of disinvestment, ruling against the owners. It was a big victory for Conino.

She admitted those victories came at a different time in th city, back when residents had more time to help her chase down the problems of Hyde Park. "When I came to work here, society was just different. Now, everyone's working. We used to be able to have community meetings. Now it's hard to get a community meeting going because people don't have the time they used to," Conino said. "I can still communicate with people about buildings when they're at work adn I can go to court and represent their concerns and report back to them."

"I don't think anyone cand o [Conino] justice going forward," Newsome said. "She's just an all around ideal employee -- we're going to miss her terribly." Conino wil be moving to Springfield, Mo., to spend more time with her family. "We owe her a debt of gratitude," Newsome said.

But loss of Artisans 21 a blow.

December 2011- Original House of Pancakes opts to leave Village Center and move to a Lake Pointe Shopping Center building, 1358 E. 47th St. (Lake Park corner building), freeing the Center more for redevelopment. Located at 1517 E. Hyde Park Blvd. for 28 years, it is the way of Antheus' big redevelopement of the Center. Although offered space in the new development (terms if any unavailable), owners Lisa LaRoche-Sczurek and Steve Sczurek (3rd generation owners) did not want the business closed for that length of time and chose to relocate to the attractive, relatively modern, very visible-- and long vacant--corner site at Lake Park and 47th. There is ample parking. Neighbors include Walgreens and Michael's Fresh Foods and revitalized fitness center across the street, recently bought by LA Fitness. It is being built out for them with an additional 3o seats. Other Original Houses of Pancakes are located in Orland Park, Oak Forest, Lincoln Park, and the Gold Coast. The chain will celebrate its 40th year along with the grand opening early next year. The current location will close and the new open in January, 2011.

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.
And they have put out both the McMobil site on 53rd and their facilities structure at 56th and Stony Island out for RFQ.

First, a problem. Cafe 57, which took over Istria's place in the 57th St. Metra station, has appealed in distress for patronage since it is almost completely hidden and blocked off by Metra underpass reconstruction, which has also reduced parking despite a change by Ald. Hairston that provided six additional spaces on Lake Park.

And a great thing: Area restaurants are helping Dyett High School through the Chicago Botanical Green Youth Farm (of North Chicago Botanic Garden, Waukegan) program and partnership with four local restaurants- Graffiti Pizza, Norman's Bistro , and the two Z&H MarketCafe's in Hyde Park and Kenwood. Students learned planting and growing, healthy eating habits, and the outdoors an nature. They learned entrepreneurship by starting an outdoor produce market they operate under their own business plan and have become organic produce vendors. Funding is in part from Polk Bros. Foundation and Quad Communities. The owner of new Graffiti Pizza (700 E. 47th St.) related to the Herald how impressed she was that they had a business plan and could offer organic foods at a competitive price. Proceeds go to student stipends and plants for the 3/4 -acre farm plot.

Rebuilding in two Metra/Canadian National viaducts hurts two businesses. The work is partly repair-restoration such as to the columns, another part is framing for hanging art on 51st. The effected businesses are Cafe 57 (former Istria), which also lost some parking spaces temporarily, and Glorious Confectionary Lenoir at 1551 E. Hyde Park Blvd. For the latter, removal of the west wall let rats come in via tunneling to the washroom.

Clarke's diner. 5 Guys burger and 5-screen New 400 Theaters in Harper Theater.
53rd Cafe and Zberry Yogurt now grace 53rd St.
Groove Records in 1700 block of 55th, First Aid Comics in 1600 block of 55th enhance the mix of this special strip.
Harper Court almost ready to sign a number of retail leases including LA Fitness. Bidding fairwell to Calypso-counting costs.
Small bits.

PHLI International on 55th is gone, but a major boost was given to the 47th Lake Park (Lake Pointe) Shopping center by the opening of a Jennifer Hudson Weight Watchers at 1350 E. 47th St. The actress, Ald. Burns, and Mayor Emanuel were among ribbon cutters. Proceeds will go the Julian D. King Foundation which buys toys and school supplies for South Side needy children.

UC buys once Woolworth's at 1451 E. 53rd, thought too big for one store and too small for restaurant; bringing in Clarke'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 and 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."

LA Fitness bought out the Ballys on 47th at the end of November 2011. It is possible some programs and contract programs will change. LA Fitness also has signed to build in the new Harper Court.

Artisans 21 open again at 5503 S. Hyde Park Blvd. Grand sale Dec. 8.

5-SCREEN THEATER COMING TO HARPER THEATER 53RD AND HARPER, UC ANNOUNCES. Forwarded by 1537 News. Soon after announcing Five Guys Hamburg, other tenants coming.

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.


Lease signed by Antheus to bring Whole Foods to Village Center development (tent. starting construction late 2012, opening in 2014. ) The store will have 30,000 sq. ft., provide 125 jobs and be their 18th store in the Metro area.

Read/print in pdf.

Press Release - 5.4.11

Antheus Capital is delighted to announce that Whole Foods has signed a lease to serve
as the anchor tenant in our redevelopment of the shopping center in the south west
corner of 51st and Lake Park in the Hyde Park community. This lease represents a
powerful endorsement of Hyde Park by the world’s leading natural and organic foods

Much work remains to bring this project to fruition but we are gratified by this
milestone and appreciative of the significant time and effort invested by former
Alderman Preckwinkle and her successors, Alderman Newsome and Alderman Burns, in
making this possible. We also acknowledge and appreciate Alderman Leslie
Hairston's leadership in improving Hyde Park.

The mixed-use project is designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects
and includes 179 residential units, 110,000 square feet of retail and office space and
two levels of underground parking. Chicago City Council approved the Planned
Development in the fall of 2010. The stores and residences are expected to open in

Antheus Capital is a New Jersey-based real estate investment and development firm
with investments primarily in Chicago and Kansas City.

Peter Cassel

Is departure of dialysis, other UC health/social/employment services part of a pattern of dispersal of Hyde Park resources making for longer commutes to services and maybe dispersing resources rather than building up in deprived communities? It's really hard to tell, but there is more in the mix on that. The privatized dialysis center is also having trouble convincing the businesses at Wabash and 50th that they are a good fit. More in Healthcare Delivery.
DeVita dialysis clinics (Total Renal Care) is closing its 3 Hyde Park locations leased from the U of C and will build a new facility in Grand Boulevard. Experts say that will leave the South Side even shorter of slots, even after built and open. There is concern that rather than building resources in underserved areas, they are are taken from those locals that have some and spread around the area.

Herald, July 27, 2011. By Sam Cholke

The state last week approved moving a dialysis center from Hyde park to Grand Boulevard. DaVita, Inc., operated locally as Total Renal Care, plans to build a new center for its dialysis patients at 5838 S. Martin Luther King Drive. Davita purchases its current facility at 1164 E. 55th St. as part of a $27.8 million buyout of the University of Chicago Medical Center's three dialysis centers in 2010.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board reviewed the plan and voted five to three on July 21 to approve the project. The plan needed five votes to pass. One member was absent.

In a report, the Illinois Department of Public Health determined that the new dialysis center complies with state statutes. The report took issue with the temporary discontinuation of the dialysis services while the new center is built. Of the 44 dialysis center within a 30-minute drive from the current Hyde Park location, 21 are operating over capacity. The Hyde Park location started a fourth shift to handle all its patients, according to the report.

The state report identified a need for 53 dialysis stations in the area. The new center would add 11 stations, but it will quickly be overwhelmed, the state suggested. "The referring physician for teh proposed facility, Dr. Mary Hammes, estimates referring 156 patients to the new facility. Of this 156 patients, 135 are from the current Woodlawn facility," the report says. "This, and other supporting data suggests the proposed facility would be operating at 82.8 percent capacity by the end of the second year of operation, which surpasses the state minimum capacity fo 80 percent."

The dialysis center is moving because the University of Chicago is not renewing the lease on the current location. The lease ends Dec. 31. Though the state approved the move, residents and business owners oppose the new center. "We have all those lots and almost any of them would be a better use," said Bernard Loyd last month. Loyd is developing retail and restaurants a block away. He called the plan "short sighted." The 51st Street Business Association also unanimously rejected the proposal, saying it "would not fit as proposed into the scope of retail development that is being considered in this location and would be a detriment to the character of the King drive residential boulevard" in a letter tot he state.

According to documents filed with the state, DaVita originally considered a property at 4648 S. Drexel ave., but could not secure the necessary zoning. [That is in the 4th Ward.]

And is the fight over Elm Park for Kimbark Plaza parking and a distant park also part of the disperse-don't build pattern?

Small bits

Giordano's and holding companies have filed for bankruptcy mid February 2011. The restaurant stores are expected to stay open.

BORDERS CLOSES AT 53RD AND LAKE PARK, bought by UC. and so does Noon Hookah- but a new lease there has been signed.

Borders (53rd Lake Park)-- Media (Herald and Maroon) quotes and analyses said there wasn't enough business between Borders and the large number of independent book stores--one of the few places still to have plenty of bookstores (despite subsidy of Borders by the U of C); the director of South East Chicago Commission was quoted saying that Borders had ongoing managerial problems. Of course, the chain has plenty of problems, with the Mag Mile store being one of the victims thereof. There had been disputes over the cafe being taken over by laptop users and chess players. HQ said the store didn't meet their needs and provide enough bottom line. SECC's Wendy Williams said she didn't think the closing reflected negatively on 53rd street or the general retail environment . they and the 4th Ward will work to find a tenant since they don't want the store to stay dark. All items are at discount and the store should close in March. Only some employees will be offered jobs elsewhere. 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.

Noon Hookah (55th east of Metra)-- This rather unusual store-cafe-smoking spot closed in mid January 2011 after MAC Properties raised its rent and signed with another tenant rather than renew with Hookah (It was unclear whether a truer interpretation was that Hookah owner Kal Muhammad would not renew at the new rent so... or that MAC wanted a different tenant-- or both.). The replacement will be (ed. comment- yet another) nail salon. There is new retail there.
Peter Cassel of MAC cited such turnover as evidence of a strong retail market-- two businesses in that block are new (PHLI and Tanner Hair Salon) and five have renewed their leases. The fact of willing lessors at higher rents can also be cited to that effect.

Five Guys hamburger place slated for Harper Theater. 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."

Bidding farewell to Calypso Cafe- and counting the costs of progress.

Herald editorial, April 20, 2011

When we are counting the costs to make the University of Chicago's vision of a revitalized harper Court a reality, there is no doubt that Calypso Cafe and Dixie Kitchen will be high on that list of losses. When the first of the Harper Court buildings came down, the Andresen family that owns the restaurants moved Dixie into the back of Calypso so that we might savor their johnnycakes and pulled pork sandwiches a little longer under the leases Calypso had a 5211 S. Harper Ave. It seems that reprieve hs come to an end as the lead developer of the project, Vermilion, finally bought out the lease at that spot.

A project of this scope is bound to displace businesses -- a main reason to have advised caution throughout the process of planning at Harper Court -- but we always should be sure and tally the damage. No matter what city planners and university development boosters might think, no megastore is going to magically remake retail in Hyde Park, and there are plenty of large-scale developments in the city loaded with residential units and empty storefronts that seem to be forever beckoning to retailers who are in turn waiting for the next guy to blink. No, what makes a retail area thrive are the intrepid Andresens of the world who open small businesses and plug away at making them work. Each time we lose one, we've taken a step back from our long-term goals, and we should all be well aware of that.
In this case, it certainly adds insult to injury that we've also lost a first-rate tomato-base conch chowder in the bargain.

La Petite Folie received in 2010 Michelin guide's Bib Gourmand rating. These are favorite restaurants with a good value including offering two courses and a glass of wine for or dessert for under $40. 46 Chicago restaurants were so designated.

A new upscale hamburg joint, Five Guys, a favorite of Obama, will be going into the 53rd St. stores of the Harper Theater.
A new Middle Eastern specialty grocer and deli has opened at 1005 E. 53rd St.

Istria closed its 57th St. location, in its place is Cafe 57, proprietor Belinda Lipscomb.

Antheus/MAC Properties has hooked up with Heartland Alliance for a part of its building maintenance crews (10 persons). This is due to the state's "Putting Illinois to Work" program. Antheus will train. The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce pointed Antheus to Heartland, which administers at least part of the state program. Not said is whether this for a term or whether the crew members will or may become MAC employees.

Dr. Wake et al's Hyde Park Animal Clinic has at last relocated to 1363 E. 53rd St. He thanked Sue and Paul Freehling and the University of Chicago (the latter his recent landlord, which paved the way for move in advance of reconstruction of Harper Court), particularly Jim Hennessy. All equipment is up to date, and next year HPAC will open an additional clinic for surgery and boarding near 71st and Stony Island. Open House July 4 after the parade. The main facility has now opened at 69th and Stony Island.

Parker's Pets is now Parker's A Natural Dog and Cat Market. To reflect better what they are and have.

After considerable inconvenience to some patrons, the 53rd St. Currency Exchange at 1371A reopened under new owners and is honoring previous patron's claims.

The city has announced a business sign permit amnesty. For information call 312-744-6249 (74GOBIZ) or

Michael's Market os open! in the old Co-op store 47th and Kimbark. Some hard feelings were raised over the store's apparently not knowing it was committed to return to the North Kenwood-Oakland Comm. Conserv. Council with final plans and to talk with the city MOWD people downtown. The owners the store, similar to their other stores or to Pete's, say they will hire 60 to 80 mostly from the neighborhood. It's expected to have 42,000 sq. ft., and include a deli and bakery, and is seeking to lease the upper floor.

Herald, June 2. Amid the clatter of the construction site that is the soon-to-be-opened Michael's Fresh Market at 1300 e. 47th St., Michael's General Manager Michael Lata invited the Herald to check out the progress he had made as he approached his target date of a m id-to-late June opening.

"When we got in here, there was absolutely nothing," Lata explained as we passed by workers slathering plaster around freshly installed electrical outlets and grinding grout binding marble tiles. Lata said the buildout, which began in late March-early April, was as thorough as to include a complete rewiring or the building.

As the name suggests, Michael's Fresh Markets concentrates on fresh meats, fish and produce. "That's where we try to excel," explained Lata. An illustration of their commitment to fresh foods: a 44-foot-long fresh meat case, where butchers will cut meat to the customer's specifications. "That's how people are eating now," he added, referring tot he fresh-food emphasis of the store.

Michael's doesn't stop at fresh foods, though; it will include standard supermarket goods and a wide variety of ethnic fare.

Hyde Parkers will see a dramatic change in the interior of the space. First story walls are lined in marble and, on the second story, a New Orleans-themed streetscape will grace the interior, complete with wrought-iron fencing and a pedestrian walkway that will give one views of the entire store.

Lata said he had been to the grocery stores closest to his location -- the upscale Treasure Island, at the Hyde Park Shopping Center, and One Stop, a grocer blocks north of him, which is a sort of bulk meat and grocery staples store. To him, they were "one extreme to the next."Michael's he asserted, would be the middle ground, though he flip-flopped on the question of which of the two stores' customers he was targeting. "There's plenty of business out there for everybody,:" he said. The former occupant of Michael's space, the Hyde Park Co-Op would likely disagree, were it still in existence, though the circumstances under which it purveyed its wares there likely skews that perspective....

Lata predicts he will open either June 16 or June 23.


The last "old" business in Harper Court, Calypso Restaurant, has accepted Harper Court Partners' buyout offer and closed June 5, ahead of start of work on Harper Court redevelopment.

Three Pillars Wellness and yoga center at 1516 E. 53rd St. has closed due to impending move of owner Cynthia Latimer's impending move to Oregon, but its replacements are already in place-Chataranga Holistic Fitness and Praxis Holistic Chiropractic adn Massage have opened in the Arts Deco building at 1525 E. 55th St.

The Op Shop reopens for a couple months through Aug. 15 at 5226 S. Harper.

The Fair Trader on 55th St. is among businesses hoping to gain from City Council's declaration of Chicago as a Fair Trade City.

Caffe Florian at 1450 E. 57th has closed its doors in July 2010, citing loss of trade esp. in the evening-- attributed to the owner in part to loss of the Shoreland dorm, the economy, and too many places focusing on pizza and pasta. Owner John Frangias is looking for a restaurant serving something not so usual in Hyde Park.

In a major lecture at the University of Chicago, investment banker John W. Rogers, Jr. pointed out the ways in which black and other minority presence, and leadership in business and finance is disappearing.

There were serious criticisms of the newly reopened Giordano's (Blackstone, just south of 53rd) at a 4th Ward business breakfast November 5. These related to noise and trash in the alley, rooftop activity, and reported intent to seek reinstatement of its liquor license.

Herald says more businesses and nonprofits are in financial trouble, likes way HPArt Center handled its:

we predict that, until the economy recovers, we have to brace for similar revelations from other nonprofits -- and for-profit businesses -- in the community to follow suit. Hyde Parkers need to circle our wagons. Let's look at our charitable donations and think about how much more we can give locally. Let's think about when we leave the neighborhood to shop and why -- and reconsider. There are many new, interesting retail establishments that have popped up in Hyde Park in recent years. Are we shopping elsewhere out of necessity or habit?

We applaud both Thurow and the Hyde Parkers who raised concerns about the choice he made. This is Hyde Park in action. Should our prediction prove accurate - and we hope it does not --we hope and expect that both residents and institutional leaders will demonstrate the capacity for stewardship that this event has evinced -- by both the leadership at the art center and the Hyde Parkers who recreate there.


In interviews by other media, local businesses are feeling the pinch of the economy, although closures so far have been few. Seminary Coop bookstores and Medici are among those near campus noting declines in business.

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

Closing: Istria Cafe's 57th/Harper location. The Hyde Park Art Center will have its menu expanded.

Artisans 21 has moved from Harper Court to the 1300 block of E. 53rd St.

New: A popcorn et al vendor in the long-empty shop in the Lake Park-E. Hyde Park Blvd. Metra station: Glorious Confectionery Lenoir popcorn etc. at 1551 E. HPB.
Temporary: The Op Shop at 1613 E. 55th St.- new concept in art.

FEBRUARY 2010 THE SELECTED FINALIST FOR HARPER COURT REDEVELOPMENT WAS PRESENTED IN CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW FORM AND VETTING HAS STARTED. . The proposals were similar: All open Harper Avenue and at least one creates a new 52nd Place that would have (low?) retail buildings on them, but maybe one higher also (one concept had one going somewhat off the grid and curved on the north side of the new 52nd place). Total retail is still 90-150 sf including the first building (quite high) at the corner of Lake Park and 53rd. Park-like spaces would likely be near where the present plaza would be and at the north end of the site by Lake Park. 150,000 sf of UC office is still included, as well as a hotel, some residential. The southeast part would be first. TIF money would almost certainly be involved, amount and uses are being "negotiated."

47th and Cottage Shops and Lofts project given a new chance at life

Based on Hyde Park Herald, June 2, 2010, By Sam Cholke. A year after being sidelined, a scaled-back Shops and Lofts at 47th and Cottage is being resuscitated. Principal is Frank Petruziello of Skilken co. More than half of the stores are committed, thanks in part to Quad Communities. The Community Builders will develop 72 rental (no longer condo) units that are to be mixed income one- and- two bedroom apartments. A third will be public housing, the majority below market rate and about a quarter market rate.

The property is still owned by the Rands, Everett and Timothy, although the city is negotiating for it- once purchased it will be turned over to the developer. Review process starts next month, with work hoped for early next year. No word as to whether the Booker building might be spared, apparently not.

Hyde Park Herald, December 1, 2010. By Sam Cholke. Project at 47th, Cottage progresses.

The city has signed off on a new Aldi and rental apartments at East 47gh Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue -- a complicated, highly subsidized project that is likely to be the format for future development on Cottage Grove Avenue and nearby areas during the downturn in the real estate market.

"It hinges on the Aldi lease. That is because in this down market, we need 60 percent of the space leased with a national credit occupant," said Frank Petruziello, of Columbus, Ohio-based developer Skilken. According to Petruziello, there are a number of factors at work inside and outside the neighborhood that make local development difficult, particularly fo the Shops and Lofts project. The neighborhood has relatively shallow lots, making it difficult to attract national retailers who are used to dropping a predesigned building on a big open lot. But a retailer with the national reputation is necessary to get creditors on board, according to Petruziello. The housing market in the neighborhood remains flush with vacant condos and unsold units at the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation sites. To get traction on a housing project it needs to be rental -- for Shops and Lofts it meant dropping all the condos from the plan and replacing them with a mixture of subsidized and market-rate rental units.

"We have all our ducks in a row to get this closed," Petruziello tod the city's Community Development Commission on Nov. 9. the last of the "ducks" that propelled Shops and Lofts forward while other Cottage Grove Avenue projects still languish is a considerable number of government subsidies.

The city bought the property where until Nov. 19 Pappy's Liquors stood and sold it to the developers for $1, a $1.7 million rebate for the developers. To pay for infrastructure upgrades, the city authorized $8.8 million from the 43rd adn Cottage Grove tax-increment financing district, a pot of the neighborhood's property tax dollars to be used to spur local development.

The rental apartments are also heavily subsidized. The Community Builders, which is in charge of the residential portion of the development, will contribute $2.5 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Progam funds it was awarded by the federal government. When the units open to tenants, 54 of the project's 72 units will have some portion of the rents paid by the government. The Chicago Housing Authority will put up the cash for 24 units and low income tax credits will help fund 30 affordable units.

Even in the booming market of a couple years ago, the project was expected to receive some TIF funding and a deal on the property, but the developers credit the added rent subsidies with getting the project back on course. "Needless to say we were close to bringing this project before (the Community Development Commission) a year ago, then the housing market collapsed," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). Shops and Lofts is one of the final development the alderman will shepherd through the city process before leaving next month to take her new post as president of the Cook County Board.

Petruziello said he sees the immediate future development in the neighborhood as similar to the Shops and Lofts project, focusing on basic community retail that is not well represented in the local market with a complimentary rental-housing component.


Back Again- Flower Power. SECC and Chamber of Commerce have contracted with Panoramic Landscaping to install 2 seasonal planting and water and maintain all the baskets on 53rd and 55th. Cost is $26,000. The University pays half and matches additional dollars. Send checks to Flower Power at SECC, 152 E. 53rd street, 60615. 773 324-6926.
$590 all for a pair of baskets. $295 one, $150 plant material pair of baskets, $50 for one.
Dwarf mongo pines from the baskets are given away in spring.

The University of Chicago Dept. of Community Affairs has commissioned a survey of the neighborhood's wishes and perceptions about retail in Hyde Park. Results show we will have to be enterprising and convincing.

Cleanslate started May 2007. See the Cleanslate page.

Available: a brochure with map, "Visit Hyde Park's 57th Street- Food for Mind and Body." similar to the general "Edible/Incredible Hyde Park". Thanks,
U of C! Call the Chamber or SECC for copies.

What should be enforceable streetscape limits, especially for businesses facing residential-- such as the large moving-lights sign at Giordano's pizza on Blackstone?

Another trend in 2010- the big players cite increased rental demand and demand for living in Hyde Park. No word on whether rents are on the rise. But some smaller landlords say demand is down as perhaps soured condos create a shadow rental market and perhaps renters have more choices.

Hyde Park Produce open in its new, much larger digs in Kimbark Plaza.

Open Produce, which seeks to bring sustainability and transparency into the process continues to struggle. Small size and lack of enough funds to have enough staff are among the problems.

U of C alum Maggie Anderson and husband John have a program that seeks to have middle class African Americans and others buy only from black-owned businesses, to shore them up. It's called The Empowerment Experiment. Its director is Steven Rogers, director for the Kellogg Entrepreneurial Practice Center at Northwestern University. It's also a real research project, including how to meet unmet needs at distances. One goal is to support business in Hyde Park and Bronzeville, which have many black-owned businesses. (Absent: black-owned pharmacies, beauty supply, and general merchandise stores.

Read about Treasure Island's redo plans in the Grocery Scene page.

A new family and friends enterprise is preparing to open in the 1600 block of 55th. A fruit and vegetable market. See this bevy of young people go to work painting, moving in the unusual shelving, etc. They have posted a big sign for suggestions of what to carry and sign up to be on their listserve.

What does it say for vision for 53rd that yet another bank, 5th 3rd, has leased the former Osco space in the Dorchester Commons, while WaMu was closed (folded into Chase, which has a branch nearby) and the space reconverted to offices for owner MAC properties?

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.

Park 52: In spring 2009, while the restaurant at 5201 S. Harper is forced to be nimble and innovative like everyone else in this economy, it says it is holding its own and will introduce more dining options including lunch offerings, patio seating, weekly jazz night, Sunday brunch, and Wednesday bargains for UC students. The say "come on in" to restaurateurs with innovative concepts.

Several badly needed moderate zoning upgrades fro commercial buildings were approved in 2009.

Are we driving out the home-grown and business variety and should business and other orgs. intervene? The big issue is redevelopment of Harper Court. HPKCC and the TIF will be working together on an open RFP process.
Harper Ct sale
has the up to date material on this and other development process issues. Go to 53rd future vision and news.
Development navigator page.
Dr. Wake's and other letters (in Harper Court Sale) reveals the ugly and the wonderful about business-community relationships in Hyde Park. Blame for so much retail money going out of the neighborhood is spread far and wide--from the auto to people looking at price over convenience and service, from high rents and perceived developer greed to the tug between the University and others wanting high end and more outside businesses and, on the other, market pull toward rows of fast-foods and beauty salons, to in-a-rut business owners and big outfits (not always rationally) having no interest in our markets. There is a large component in the community that both wants the original mission of Harper Court--to promote, if necessary subsidize a variety of small and different businesses and also wants done what is necessary to make the business district a draw, even destination, to customers. The Chamber echoes that we are in a crisis and need to take actions regardless of holistic trends.

Similar issues were raised about tenants to be displaced from the Theater/53rd and Harper development- see Theater RFP page. Major upshots of the redevelopment would be upscale apparel and other missing boutique style shops (local and national), possible return to the neighborhood of Morton's or a similar bistro type restaurant, and upstairs office space. The University has helped several businesses in both sections to find new space locally.

Note that several national chains such as Borders' also are facing challenges, due in considerable part to market changes such as movie rental and music purchase--specifically Borders and Blockbuster (which bought out Coconuts).
What neighbors said about business climate in HPKCC Forum-additional discussion in Development page.

Note, though, that not only is the U of C helping relocate businesses but to grow new South Side businesses, including with the Law School Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship--advising and helping organize businesses including in Hyde Park (773 834-3129); Graduate School of Business Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship includes for nonprofits; Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge ( or com/findteam.htm.
Also Entrepreneurial Internship Program- Polsky Center at 773 834-4525 or
Office of Business Diversity, U of C includes workshops- Naida Quarles at
And this October, U of C and Hull House are offering a class at Clinical Legal Studies, 6020 S. University in entrepreneurship- $200. Tuesday evenings 6 sessions. 312 906-8600.

Kleiner restaurant, Checkerboard, HP Dining/conditions: HP next 'in' spot?
New: 2 block purchases likely to bring retail shifts- pluses and minuses, plans-in-progress, latest


Some of Hyde Park's unusual shops and services. Chamber of Commerce corner

Meetings and events

TIF meetings odd months 2nd Monday 7 pm. Next TIF meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 10, 2012- Kenwood Academy Little Theater (flagpole entry then walk all the way south), 5015 S. Blackstone.

3rd Wednesday, noon. Chamber of Commerce business networking lunch at Chant, 1509 E. 53rd St.

And 1st Thursdays at 5:30-7:30 pm. Chamber networking focus on individual business streets.

April 13, Wednesday, 6 pm. Update community meeting on MAC Properties' 53rd/Cornell high rise proposal. East View Tower, 5242 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

View from the Chamber, October 2008

See the view of the Chamber about the referendum on voting Drs Hospital dry-- in the Doctors Hospital page, section on reactions to the "dry" petition.

The chamber was preparing its 36th year with an annual dinner which included honoring the community organization partners: Blue Gargoyle, Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture, Chicago Children's Choir, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Hyde Park Historical Society, Hyde Park Jewish Community, Hyde Park and Kenwood Hunger Programs, Hyde Park Kiwanis, Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, South East Chicago Commission, as well as Robert Mason and Leon Despres.

The Chamber, which goes back to 1934, was reinvigorated after the disbanding of Hyde Park Business and Professional Men and Women in 1965. At that time Win Kennedy became a major spark, partly because the chamber could open doors to city and state funding of projects. During Kennedy's tenure 1971>, businesses were still concerned about the loss of depth and breadth during urban renewal, a concern that continues to this day. He still believes the businesses have to be organized to be heard in a "one company town". Many chamber members would add also where many react in an anti-development way. Joyce Feuer is another who became active in the Chamber in the 1970s. Feuer notes that the main challenge remains but the details have changed with the advent of big box and online shopping. She likes the informational and business-t0-business programs of the Chamber.

2008 wrap-up. Retail expands. (For overall see Business Climate.) By Gary Ossewaarde and reflecting views of its author.

Despite progressive emptying of Harper Court, continued vacancy of the Theater buildings and cleared 53rd Cornell (and earlier McDonalds) vacancies gradually filled in 2008 to the point where, as businesses moved from Harper Theater and Court, it became nearly impossible to find spaces for remaining to-be-evacuated tenants.

University-owned Hyde Park Shopping Center at 55th and Lake Park became completely filled for the first time in several years and its courtyard remained lively with special events or foot traffic. New occupants include DJ's Bike Repair, Home Made Pizza, U.S. Post Office (from the basement of the Co-op), and What the Traveler Saw.

The largest vacancy that opened up was Blockbuster on 53rd. The largest ongoing true vacancy on the edge of the neighborhood is the former 2nd Co-op store at 47th and Lake Park (1300).

The largest turnover was the replacement of Co-Op Markets with Treasure Island Foods (page deals with the whole rapidly expanding grocery scene), 1526 E. 55th St. after a bitter battle mostly in 2007. (Hyde Park Cooperative Society was entering final bankruptcy in late 2008.) Treasure Island undertook in late 2008 a complete remodeling of the store as a model for its other six. It has expanded specialty and organic inventory but kept many of the former vendors and its delivery service. Hyde Park Produce 12-- E. 53rd in Kimbark Plaza (actually opened in 2007 and continuing to be highly popular), Zaleski and Horvath 1126 E. 47th Street, Open Produce 1635 E. 55th St. , 61st and Bronzeville farmers' markets and others added to variety and competition in the area. There was concern about the impact of loss of Village Foods should a new Village Center at Lake Park and Hyde Park Blvd. go forward. HP Produce exhibited the best of mid-scale ethnically owned and operated grocers choosing to emphasize one side of the spectrum, fresh produce. And one of their employees was helped to open a new ethnic restaurant, the Sit Down, 1312 E. 53rd St. in the old space.

Z and H is probably the most specialized and engaged in stressing both energy-intensive rare, high-quality world specialty foods and the new trend toward localized and organic/green. Emphasized are organic artisan cheeses, meats and breads, refined produce, and highest-quality, hard to find ingredients plus salads, deli sandwiches and specialty beverages (with special one-cup machines to brew)-- exhibiting another trend, to combine food, coffeehouse, and take out staples and prepared foods in a personalized small one-stop. 61st Market, part of the innovative Experimental Station, seeks to grow the local and Midwest "natural" suppliers, fill a food desert, and bring communities together.
Open Produce store at 1635 E. 55th, owned by a Hyde Park University graduate trio, went further in the direction of total transparency, local area natural, with providing specialty foods for Chinese, Mexican, and Jewish residents. it also stays open later that most businesses in its area.

The restaurant scene continued to be lively and expand. See Restaurants and Entertainment for complete list and information about the restaurant scene.
Park 52, 5201 S. Harper, was the most spectacular entry, being a key desire of the University to bring in a destination signature high-end restaurant that inter alia would "hold" Harper Court area during redevelopment. It would join Petite Folie but be both larger, club-like and trendier-homier. It is hoped it will do well-- it has hired a new chef and adjusted its menu.
Shinju Sushi at 1357 E. 53rd St. has both to go and sit down for authentic Japanese specialties, boxes and teas.
The Sit Down, 1312 E. 53rd St. serves fine sushi and other Japanese specialties, pasta and pizza, and specialty sandwiches in a modern airy atmosphere and may add music.
Chant, 1509 E. 53rd (actually opened in late 2007?) is fusion Asian and a popular bar, with frequent live jazz and other music.

Also new: Fifth/Third Bank, 1420 E. 53rd Street was the latest of many bank additions and fills an anchor vacancy (former OSCO) in Dorchester Commons. The Detroit-based construction company worked with the Urban League and Kellogg School for jobs and training. Questions were raised about the survival of the Washington Mutual branch in the 1300 block of E. 53rd St. after the parent company crashed and was acquired by Chase, which has a branch nearby.
Smith and Smith Smile Studio. Two unrelated dentists with the same name bought out the practice of Dr. Marilyn Palm-Dorsey at 1457 E. Hyde Park Blvd.

Moved or closed: Art's Cycle was evicted by MAC Properties. One of the employees succeeded and ran a shop temporarily from the location at 1652 E. 53rd St. until it opened as DJ's Bike Doctor in the part of the Cohn and Stern space at 1500 E. 55th Hyde Park Shopping Center not occupied by newly-arrived (2007, from Harper Court) Toys Et Cetera.
Hyde Park Produce, about the start of 2008 moved into much larger former Mr. G's/Co-Op Express space in Kimbark Plaza (all or almost all filled). HPP has sponsored benefits at and for Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.
Kilamanjaro arts and apparel shop moved from University-emptied Harper Theater shops to 1305 E. 53rd. Other shops left moved within the neighborhood--US Computer, Noodles Etc. (became Chant plus remaining venue at 57th and Kenwood), Hyde Park Hair Salon, What the Traveler Saw, and more. Two stores there located outside Hyde Park.
Leaving or about to leave Harper Court (to be redeveloped) were Baby Ph D, Maravillas' Mexican Restaurant, Dr. Wax (across the street) ... the remaining were to be gone by January 31 2009 or have their leases bought out-- Calypso, Dixie Kitchen, Dr. Wake Veterinary, Sen. Raoul, Harper Ct. Foundation (to Bank Bldg.), Chamber of Commerce (to 5502 S. Everett), Plants Alive, C'est Si Bon...
Jimmy John's came in but three of another fast chain closed. Yet Starbucks left alone all local outlets despite having to close nationally 70% of all stores opened in the past three years (that were siphoning off a quarter of business from existing outlets).
Blockbusters closed.

University Market on 57th closes December 13 as a big UC rent increase would drive it into the red and that revenue had been flat to insufficient compared to Medici an the Bakery. Medici says it will move some of the specialties to its Bakery and that the proposed rent is not "market" but way above. The UC is expected to bring in a new business (said to be its plan anyway, using a rent hike instead of just declining to renew the lease), the new business is said to be "upscale" and to include a grocery or food component.
Replacing it will be a second Zaleski an Horvath MarketCafe with deli. After the space is remodeled, it should open in May. A feature under consideration is a glass curtain to enable purchase from inside or outside. Prices admittedly may be higher, such as for sandwiches similar to Medici sandwiches.

Valois Cafeteria and Hyde Park Hair Salon got world attention from the national campaign and election of Barack Obama.

The Children's Book Fair: Rebecca Janowitz passed torch to Angela Sherrill. The Used Book Sale did very well under Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and the Garden Fair sales did well.

The University of Chicago had been praised for its diligence in helping squeezed businesses relocate but criticized for letting vacancies go on too long, an inconsistent or unclearly set forth set of goals, and its role in the Co-Op debacle-- too lenient, then pouncing (some say laying a trap and paying $6 million to kick them out-- when its interests were hurt and pressuring the community for acceptance of its plan that was in some ways generous but also gets rid of a long-time community institution it did not control but had enticed onto its property nearly 50 years ago. See Co-Op home. In fall 2008, the University was criticized as biased in whom it would help relocate, arbitrarily deciding who is viable and "wanted" in a to-be-upscaled neighborhood, and all too quickly after purchasing Harper Court ditching any vestige of the original purpose of Harper Court as a fall back for desired, difficult to be sustainable businesses.

University buys Hollywood Video building, empties it. Says undecided on keeping, maybe re renting, bundling with city lot/Harper Court RFP. Herald, January 18 2009. By Kate Hawley.

Customers of the Hollywood Video at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue hurried to return their movies late last week, as worker packed up the stock and loaded it onto trucks.

The store's closing comes weeks after the University of Chicago bought the building, 1530 E. 53rd St. A warranty deed filed with Cook County on Jan. 5 shows that Spiros and Mary Argiris of Hickory Hills conveyed the property to Lake Park Associates Inc., a subsidiary of the University of Chicago, on Dec. 31. University spokesman Steve Kloehn confirmed Friday that the university has purchased the property.

Public records don't reveal a price for the parcel. Spiros also owns Valois Cafeteria, the Hyde Park mainstay at 1518 E. 53rd St. [Added: Argiris is believed to have loan arrangements for the buildings with Hyde Park Bank.] The closing of the Hollywood Video store was arranged under the building's previous owner, according to Kloehn, who added, "The university's purchase did not spur the closing." The university has no immediate plans for the building, he said. The store is adjacent to property that the university and the city are planning to redevelop into a major mixed-use complex, a nearly three-acre site [that] includes a city-owned parking lot and the Harper Court shopping center on Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets.

"We acquired this land after the arrangement with the city [to redevelop Harper court and the parking lot], so it will be interesting to see how this might contribute or add value," said Bob Rosenberg, associate vice president for public affairs at the university. "In the larger scope of things, it's an opportunity.

The Hollywood Video property might also be redeveloped separately, he said--depending on what works best in the economic downturn. "Look, realistically, we are in a tough time right now," he said. "there's very little money out there right now."...University officials have also held out the possibility that the [Harper Court Area] site might grow to include the Harper Theater and Herald building on the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue. Top

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. As of Sept. 1 2009 the City Council Zoning Committee had approved the change to B3-3 and is City Council is expected to approve at its Sept. 9 meeting.

University/Dr. Wake letter to the Herald July 15, 2009

Our vet has a new home.

On behalf of the Hyde Park Animal Clinic and the University of Chicago, we are taking the unusual step of writing a joint letter to update the community about ongoing relocation efforts for the clinic. The university recognizes the need for veterinary services for the neighborhood and has always been anxious to support Dr. Wake and Hutchings as the providers of these services. Hyde Park animal Clinic is a valuable resource, having served Hyde Park and near South Side communities for more than 28 years.

For the last nine months, the university and Dr. Wake have been working together to find a new neighborhood home for Hyde Park Animal clinic. Dozens of potential locations have been explored by the university and Hyde Park Animal Clinic, but none were suitable for the needs of a veterinary hospital. After reviewing all options, Hyde Park Animal Clinic has come up with a solution that will be very exciting for the community. A clinic office will be opened at 1365 E. 53rd St. to provide outpatient services for dogs, cats, surgery, dental procedures and boarding for cats.

A second location is being negotiated on 71st Street near Stony Island where we hope to establish a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital with boarding and daycare services.

The university and clinic are pleased that all the hard work has paid off and that Dr. Wake wil continue to care for our pets for many years to come. We see this progress as part of the ongoing effort to create a new, more vital 53rd Street.

Dr. Thomas Wake, DVM, Nim Chinniah, Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, University of Chicago.

Animal clinic moves next door to Freehling. Veterinarian Tom Wake thanks Sue Freehling for "helping to solve a very difficult problem;" zoning change needed

Herald, July 15, 2009. By Kate Hawley

After a nine-month search, the Hyde Park Animal Clinic has identified a new neighborhood location for some of its services and is negotiating to acquire land near 71st Street and Stony Island Avenue for a larger veterinary hospital. The clinic is currently located in the Harper Court Shopping Center, which is slated for redevelopment by the University of Chicago and the city. The university has been assisting the clinic and its lead veterinarian, Dr. Tom Wake, in the relocation effort....

In Hyde Park, Wake plans to open an office in a space formerly occupied by a Subway restaurant at 1365 E. 53rd St., in the building that houses Freehling Pt & Pan Co. the 1,900-square-foot office will provide outpatient services for dogs and cats, overnight boarding for cats, some surgery and some dental procedures, according to Wake. The larger veterinary hospital planned for 71st Street would provide a broader menu of services.

Before Wake can move into the new 53rd Street location, the building must undergo a zoning change, from a B1-3 neighborhood shopping district to a B3-3 community shopping district. The higher zoning designation allows a wider range of businesses to occupy the building, though certain businesses such as payday loan stores and tattoo parlors must undergo community review. The B3-3 zoning does not allow changes to the building's size or density.

The university is backing the zoning change and has hired attorney Danielle Meltzer Cassel of Vedder Price to represent its interests. [She is handling similar zoning changes for Silliman Group/Antheus.] She made the case for teh zoning change Monday at a meeting of the advisory council that oversees the 53rd street tax-increment financing district. The council votes to approve the change, paving the way for the Chicago City Council to take up the issue.

Sue Freehling, who owns the Freehling Pot & Pan co. and the building it occupies, said she also supports the zoning change. "I hope it goes through," she said.

Wake expressed gratitude to the university for its help in finding a new location and to Freehling for agreeing to let him open his clinic in her building, next door to her store. "I am very grateful to Mrs. Freehling for helping to solve a very difficult problem," he said. Top


Tribune May 29 2009. Hyde Park eatery's luck goes south. By Joel Hood. Despite a friend in the White House, the Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop is losing its lease after 15 years as it landlord, the University of Chicago, fishes for developers.

The Hyde Park neighborhood may be enjoying a renaissance with new development and a local guy in the White House, but not even a rave review by that-man-who-would-be-president could save one of its most popular restaurants. The Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop, a soul and Cajun food joint frequented by aging academics, university students, black community leaders, and just plain ordinary folks since 1994, will shut down June 7, owner Carol Andresen said. Some of the restaurant's most popular dishes-- from gumbo and fried baby catfish to the piping hot Johnny cakes-- will be incorporated into Andresen's sister restaurant, Calypso, which is next door. But most of the menu and most of Dixie Kitchen's staff will not, becoming a casualty of teh growing pains of a neighborhood on the move.

"I feel like Granny Clampett sitting out on my front porch with a shotgun, waiting for the wrecking ball to come," said Andresen, a Hyde Park resident since 1985. "But we're closing down because we really don't have another choice."

Last year, the University of Chicago purchase the 1960s-era Harper Court complex that houses Dixie Kitchen , Calypso, and artists studio and a few other locally owned businesses of 53rd Street, the heart of Hyde Park's commercial and entertainment district. It is not forcing out tenants, but not renewing leases. Dixie Kitchen's lease is up while Calypso's runs until 2012. In a series of meetings with local lawmakers and teh public, the university outlined a plan to transform the antiquated hodgepodge of building into a more modern retail center.

With its mix of students, academics, white-collar and blue-collar workers, few neighborhoods in Chicago are as diverse as Hyde Park and nearby Kenwood, which President Barack Obama and his family call home. So determining the needs and wants of such an eclectic mix is no simple task, said Susan Campbell, the university's associated vice president for civic engagement. Some want more retail shopping, including national chains that are scarce in those parts. Others see a need for more office space, restaurants and the kind of quirky specialty stores more commonly found on the North Side, Campbell said.

And that has some, including Andresen, worried that the reconfigured Harper Court will be too costly for teh small "mom-and-pop" stores and restaurants that have defined it since the 1960's "You'll probably see a Gap or a Starbucks move in her, and it'll be just like any other part of the city," Andresen said. "These buildings were built to promote the ars in Hyde Park, and it'll be sad to see them go."

Andresen and her husband, Paul, were an unlikely pair to strike it big with a Cajun/soul food restaurant in one of the country's most prominent African-american enclaves. The Minnesota couple had some restaurant experience, but had never owned anything like Dixie Kitchen when the opportunity came to leases an oddly-shaped, 2,000-squre-foot space in Harper Court. The Andresens took a look at the neighborhood's diversity and decided the restaurant's menu and decor should pay homage to its African-American roots. Andresen hired chef Chris Miller away from a local hotel, and she still comes in every morning at 5 a.m. to make the desserts and bake the muffins. The couple also hired chefs well-versed in other cuisines.

When Dixie Kitchen opened in 1994, it was an immediate hit. Locals flocked for classic Southern dishes such as shrimp po 'boy sandwiches, fried green tomatoes,crawfish and corn fritters. The Johnny cakes made of fried cornmeal and topped with sweet butter became an instant classic. But Andresen found that customers also responded favorably to the decor, which had weather-worn wood paneling, chipped window frames, old tim cans and antique signs to resemble a country store you might find on the Bayou in the 1930s.

By 1995, Chicago magazine had named Dixie Kitchen one of the 10 best new restaurants in the city. And over the years, Andresen added a second Dixie Kitchen in Evanston and a third in Lansing. "The whole thing just worked together, and people really loved it," Andresen said.

Another boost came during the presidential election when an old taping of the local restaurant review show "Check, Please!" surfaced on-line featuring Obama raving about Dixie Kitchen and , specifically, the Johnny cakes. "Those Johnny cakes, they'll get you early and you won't have room for the peach cobbler," Obama said in the August 2001 taping.

Despite the rocky economy, Dixie Kitchen is as popular today as when it opened. On a recent Thursday night, virtually every table was filed and people mingled outside while awaiting tables. Customers, many of whom had been coming to Dixie Kitchen from the beginning, spoke as if they were losing a member of their family. "I'm just so sad over this," said Hyde Park resident Renee Morissette-Thomas. "I feel like this is being taken away from us, and for what? This is a very special place."

Andresen said she shopped around for another location but couldn't find a space, for the right price, that had adequate size and parking. She's still looking. "The cost of moving a restaurant, especially one this old, is really high and it just seems tough to recreate the same atmosphere somewhere else," Andresen said. "We've had the most wonderful customers for so long. It's sad to have to say goodbye." Top

Spot control of liquor licensing is on the rise in 2008 as a tool for business control, but in very different ways. Zoning was granted for 1600 E. 55th block, the Del Prado, and sanctioned by TIF for 1350 E. 53rd St.

One is the placement on the November 2008 ballot in Precinct 39, Ward 5 of a proposition to dry the precinct in order to stop the University-White Lodging hotel redevelopment of the Doctors Hospital site. It is both praised as direct democracy using a neighborhood local option/home rule tool and opposed as misapplication for a purpose that only few think has to do with any likely deleterious or "destination" effects of inside alcohol service in a restaurant-conference center and would instead put a chill on development period far beyond the site. This the debate is partly over NIMBYism on one side and University gorillism and assault on area character on the other. South East Chicago Commission and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce both oppose the referendum and support the hotel project while the Herald opposes the referendum but wants the hotel project revisited.

MAC Properties has petitioned for rezoning that would allow liquor licenses for the row of ethnic restaurants it landlords in the 1600 block of E. 55th St. between the viaduct and Cornell Ave. Included would be Morry's Deli, which raises some amused brows) but not the dollar store across Cornell, whose predecessor liquor store was voted dry a few years ago for alleged deleterious effect and activities. An informal pre-submission pre-hearing was held by Ald. Hairston. The restaurants are generally seen as conservative major contributors to the business and cultural scene and a draw, including for students' parents, that need the help and flexibility in the economic times from ability to sell alcohol (assuming they can qualify for individual licenses). Some nearby residents either feared increases in activity and parking demand or feared deleterious effects, even claiming every liquor license leads to problems, not true (i.e. Piccolo Mondo, but often true for the Cove and Bar Louis) in this writer's observation and more noise in that area coming from residents over the stores. These matters are not always simple, as needing review would be the proposed category in the recently revised city code to examine all and any changes that might be allowed in addition to liquor licenses, that might be feasible in these establishments and could affect quality of life--e.g. rooftop or sidewalk patios, live music, etc. As for change coming, it already will be with Solstice on the Park-- likely one of the motivations for the zoning change by the landlord which is also building Solstice. (Note: Finishing on 55th exterior repair work and removal of the scaffolding would in this writer's view give an immediate lift to the restaurants and stores on the block. Also, in full disclosure, MAC Properties is a major donor to Ald. Hairston's electoral campaigns.)

Chicago Maroon, October 3, 2008. By Lokchi Lam:

A rezoning proposal that would allow several Hyde Park restaurants to acquire liquor licenses was presented by MAC Property Management in an informal neighborhood meeting on Thursday night. The potentially affected restaurants, including Morry's Delicatessen, The Nile, Thai 55, Cafe Corea, and Kikuya, are on 55th Street between the Metra tracks and cornel Avenue; all hold leases with MAC.

According to MAC representative Peter Cassel, the objective of the proposal was to boost revenues for the restaurants. "There's almost nothing else on the menu you can sell with those kind of margins," Cassel said. "They told us they were looking to improve their businesses, and we put together this plan with the very direct goal to help them with their businesses."

The rezoning application, if submitted to the city, would request a change in the buildings' statuses, allowing the restaurants to acquire liquor licenses and provide occasional entertainment and dancing.

Several Hyde Park residents expressed concern that increased traffic caused by the rezoning would compound local parking problems, raise the price of dining out, and cause alcohol-related disturbances for neighbors living near the restaurants. "Every place that has a liquor license creates problems neighbors that live near it," said resident Elizabeth Long at the meeting. "I really don't like the idea of creating more and more of that... It could potentially change what this area and this block is about."

However, Alderman Leslie Hairston, who also attended the meeting, responded to resident concerns by pointing to checks and balances in the licensing system. "It's not like it'll be a free-for-all, and everyone is dancing in the streets... We can take away their license if things get out of control," she said. Cassel echoed Hairston's sentiments. "It's not so much about consumer experience as their ability to make money on that," he said. "We're looking to help the businesses grow so they'll invest in the interior and invest in the restaurant experience."



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.

Open Produce goes beyond green and organic

Chicago Maroon, October 7, 2008. By Ella Christoph

College grads open new produce store

From Javascript to java beans, from Cauchy's theorems to Kashi cereal, a pair of U. of C. graduates have left behind their math books and taken on the world of groceries.

Andrew Cone (A.B. '06) and Steven Lucy (A.B. 06) recently launched their new grocery store, Open Produce, on East 55th Street [near] South Cornell Avenue, where they're supplying Hyde Parkers with fresh fruit, vegetables, and ideas.

Just a few months ago, it was hard to guess that for Cone and Lucy, the future held groceries. Cone, who has a degree in mathematics and computer science, worked as a computer programmer and at a hedge fund before leaving his desk job. Lucy received a degree in mathematics and history of science and worked as a free lance we designer and information technology consultant in San Francisco before returning to Hyde Park. Dissatisfied with their jobs in computers and finance, the two decided they wanted to create something, meet people, and see their work in concrete end-product.

But competition is stiff in Hyde Park, and grocery options in the neighborhood have expanded in recent months. Hyde Park Produce founded a new location on East 53d Street and South Kimbark Avenue, and Treasure Island opened a new store in place of the Hyde Park Co-op. The grocery business stands only to get touchier with the specialty grocery store Zaleski & Horvath MarketCafe slated to open soon on East 47th Street.

But Cone and Lucy remain confident that they can carve a niche for Open Produce amid Hyde Park's burgeoning grocery scene by offering a unique shopping experience for their patrons. As customers choose between price and sustainability, location and organic offerings, Open Produce's proprietors hope to offer an answer: fairly priced, healthy, organic offerings for all Hyde Park residents. Even with a growing number of grocery offerings in Hyde Park, most shoppers prioritize shopping at a convenient location within a quarter of a mile of their homes, Cone said. He hopes to attract Shoreland and Broadview residents on their way to and from campus as well as use his unique mission to appeal to buyers.

"People need to be made aware of the origins and nature of what they're buying at the time of purchase," Cone said. "When the effects of people's actions are transparent, this is what I believe empowers people to act morally and to act correctly." They hope to create a more transparent operation than conventional grocery stores. That is, they will display wholesale prices as well as the price at which they sell goods and where the item comes from. Open Produce displays both wholesale and retail prices. The wholesale price of a jar of guava jelly, $1.98, is listed above its retail price of $3.00. The store also offers unusual treats: coffee made by hippies" and "chocolate made by Catholics." Cone and Lucy also regularly post photographs of their trips to wholesale markets on the Open Produce blog.

Open Produce also sells its produce by the item, as opposed to the conventional method of selling produce by the pound. Cone pointed out that few people know how much a banana weighs. Open Produce's organic, free trade bananas cost 35 cents each, or about 83 cents a pound--a price tag that promises stiff competition for Treasure Island's $1.19-a-pound organic bananas or even its 70-cents-a-pound conventional bananas.

Bananas are one of a number of foods that Open Produce supplies specifically to appeal to college students. Many of the store's fresh foods and packaged items are easy to eat on the go or without a kitchen and exotic candies are displayed near the register are designed to attract curious students. Cone and Lucy hope to use their familiarity with the lifestyle of U of C students to reel in customers.

A vegan who is dedicated to animal rights and environmental concerns, Cone said that he is not interested in the upscale, gourmet products sold at many organic and locally grown produce stores an boutiques. "They're not trying to change the world. They're trying to change the way rich people eat," Cone said.

Small suburban and city chain Michael's Fresh Foods signs lease for former 47th Co-Op space in August 2009, tracks for fast opening, promises full-service and catering to community needs and hiring

Hyde Park Herald, September 2, 2009. By Kate Hawley. [Note: how the space was finally released from Certified control is not revealed in the article.]

Michael's Fresh Markets, a small family-owned grocery chain, is planning to open a store at 1300 E. 47th St., the pace formerly occupied by the Hyde Park Co-Op Market. George Dernis, a partner in Michael's, and Glenn Azuma, a manager of Lake Park LLC, the landlord for teh roughly 42,000-square-foot store, said they signed a long-term lease last week.

Dernis said teh store will be fully remodeled and offer meats, produce, deli, seafood, a bakery and a wide range of organic items. "We sure would like to open by February 2010," he said. "We're going to do a store for the community."The store will employ 60 to 80 people including managers, clerks and stock positions, he said, adding that he will emphasize local hiring.

The space has been vacant since January 2005, when the Co-Op Market closed after just five years. Critics of the project complained that it was too expensive to build, and that it had too much close competition to be successful. Another factor in its demise was $1 million in annual rent, stipulated in a 25-year sublease agreement between the Hyde Park Cooperative Society and Certified Grocer. The steep rent and stringent lease also contributed to the closure of the main Co-Op store in the Hyde Park Shopping Center, at 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue, which folded in January 2008. The cooperative is now in bankruptcy.

Certified held the lease on the 47th Street space until the new lease was signed last week. Azuma declined to give specifics on the new lease agreement.

Ald. toni Preckwinkle (4th) said filling the space with a viable business will be an asset to the community. "The truth is that I don't know very much about Michael's, but I'm pleased that teh community will have a grocery store to meet its needs," she said. She said she will invite Dernis to the Oct. 1 meeting of the North Kenwood-Oakland Conservation Community Council to answer the community's questions and share his plans for the store.

Dernis said he has been in the grocery business for about 15 years. "We're still really young, we're aggressive, and a little hard work won't hurt anyone," he said. His partners in the 47th Street store are his brothers, Alex and John. The trio also own and operate Fresh Market stores in Harvey, Oak Park and Naperville. Another store is under construction in Downer's Grove, he said. With other partners, Dernis owns Mayfair Fresh Market near Pulaski Road and Lawrence Avenue in Chicago, and Kenosha Fresh Market in Wisconsin.



Publications point to likely retail development, 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.



John Frangias, Salonica and produce supplier to Hyde Park Produce owner, takes a critical look at how businesses are treated, including by residents (with stubborn loyalty to the Co-OP) and UC and Antheus (strangleholds), and encourages people to look at a successful, passionate model such as HPP.

"It's the economy, stupid." Recession, recession. Everybody is talking about it. The reality in Hyde Park is that it is already happening. The lack of any new business and the struggle of existing establishments to stay open is evident.

The stranglehold the University of Chicago has over the neighborhood and the presence of the East Coast investors that have taken control of a big chunk of the real estate (over 80 properties in five years), raising rents, emptying out buildings and displacing longtime tenants. Where is this money coming from and why so much in Hyde Park? They say they have a long-term plan. That's all well and good. I'm as much about progress as the next guy, but what happens in the meantime for the existing businesses? How will they survive when we are losing so many residents? Why would a small business want to start up and relocate here? The university's Master Plan and MAC Property's long-term vision is not working in the present environment.

On a lighter note: The best thing that has happened to our community in the past 20 years, the Hyde Park Produce Market, is close to opening at it new location. I urge every Hyde Parker to come a bring a friend, too. Get a feel of how a small business started, progressed and expanded through hard work and dreams. Sixteen years ago when the market opened on July 8, 1991, the biggest challenge was to get Co-Op loyalists to even come in and browse around. Co-Op customers that I shared at the Salonica Restaurant would look me in the eye, and with a bold face, tell me they are members of the Co-Op. (That meaning 'I will not come.') I say to them today, "Where is your Co-Op now?"


Jerry Kleiner restaurant: The restaurant, renamed Park 52, will likely open in March 2008 and includes a major re landscaping and entry on Harper and a moderate to upscale "steak and" menu. As quoted in the February 6 Herald, Kleiner said "Right now, we are working on paying fees, getting permits and city inspections. We should be open no later than March 10." Kleiner and partner Mac Brooks (a Hyde Parker) told the herald park 52 will be an upscale eating place for the professional crowd, serving steaks, salads, fish and soups for dinner and add brunch and lunch menu items at a later date.

At the October 25 2007 Annual Dinner of the Chamber of Commerce, President Jim Poueymirou said Hyde Park is poised for a rebirth and that businesses need to work together to make t his a great small town in a city : Think about how you're going to make this, our small town, a better place and beyond traditional boundaries.

Seminary Coop Bookstores back in black, on way back despite internet, Borders.

In May 2007 Alderman Preckwinkle invited businessmen and leaders and residents to Pizza Capri for an occasional discussion on improving 53rd- "Building Blocks." This focused on city efforts to get rid of rats on and around 53rd area, covering property tax increases, and a talk with city officials on how to take advantage of funds to improve small businesses. On rats, 4thWard Superintendent Ruby Woods stressed cutting off the food source, sealing the envelop including of dumpsters, and who is responsible for what. David Walvoord of the city explained the TIF-based Small Business Improvement Fund, which can be accessed at 312 360-3300. The alderman warned that city revenues are behind, expect property tax increases.

A forum was held Sept. 6 2006 on persons with disabilities and other impediments to getting around or being served in the community or businesses. A task force has been formed. Call George Rumsey oft the Conference, 773 955-4455, Lenora Austin at the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, 773 288-0124 or Sue Purrington at the 5th Ward Office, 773 324-5555. See report on the forum in our Disabled page. Watch for date of meeting of the task force. Teams have gone out educating and evaluating businesses on compliance with ADA, including service to persons with service dogs. Not every business has responded favorably or shown that they have learned well.

October 7 2006, the TIF Neighborhood and Business Environment Committee, co-chaired by Andre Brumfield and Jane Comiskey, with consultant Irene Sherr and persons from several stakeholder organizations (the invitation was open to all) walked 53rd, looking for opportunities for improvements and learning the latest facts about various infrastructure and businesses. Things looked at ranged from trees and tree grates, crosswalks, and alleyways/entrances and bike racks in need of help to businesses with sign blight, deteriorated paint jobs, sign blight, exterior security gates, or just plain blandness. The group also saw some spectacular successes they want to trumpet to the community-- we'll jump the gun by citing a clothing and hair salon in the 1300 block and Third World Cafe, and several whole buildings including the Third World building. A couple landscape opportunities were also seen, namely at United Church and Nichols Park. Ways to improve Dorchester Commons and Kimbark Plaza were also explored. Some expressed frustration at the pace of filling holes and vacancies. Hopes were that movement on the Harper Theater would start the ball rolling. Ways to rev up facade renovations were also thought to be needed. The information will be shared with the city departments, including Transportation, as well as the Aldermen and TIF.

The Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force sent teams to discuss with the local businesses accommodations for persons with disabilities and admission of persons with service dogs. Top

Ald. Preckwinkle set forth commercial development, esp. on 53rd and Cottage Grove, as the major challenge, along with schools.

The right tenant(s) and critical mass + right convenience can make a big difference: HP Shopping Center now, Kleiner's Grill in Harper Court next?

Herald, July 25, 2007. by Nykeya Woods

Hyde Park resident Lawnada Page likes what she sees happening at the Hyde Park Shopping Center, 55th street and Lake Park Avenue. The new shops filling the southern wing of the mall are a draw for her when other neighborhood stores are just not convenient enough. "I can park over here, go to the grocery store and then I an just walk over here. A lot of times when I'm on my way home or passing by, I can't stop because there's nowhere to park. But here I can park," Darling said.

Jo Reizner, vice president for the University of Chicago's real estate operations, said that leases for the former Joyce's Hallmark space have been signed and the build out is underway. The post office and What the Traveler Saw will split the former greeting card spot. The university is landlord for the mall. [In addition to Home Made Pizza,] Toys Et Cetera, 1502 E. 55th St., arrived in February and two more shops--the United States Post Office and What the Traveler Saw-- are set to move in the shopping center, she said. Just one spot- the shop where men's wear retailers Cohn and stern closed their doors earlier this year--remains vacant and unaccounted for.... Reizner said the university had initially decided that an ice cream parlor would b e the best tenant for the 3,228-square-foot space but had just about given up on that idea.

"We're still working on finding a super tenant for that spot. We were talking with lots and lots of ice cram parlors and now we are spreading our net a little further," Reizner said.

What the Traveler Saw adds a novelty travel gift store to the existing mix of two restaurants, a bakery, an optometrist, a shoe store and a toy store ringing the courtyard wing of the mall. This diversity of retail is paying dividends to the store owners, according to Nancy Stanek, owner of Toys Et Cetera. "I think we have increased traffic in the area and traffic is the name of the game. The more people who pass your store, the ore opportunity you have to sell your product," said Stanek. She said since moving her store gross profits have increased by nearly 60 percent.

Antwan Chandler, manager for Wesley's Shoe Coral, 1506 E. 55th St., said since Toys Et Cetera move in there has been a dramatic improvement in business. "We have seen a spike in our business since Toys Et Cetera came into the mall, which is increasingly great," Chandler said. "We had a drop off when Cohn & Stern left." Wesley's Shoe Coral has been in the same location on 55th Street for more than 20 years.

Stanek said she and Chandler expected even greater traffic when the post office moves in. In March, the post office, which is currently inside the Hyde Park Co-op Market 1526 E. 55th St., announced plans for its new street-level home.

While business in the courtyard may be booming, the recent additions there are all relocations. What the Traveler Saw, along with five other businesses, are moving from the Herald Building on the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue following purchase of the building by the University of Chicago. The university plans to redevelop the parcel and the attached theater. Toys Et Cetera left harper Court on Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets in January.

Kleiner shows it can be done, July 25 07 Herald editorial says (Now open at 5201 S. Harper)

If you haven't been to Harper Court for a while, you're in for a surprise. Restaurateur Jerry Kleiner demonstrates in dramatic fashion what can be done by his transformation of 5401 S. Harper Ave. From hand-painted bricks and wood paneling to an altogether new entryway, the Hyde Park Grill's exterior is a blueprint for Harper Court's future and likely magnet for a remade Harper Court. The interior was reportedly an extensive amount of work. The point can be done.*

[*This "Scan Furniture" building was constructed after Harper Court using different methods: Kleiner's and Checkerboard Lounge's remake in this structure are not proof that the current HC buildings can be successfully so remodeled. The "point" may be that Harper Court's successful redesign, with or without the current buildings, has a model and should be pursued, perhaps starting with a workshop/charette such a that suggested at the July 9 TIF meeting. Read on for the agenda of the Herald and its publisher Bruce Sagan, who is very involved in desire to save Harper Court through revitalization. Ed. GMO]

So lets do it. As we report this we this week, the 53rd street Tax Increment Financing district, purportedly designed to revitalize the area, has amassed another half-million dollars this year. This is our money reserved for our community. We believe public and open development of of 53rd Street and anchoring institutions like Harper Court are long overdue.

The quickest and most efficient use of TIF money is to begin restoring Harper Court immediately and revisit the mission of he court at the same time. What retail do we need in Hyde Park? How can we draw new artists and support the ones we already have through retail space development?

The opening of Hyde Park Grill will be a singular marketing opportunity for Harper Court, and the Harper Court Foundation would be remiss if that opportunity is not taken.

The restaurant marks the completion of the buildings's renovation, begun when the Checkerboard Lounge, 5201 S. Harper Ave., relocated to Hyde Park. People who have never visited Hyde Park are being drawn to the spot. We need to make sure they coming and visit businesses not only in Harper Court but also 53rd Street and beyond.

We understand there are other priorities**--the annex for Canter Middle School, for example--that have been agreed upon as priorities for TIF dollars.

We could begin a well-financed planning process with a top-notch planning organization using the interest alone accruing from the nearly $2 million the fund has collected. Now is the time to be proactive. And Jerry, welcome to the neighborhood.

[**When Ald. Preckwinkle and the city Dept. of Planning set up the TIF, they said it was not to aid developers but to provide public amenities and other pubic purposes. Still, it is formally a "commercial district" TIF.] Top

Does HP have a perceptual land use dilemma- perceptions of density vs bus. development?

Sylvia Telser writes the August 1 Herald:

Hyde Parkers want successful stores offering a range of products at reasonable prices. Hyde Parkers do not want high-rise development built on currently empty lots and boarded up buildings.

Go to the South Loop and points north and what does one see? Many successful stores bustling with customers. Whence come these paying customers? From the high density high-rise developments surrounding the retailers. It takes a critical mass of population to support purveyors of goods profitably. Will Hyde Parkers ever resolve this dilemma? Top

January 2010 Dr. Wax succumbed to changes in the music market and the economy, and closed its final set of doors on Harper Avenue. Here is a bit about its past.

Is treatment of Dr. Wax in 2007 summer indicative of Harper Court turning its back on its original purpose, Hyde Park and the arts?

Dr. Wax's owner and employees are highly appreciative of many including the university who have come forward to help explore options and sites for this small business that attracts and serves customers and djs from a wide area. "Fantastic!" Meanwhile, Marcus Davis' on line petition has already received 1,300 signatures. Harper Court Foundation has not answered inquiries.

Another Hyde Park staple forced out. Botched Dr. Wax lease with Harper Court to blame. Hyde Park Herald, August 1, 2007. By Nykeya Woods

Sam Greenburg has been slowly telling customers that his longtime Hyde Park record store Dr. Wax will have to close at the end of August. As a result, loyal shoppers have started an online petition to try to save the 15-year-old establishment. "Everyone is bummed out," Greenburg told the Herald.

"I didn't tell anyone this week until I was pretty sure I couldn't find another location." Greenburg never expected that he would have to voluntarily close. More than one year ago, he submitted a proposal tot he Harper Court foundation to renegotiate his monthly rent from $3,000 to $2,000, he said. In the letter, Greenburg indicated that he would go back to his original rent price once business picked up. Business rebounded in February and he began paying $2,200, he said.

Then [they] called [me] into the [office on] June 22. [They] told [me] that they wanted their back rent, which was about $15,000. [Leslie Cole Morgan] said that [they] got [my] letter, but [they] never signed anything to that effect. [They want the back rent," Greenburg said. "So basically we came to a mutual agreement that I would close at the end of August." Harper court Foundation President Leslie Cole Morgan declined to comment.

Greenburg said that he does not want to close the store, but at present, he has no other option. So far he has been unable to find another location in the neighborhood and has even looked in nearby Bronzeville.

Greenburg moved from Columbus, Ohio to Lincoln Park, where he opened a record store in the late 1970s. Several years later he moved to the neighborhood and opened Dr. Wax in the location currently occupied by Hyde Park Produce, 1312 E. 53rd st., around 1987. Greenburg then opened two additional Dr. Wax stores in Edgewater and Evanston, neither of which he currently owns. "Dr. Wax is more than just a store. That's mainly because of the employees," Greenburg said. "The two mainstays, Charles Williams and Duane Powell, are the main reason people come to this store." Greenburg said that his employees have included local hip-hop and independent rock artists, and several DJs from WGCI.

Local DJs like Kymya, who uses only one name, are shocked that Dr. Wax may close. "If we lose Dr. Wax it will be like a smack in the face to people who are not only DJs, but people who love music.".. Kymya said that Greenburg carries a variety of musical genres that is hard to find on the South Side. She also said that the store offers multiple mediums like vinyl LP{s and CDs, new or used for those on a budget. "This is kind of a staple in the music industry, [having] a place where you can get underground music. It's just horrible that it will close," Kymya said.

Hyde Park resident Marcus Davis was so disgusted by the possible closure that he started an online petition, At herald press time the petition was less than a week old and had nearly 227 signatures. " I know the petition is not going to be enough in and of itself to stop Dr. Wax from closing," Davis said. "But I hope that it can serve as sort of a persuasive representation of just how much of an impact the store has had and t hat can help to galvanize the community and embarrass Ald. [Toni] Preckwinkle and Harper Court Foundation into considering the steps to be taken to hopefully prevent the store from closing. "

Davis, also a DJ, said that the store has helped local artists, like vocalist Tanya Reed. (Reed signed the online petition and sid that her CD, "Tanya Reed Live In Chicago," benefited from being in the record store.)

Davis also said that allowing the record store to close is contrary to Harper Court founding mission- to provide a location for artists and artists and displaced by Urban Renewal. He questioned the future of independent businesses in Hyde Park. "To see an institution like Dr. wax be pushed out I guess in the interest of market rent I t think that it kind of goes in the face of the original intent. It speaks to a larger trend in Hyde Park period, in terms for making it a mall," Davis said.

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lenora Austin said that Dr. wax would be a major loss for music lovers and the business community. She said those who have gone to the internet for music are overlooking personal touch Dr. Wax provides. "I know people that use the Internet for the kind of services that Greenburg provides, but the experience is not the same," Austin said.

Greenburg has been on a month-to-month contract with the foundation since last year. He is planning on talking to the University of Chicago about its vacancies.

Letter August 22 by Marcus E. Davis in Herald says Court board puts greed over culture; raises general issues about HP retail and spirit

While I remain hopeful Dr. Wax wil be able to continue its existence at a different location, I find it a tremendous embarrassment that the Harper Court Foundation (HCF) has failed to respond to the community's outcry both in Chicago and around the world to save this cultural hub.

When I started the online petition asking HCF to reconsider its decision to price Dr. wax out of Harper Court,, I never imagined it would elicit the type of response it has . At the time of this letter, almost 1,600 people have offered their support, and the numbers continue to grow.

People from a myriad of backgrounds and from as far away as Africa have left heartfelt comments about how much this store has impacted their life and how tremendous a loss it would be to see it not around for future generations.

Yet HCF's Board of Directors continues to hide behind its Executive Director Leslie Cole Morgan, who refuses to engage the community about the future o the Hyde Park legend in a transparent fashion.

I suppose this is not surprising considering the manner in which Harper Court has been eroded over the years, best represented by the razing of the historic chess boards which served as a place where different generations and cultures could convene and discover each other.

People my call be dramatic for being so incensed about the closing of a record store. Much larger stores such as Virgin Mega Store and Tower Records have all fallen in the wake of the digital age. But that analysis is not applicable here.

Dr. Wax embodies the spirit of creativity and independence that supposedly comes from being a Chicagoan. For years, they have proven their dedication to working in concert with the community to cultivate our emerging but still fragile music scene. Their sales have actually rebounded in the last year.

And it is simply offensive that, in a city where we give billion-dollar corporations tax breaks worth thousands of dollars, no one from the alderman down, can see it fit to preserve this most essential place.

Those at the Harper Court Foundation so consumed with greed they disrespect the obvious desires of the people should be ashamed of themselves. They should also be prepared for the repercussions.

The soul of Hyde Park is being exported in a very clandestine manner. I hope those in the community continue to show their disapproval and pressure the HCF and our elected officials to do something to turn this nonsense around.




"CHANT" opened- a fine cuisine of Asia restaurant that will succeed both Far East Kitchen (where it will be at 1511 E. 53rd) and Noodles Etc. in the former Herald building. A very chic design.

Jerry Kleiner's Park 52, a long anticipated destination restaurant by the highly respected creators of popular fine theme eateries in various parts of the city, Opened April 2008

Located a 5201 N. Harper, just north of Harper Court, the structure, renovated at considerable time and expense and with classy brick and wood and tile, is described by Kleiner to the Herald as providing "American comfort food that's here for everyone: e just felt there as a need to do a restaurant that was a little bit sophisticated here." Translated: upscale eating for a professional crowd, especially after work, and affordable: steaks, salads, fish, soups. Mainly dinner, later maybe lunch or brunch.

Partner is Mark Brooks, who recently opened Room 21 at 2110 S. Wabash. Brooks told the Herald this is an exciting moment because of new developments. Gardens and outdoor seating is expected to help change the dynamic of the area, which sometimes seems abandoned.

Small business rehab funds available, but have heavy restrictions. 4 businesses were able to take advantage.

Visit the Small Business Improvement Fund page.

The business must be small and independent and in the 53rd Street TIF District to qualify for the Small Business Improvement funds up to $50,000. Eligible are pretty owners with net worth less than $4 million or tenants earning less than $1.5 million in sales with a lease for at least 3 years. Ineligible are what some will doubtless feel are those most needing rehab: national chains, currency exchanges, pay day loan stores, liquor stores, bars hotels, astrology and palm readers, trailer storage and junk yards. Grants can be use for roof and facade improvements, HVAC and mechanical systems, floor and interior buildout and land purchase. Excluded are new construction, painting, equipment, and planters.

The grants are from 53rd TIF funds (one of 13 tifs participating in the city). No guidelines of who or how selection will be made have yet been drawn up. It is very open ended.

Applicants must be in compliance with SBIF requirements and go through a lottery process. Deadline in March 23. Applications area available at the 4th Ward Office, 4659 S. Cottage Grove, 773 536-8103,the Chamber, 5211 S. Harper, and South East Chicago Commission, 1511 E. 53rd upstairs. Top

Crain's reports Hyde Park Borders' with 3 other city locations may be subleased, even closed by parent.

Bookseller looks to sublease Uptown, Hyde Park and 2 Lincoln Park locations. This seems to be as much or more due to national trends, such as other ways to buy music, online book purchasing as to problems with business level or other problems at the local stores. See below on other takes.

Chicago Business News, Analysis & Articles | Borders may close four Chicago stores | Crain's

(Crain's) — Borders Group Inc. may close four of its eight Chicago stores, including two in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Borders, the nation’s second-largest bookseller, has hired a local real estate brokerage firm to sublease the four stores, according to real estate industry sources.

The stores being marketed include two Lincoln Park locations, at 2817 N. Clark St. and 755 W. North Ave., the Uptown outlet at 4718 N. Broadway Ave. and the Hyde Park location at 1539 E. 53rd St.

Three of the stores, Uptown, North Avenue and Hyde Park, opened in the last four years.

No other Borders locations, including two downtown — on State Street and Michigan Avenue — in Lincoln Village on the Far North Side , Beverly on the South Side or its roughly 25 suburban stores, are being marketed for sub-lease, sources say.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Borders is coming off a difficult holiday season in which sales at stores open more than a year fell 1.9%. In January, the company cited falling store traffic and a “steep decline” in music sales for the holiday results.

On Thursday, new CEO George Jones is expected to announce a new strategic plan, which sources say could involve closing stores, when the company reports its full-year results.

“There’s nothing wrong with that real estate,” says Allen Joffe, a principal with Baum Realty Group who heads the firm’s retail leasing division and isn't involved in marketing the four Borders' sites. “I would have to assume Chicago would be part of the broader, national strategy.”

A Borders spokeswoman says she doesn’t know whether the stores are being marketed for sublease. But she says the stores haven’t been slated to close. She also notes that the retailer has marketed stores for sublease for years, including one on Park Avenue in Manhattan, that the chain still operates.

“It doesn’t cost anything to put it out there to see if anyone is interested in the retail space,” the spokeswoman says. “That doesn’t mean we’re closing. It could take years to find a subtenant.”

Borders has hired Oak Brook Terrace-based Mid-America Real Estate Corp. to market the four stores, sources say. Mid-America Principal Jeff Kuchman declines to comment.

Wall Street is expecting Mr. Jones, who took over as CEO last July, to announce a new direction for Borders, which has tried to expand by opening new stores in the U.S. and abroad while remodeling existing stores in recent years, according to Morningstar Inc. analyst Joseph Beaulieu in Chicago.

The company in January acknowledged it is seeking to sublease a Borders in downtown Minneapolis. Top

Irene Sherr takes a more complex take on the possibilities for Borders, including Borders' denial it plans to closed the store. (But some note this would be a particularly damaging closure because of the separateness and location of the building.)

Border's low sales not Hyde Park's Fault. April 4, 2007 Herald

The Herald's recent story ) Borders reports low sales at HP store, may close, March 28) did not present an accurate picture of the situation. The story made it sound as if the Hyde Park's Borders' "underperformance" was the neighborhood's fault.

The reality is that the Hyde Park Borders situation largely reflects the company's overall performance and what is happening in the retail book and music industry.

In the 1990's booksellers grew by opening additional bricks and mortar locations. Retail growth has slowed, which has forced Barnes & Noble, Borders and other retail bookstores to look towards e-commerce as a way to improve their bottom line. It is a very competitive field and quite difficult to compete successfully against Amazon.

According to Ann Binkley, Borders' director of public relations, Borders does not plan to close the Hyde Park store, but explore the feasibility of sub-leasing the space of four "underperforming" stores in Chicago. Ours is one, another is in Uptown and the other two are in Lincoln Park, including the landmark store at Clark and Diversey.

The facts are that orders lost $73.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2006 compared to $119.1 million of net income for the same period in 2005. Even Borders CEO George Jones explained in a March 22 press release, "Our company's performance has fallen short in an industry that is increasingly competitive, technology driven and price sensitive."

On a neighborhood level, Borders entered the market facing well established competition from 57th Street Bookstore, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Powell's and Barnes & Noble. Hyde Park's independent bookstore have a fiercely loyal customer base. In addition, the 53rd Street store seems to have been plagued with management and operational challenges since it opened.

Considering all of these issues, the Herald's story about Borders appears to place undo responsibility on the community. Hopefully this story will serve as a wake up call to Borders to work a little harder and renew their commitment to better serve the customers on the Mid South Side of Chicago.

In return Borders may see a brighter bottom line. For now it is good to know they will be staying in the neighborhood.

[Caveat- customers do make some of the problems, including the squatters--and not just homeless, but people who just sit and work their laptops or browse the papers/mags and don't buy.]



Post Office left former Co-op basement for former Hallmark space 2 doors down in the same Hyde Park Shopping Center

The Post Office moved...

The U.S. Post Office held a rare public hearing March 6 on its near-certain move from overcrowded and hard to manage quarters in the lower level of the Co-op 55th market to the former Joyce's Hallmark, in the same shopping center. The new space will be twice as large and on ground level, with visibility. The only concerns were with leaving the Co-op in the lurch. The post office had, this source was told, inquired about the Video Store space (even though not really ideal, but was told there were other prospects.) The Post Office said it will post an address for comments (Earlene Campbell, 62 Stratford Drive, Bloomingdale, IL 60117-7000, 630-295-6241,, then report to the alderman, sign contracts et al, which may not go out to bid because it's a proximate move. The move will take up to a year and a half. Part of the space will be used by What the Traveler Saw, from the Herald building, about to undergo renovation.


Uncertain future for a key corner, southwest Harper and 53rd St. Now much better under Select management. Fine tobacco& accessories, fragrances replace alcohol. Nicer atmosphere

You've passed it a thousand times. The glazed white terra cotta- covered grocery at 53rd and Harper, long called Poullman's, re-christened a few years back "Magic Mart". It has had numerous problems with under age liquor sales, hangers-about, alleged drug sales and gang activity, and a murder. SECC opposed a new liquor license to one of the partners a few years back, and it continued to operate under a senior partner's license. Fines and short closures go back to at least 1994. Since the latest violation was within a year of the previous, the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing chose to revoke all its licenses and close it for 30 days and during any subsequent appeal (which has been filed). Businessmen and other observers noted that conditions seem to clean up at the corner when that store is closed. Top


Herald, others say too many bank branches, too little of Harper Court's mission to support needed small businesses. December 6, 13, 2006. See following a 2008 comment on yet another branch. Landlords (with rents too high for retail good?) settling for any tenants and no thought?

Herald asks, December 16 2006, Where is Harper Court's plan to continue their mission in Hyde Park? Asks again in March- now asking for the Ald. to ask state to dissolve the Foundation/Arts Council.

There is huge competition among banks for the retail business. This competition has led to a remarkable shift in store space in Hyde Park. This competition as noted in last week's Herald has resulted in seven branch banks in prime retail space in our community.

We've become short of awnings for convenience stores, restaurants, and gift shops. Seven locally-owned businesses including a popular clothing store lost their storefront spaces. One relocated in Hyde Park, but six of them left.

If anything is needed to demonstrate why Harper court could play a role in our community, this is it. Its mission was to pay attention to the needs of the community. Its original group of tenants were and continue to be good businesses. Harper Court has restaurants, services we need like the veterinarian, and businesses we wanted to attract like Artisans 21.

Commercial landlords are going to look for the best economic deal. And banks demonstrate that. But this was not the intent of Harper Court when it opened in 1965.

Where is Harper Court's plan to continue their mission in Hyde Park?

Banks saturate Hyde Park, people say

Hyde Park Herald, December 6 2006. By Nykeya Woods.

Hyde Park may cover one-and-a-half square miles, yet the neighborhood has seven bank branches. There are many more places for residents to open a bank account than there are fro them to buy a pair of jeans. With the shortage of stores, the space Washington Mutual occupies at 1364 E. 53rd ST. and where Bank of America will soon open on the corner of 53rdd Street and Blackstone Avenue leaves local business experts wondering if storefronts could have been better utilized. \

“That’s a decent-sized restaurant. That’s a decent-sized clothing store,” said Jim Poueymirou, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce president. “You could think of any number of businesses that would have wanted that space.”

In the last two years four new banks—Harris, BankFinancial, Washington Mutual and Bank of America—have moved into the neighborhood. Bank of America is replacing the DaVita Kidney Dialysis Center. Harris replaced a bicycle shop on 5he corner of 55th Street and Cornell Avenue. Five stores had to relocate out of the neighborhood so that Washington Mutual could move in.

In many cases landowners eager to fill storefronts prefer banks because they can afford to pay higher rent and sign multi-year leased compared to small and independently-owned stores, said Poueymirou, who is a mortgage finance expert. The Harris space sat vacant for many years after the bicycle shop moved out [note- relocated].

“The negative impact however is that it limits the retail stores from those spaces,” Poueymirou said. When walking down 53rd street, Poueymirou said residents have three different chances to open an account. The question is, will the community support all these banks,” Poueymirou said.

In 1982, Illinois banks were authorized to establish a branch anywhere in the county of its main establishment of no closer than one mile to another main bank. The exception to the rule was University National Bank, which preceded the law with two locations on 55th Street.

Three years late, the law changed allowing up to five branches in a county. In 1990, branching rights expanded authorizing up to 10 branches in a county, five branches in each neighboring county and five more in a non-adjacent county provided that the branch was within 10 miles of the main bank.

Commercial districts like 53rd Street may have a hard time revitalizing themselves as destination spots if banks continue moving into prime storefronts, said Irene Sherr, a planning consultant. “My concern about their impact on a commercial district has to do with the type of foot traffic they generate,” Sherr said.

Too much of any product does not work towards the economic growth of the neighborhood, Sherr said. Local and national retailers like a clothing store or furniture store would be better served by the neighborhood. “What is happening in the world of banking is creating this explosive growth, this kind of Starbucks phenomenon of branch banks everywhere you look. Hyde Park is not alone,” she said.

Ten banks, including several national chains, are located in the two square miles of Wicker Park, said Paula Barrington, Wicker Park and Bucktown Chamber of commerce executive director. “I would say that [the banking climate] is fairly aggressive. we have quite a few banks that are serving the two neighborhoods,” Barrington said.

Hyde Park Bank’s President Tim Goodsell said his bank will remain competitive. “For years and years it was basically just University National Bank and us and we liked that better,” Goodsell said. “We really think competitively and we’ll continue to have an advantage because we have substantial drive-in capability. That’s a big part of the business.”

June 18, 2008 Herald carries letter by Joseph Samuelson, "Fifth/Third Bank a waste of space" [and it's uncertain what happens to the Washington Mutual]

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.


UC says it's an active player in 53rd development; parties discuss what kind of mix and prospects for the business district.

Talking to the Maroon January 30, UC vice president Hank Webber said we are in an active period of development. President Zimmer at a town hall meeting in January said the university's goal is, in conjunction with others in the neighborhood, to promote a Hyde Park that is "safe, comfortable, and pleasant for members of the University and the community. I think everyone would like to see better commercial and retail opportunities in Hyde Park, and we share that view," he said. The Maroon noted that many residents look forward to new services and businesses by worry about displacement of local culture. Wallace Goode of the University Community Service Center said it doesn't have to be either/or but both the quaint small boutiques and one-stops especially for goods like socks that you can't have individual boutiques for.

David Baum, one of the redevelopers of the 53rd Harper Theater property, told the Maroon they think new retail options will not detract from the community's character if they are integrated artfully,--you have to have a mix, including of locals and nationals. Baum already has brought Starbuck's to 53rd and Kinko's to 57th and said he targets the area because it is under represented in retail but educated and affluent. He expects a domino effect from development.

But several local business employees say small businesses will close as new come in. This will in turn hurt our edge as we end the vibrancy of having the old and new help each other as in Harper Court. But a more recent occupant of Harper Court said chain retailers provide an opportunity to inform a new crowd about Hyde Park culture. Alderman Preckwinkle said, "Nothing ever stays the same over time. The challenge is to have a vibrant commercial strip that mixes national businesses and local chains."

Jerry Kleiner, whose restaurant next to the Checkerboard in Harper Court opens in April, said he's betting on a hunch that 53rd can be a thriving strip. "Something is needed... I like the fact that there's good opportunity in Hyde Park... I want to turn people on to a new neighborhood in their city. I feel it's time to expose the rest of the city to Hyde Park." Webber praised Kleiner's record of helping establish added restaurants in neighborhoods.


U of C solicits student input on campus retail. Chicago Maroon, March 30, 2007. By Sarah Hetherington

The University hosted a discussion on Hyde Park retail options for a group of undergraduate and graduate students Monday night. The discussion was led by Susan M. Campbell, associate vice president for community affairs, and Lisa Prasad, a business development consultant who formerly worked with the University of Pennsylvania.

Over pizza, students addressed problems they perceive with retail in Hyde Park and how retail fits into the quality of student life.

Daniel Kimerling, chair of the student government finance committee, called for improved grocery options, a request echoed by nearly every student in attendance. “The Co-op simply does not cut the mustard,” he said. Kimerling and other students said they frequent downtown grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and whole foods because of the Co-op’s high prices and lack of variety. Students without cars noted that traveling to buy groceries is inconvenient.

Many students also expressed a desire for greater access to grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues late at night, decrying the lack of food and entertainment options available after 10 p.m. Graduate students in particular complained about the difficulty of finding places to eat that are open after long days in classes and labs.

Prasad described how retail acts as “a buffer that brings people together,” especially the university community and surrounding Hyde Park. Multiple students cited Seven Ten Lanes and Bar Louie, both open late, as being successful in attracting students and members of the community.

Some students questioned why broader options do not already exist and why the Co-op has little competition other than Hyde Park Produce. Hyde Park’s perceived lack of available real estate for retail development, coupled with a student demographic with a low disposable income, does little to draw chains or even small businesses to open in Hyde Park, Prasad said.

Part of the University’s mission is to show retailers that census data about student income is actually “artificially low” and that there is, in fact, a meaningful demand for retail.

Students also described the distance between Hyde Park’s 53rd, 55th and 57th Street retail areas as inconvenient and off-putting, an issue that graduate students who live south of the Midway highlighted as particularly troublesome. Students voiced concerns that construction of the new south-campus dorm could exacerbate the lack of retail options.

Campbell said the new dorm—which will provide residence for over 700 students—currently includes plans for a small convenience store similar to Bart Mart. Some graduate students said they had never been to Bart Mart, and most students agreed that while Bart Mart’s location and hour make it a convenient option, it is both expensive and limited in its selection.

In response to Prasad’s question of whether “the library is the center of student life,” Kimerling joked that in fact, it is. Other students cited the local music scene, Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap, and Doc films as affordable and entertaining places to go, but otherwise said they found most entertainment elsewhere in Chicago.

Campbell explained the University’s retail development as a way to increase the quality of student life. This balance of “retention and attraction” helps motivate the University to continue looking into student preferences and opinions on Hyde Park retail, she said.

Theater/53rd decision rescinded but could still give a possible jump-start to redevelopment and retail renaissance. (see Theater RFP page). Here: Concerns about retail direction, treatment/degree of help during development for tenants, University connection with the squeeze and how much it's helping, and impact of high rents and city ordinances.

Herald asks, Will they stay or will they go? U. of C. plan for Harper Theater and 53rd building doesn't include tenants who are there now. [Concerns that UC biases matters against small, home-grown non-upscale business and doesn't do much for displaced.] [So far, Supreme Jewelers moved across the street to the Bank building; Noodles Etc. will move to Far East Kitchen which it owns across the street; the historic barber shop is expected to take up newly created quarters in the Piccadilly on 51st (University owned). What the Traveler saw is said to be moving to University owned Hyde Park Shopping center to share space with the post office in the former Hallmark space. Kilamanjaro is going to the Boyajian space on 53rd, although they complain its too small and has less foot traffic. U.S. Computech is moving to Harper Court. That leaves Propaganda Tee shirts.

Herald, November 22, 2006. By Erin Meyer

After the University of Chicago announced its recommended developer for the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper avenue last week, current tenants have expressed mixed emotions.

The University is recommending that Brinshore Developers and Baum Brothers LLC rehab the53rd St. building for retail and office uses and replace the 91-year-old theater with additional retail and office space. Current tenants on the property are being asked to move elsewhere.

Abdul Kareem, owner of Hyde Park Hair Salon and Barber Shop*, said he decided to look at this as an opportunity for his 400-square-foot shop to increase in size. "I don't like that we have to move, but change is inevitable, Kareem said. "The direction that the neighborhood is going through, I think that this development here is probably a necessary procedure."

[In addition to being by far the longest surviving tenant of the complex since 1926--80 years, Hyde Park Barber Shop was the first to start serving and catering to African Americans when they moved in during the 1950s and has many historic connections to, for example, the jazz and blues world, sometimes hosting live performance. Barack Obama has his hair cut there.]

Since 1926, a barbershop has been at 1464 E. 53rd st. Kareem took over as owner in 2002 and has seen 75 to 100 people come into the shop on the weekends.

Despite the change, Kareem says he wants to stay in the neighborhood but has encountered a city zoning ordinance barrier. The zoning ordinance requires new shops to be 1,000 fee from any existing hair salon, barbershop or nail salon, which makes staying in Hyde Park difficult. He would also be required to purchase a special usage permit. He recently began looking in Bronzeville.

Sister Rose Garrett, owner of Kilimanjaro International art and Design, has been looking at vacant storefronts in Bronzeville, but for a different reason. "I don't know where we are going to go because the rent is too high [in Hyde Park]," Garrett said. "I guess they don't want us here." Garrett also said that the university is overlooking the fact that she is an artist with a small store and cannot generate a lot of money for high rent.

For Shelby Li has operated his computer repair store at 1466 E. 53rrd St. The U.S. Computech owner said he has been looking along 53rd Street for vacant storefronts to ensure keep[s] his clientele. Li said the university is no longer looking out for small businesses and the community should be outraged that businesses are being pushed out. "It's not fair," Li said.

Michael Timble is saddened at the thought of moving his store, Propaganda T-shirt Printing, out of the neighborhood. With two others, one in Wicker Park and one in Lakeview, Timple said his main concern is to try to stay in the area. "I am sad that we have to leave the spot," Timple said. "And I am concerned that it will be hard to find comparable spaces in the neighborhood.

Timble, whose store has been at 1426 E. 53rd St. for three years, said that he believes the university is interested in small business. But "when you see businesses like Starbucks and others move in, you can kind of see the writing's on the wall," he said.

"The university will work with the tenants to identify options for relocation," Hank Webber, the university's vice president of Community and Government Affairs, told the Herald. ...Tenants will be required to move by June of 2007.

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


Calypso Cafe to hold out. (Some of this appears to be negotiations between two parties with strong interests at stake, but it may turn out that no really suitable space is available.)

Herald, May 20, 2009. By Kate Hawley

The University of Chicago has set a June 30 deadline to clear out the Harper Court shopping center to make way for redevelopment, but one business is refusing to budge. Carol Andresen, owner of Calypso Cafe, said she will hang on to her location at 5211 S. Harper Ave. through the end of her lease in June 2001. "After negotiations failed with the university, we decided we would stay there," she said.

the University bought Harper Court last May for $6.5 million, with an eye toward redeveloping it along with the city-owned parking lot next door. The city and the university are now in the process of vetting prospective developers through a competitive bidding process that wil wrap up by the end of the year... The university plans to demolish three of the four buildings that comprise Harper Court, including the one that houses Calypso Cafe. University officials first said they wanted to clear out the shopping center by the end of 2008. They later extended that to Jan. 31 and then to June 30.

Most of the tenants have moved out or do not have long-term leases that will allow them to stay past the deadline. The Hyde Park Animal Clinic, in Harper Court at 5210 S. Harper Ave., has a lease through June 2013, according to owner and veterinarian Tom Wake. With the university's help, he has been trying to find a new location in the neighborhood for the last eight months, he said.

Andresen was working with the university on finding a new home for Calypso Cafe, but those negotiations have apparently stalled. The university would help her move only if she chose a new location in Hyde Park, and nothing with adequate facilities and parking is available in the immediate facility, she said.

Also, she wanted more money for the relocation than the university was willing to provide. "We couldn't come to an agreement on the dollars," she said. "Moving is very expensive." University officials did not return a call seeking comment by the Herald's press time.

Andresen said the Chicago Park District approached her about moving Calypso Cafe to a building on Jackson Park Harbor, but that would "probably be unfeasible" given the deteriorated condition of the building and the costs she would incur to rehab it.

Andresen also owns the Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop, in harper Court at 5225 S. Harper ave. That restaurant will close June 7, which wil allow enough time to move its equipment adn clean up before tits lease runs out June 30. Andresen said she was frustrated that the university wouldn't let her stay open until June 230 and clean up afterward, since the space will be empty. "They're pressing me a little bit," she said. While Dixie Kitchen will close, several popular dishes -- including gumbo, jambalaya, catfish and fried green tomatoes - wil be added to the Calypso cafe menu, she said. Top

Calypso closing June 5, 2011. Herald, April 13, 2011. by Sam Cholke

Calypso Cafe, the last business operating in the Harper Court shopping center, announced last week that it would close in June. Owner Carol Andresen was unavailable for comment, but office manger Mark Miller confirmed the Caribbean restaurant would close June 5, a year before its lease expires in June 2012. Miller said the 5211 S. Harper ave. restaurant, which has also bee home to the Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop since the neighboring building was demolished, would not relocate and would close permanently. He said the Dixie Kitchen restaurants in Lansing and Evanston would remain open and the Hyde Park location was not closing because of financial difficulties.

"Business is fine and all that--- there's just an offer on the table," Miller said. He said the restaurant and the developer for the property, Harper Court Partners, quickly reached an agreement on April 1 to close. ... In an email, he said, "I can confirm that Calypso Cafe is planning to close later this spring. From a timing perspective, the closure coincides with teh beginning of construction on the Harper Court project." The University of Chicago purchased the property in 2008 and has repeatedly tried to convince Calypso to move. Negotiations stalled in 2009, and Andresen told the Herald at the time that the university was unwilling to pay for what she considered reasonable moving costs and it would only help if she agreed to relocate to another Hyde Park location.

Harper Court Partners were hired by the university in February 2010 to develop the property and Steve Kloehn, a spokesman for the university, said they agreed the developer would take over negotiations with Calypso. "Both the university and Harper Court Partners want to see the redevelopment move as quickly as possible, Kloehn said. "So we agreed collaboratively that the Harper Court Partners would speak directly with the owners of the restaurant. Kloehn said he did not know what offer had been extended to the restaurant.


Openings and closures. personal losses

We now have a sushi bar, Shinju's, 1375 E. 53rd St. He is a long-time Hyde Parker. Soon-to-open Sit Down Cafe on the other side of the street nearby will also have a sushi bar.

There is as new sushi place, Sinju'on 53rd. Sadly, its expansion has been delayed by a stop-order because they did not get the proper permits.

Dr. Wax closed its doors in early 2010, succumbing to changes in the music market and to the economy. More info is in the Feb 3 2010 Hyde Park Herald, which will later be archived there

Artisans 21 is moving to 1373 E. 53rd St. from Harper Court. This 3-decades-old artists cooperative will close May 31 and reopen June 10, 2009. Its rent at $20 a sf is considerably higher than it was in Harper Court. The say the move has reinvigorated the cooperative.

But as Dixie closes (goes to one room in Calypso) Carol Andresen says she will keep Calypso open..... despite threats the tear down the center this summer.

Chant, Hyde Park Produce, Treasure Island, Park 52 restaurant at 5201 Harper. Businesses successfully relocated from Harper Court and the Herald/Theater. Much of this with help from U of C Real Estate and Community Affairs.

A new restaurant/cafe called Sit Down is expected to open in August or September in the old spot of vibrant Hyde Park Produce on 53rd St. Proprietor is an employee of HPP, Salvatore Pappalito, who will open a table service sushi bar and cafe. It will be mid-priced with healthy options , soups, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, thin pizza - and atmosphere (open brick, track lighting, art exhibits by local artists, exposed kitchen. It may have a more upscale weekend menu and may or may not serve liquor.

MarketCafe Zaleski & Horvath, owner Tim Schau formerly of Istria fame, is open (or soon will be) at 1126 E. 47th St. It will feature regional products from vendors in Chicago, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan but also Intelligensia coffee. It's working with 45th St. Cottage Grove Bronzeville Farmers Market, including with reusable branded market bags. Expected opening is September 2008.

And Open Produce, a new regional and organic produce store is open at 1635 E. 55th St. by local folks. Partners are Andrew Cone, Lucy and Gariela Rusek. It's very bright and dedicated to total business transparency and will also feature ethnic foods and ingredients hard to find on the South Side from Chinese and Mexican to Jewish- including bagels. It will also contribute to late hours in that business strip, 11 am to 11 pm. .

A burgeoning of Jazz and Blues in restaurants in Hyde Park is changing the sense of the business district and its potential for the "late night ambiance" everyone is asking for.

Hyde Park Produce took over the space occupied until late 2006 by the Co-op's 53rd Express store. The new store has three times its present space further east on 53rd Street. Owners are Ron Thomas, Larry Amoco and Lawrence "Yoyo" Amoco. The former space will become an unusual cafe, Sit Down Cafe, operated by a former employee of Hyde Park Produce.

Opened late September 2007 is Fair Trader, at 1623 E. 55th St. Hyde Parker Betty Golomb's, Cindy Pardo and friends' new store seeks to sell clothing, jewelry and home accents at prices fair to producing artisans and farmers under good working conditions and gender equality. Grand opening will be in October.

A former employee of Art's Cycle, David Jones, has opened DJ's Bike Doctor Inc., temporarily at 1652 E. 53rd St. in Antheus-owed East Towers(? )at 53rd and Hyde Park, and soon to occupy the southwest corner store in Hyde Park Shopping Center, 1500 E. 55th St.

A new barber shop has moved into the stand-alone building in the 1600 block south side of 53rd street. Part of a barber shop renaissance in Hyde Park-- some adding shoe shiners.

Former Hyde Park Barber Shop and Hair Salon, formerly in the Herald building, has divided into the barber shop, now in the Piccadilly on Hyde Park Blvd, the Hair Salon is now at 5234 S. Blackstone.

Parker's Pets at 1342 E. 55th fills a niche in good accessories for pets and fulfills entrepreneurial dream of life-long Hyde Parker Katherine Pottenger. The benefit opening September 29 will help a shelter in Indiana, Smaller Paws. Getting backing for the business was not easy. 773 643-7387.

In June 2007 Original House of Pancakes was closed by a horrific electrical explosion. It's fed by generators while new power feeds are installed.

The Coconuts space in the 1500 block of 53rd St. was quickly filled with Apartment Finders and American Mattress.

Nancy Stanek closed Toys Et Cetera in Harper Court and on February 1 2007 will reopen in the Hyde Park Shopping Center - north half of the former Cohn and Stern. There is much more back space and an office. This does make redevelopment of Harper Ct. seem more likely and its minimal rehab unlikely.

Stanek leaves Harper Court, Relocates toy store to the Hyde Park Shopping Center

Hyde Park Herald, January 17, 2006. By Nykeya Woods

Toys Et Cetera has found a new home in the Hyde Park Shopping Center and is moving out of Harper Court by the end of the month. Nancy Stanek’s store is moving into the northern half of the former Cohn & Stern space. On Feb. 1, Stanek plans to open the doors of the 1,664-squasre-foot store, which is equipped with full basement storage. And for the first time in 30 years she will have her own office.

“We’re happy that we’re going to continue our business in Hyde Park because it was looking very very iffy,” Stanek told the Herald last week. “Our choice was to either close down the store altogether or take our operation out of Hyde Park.”

In a 2005 interview, Stanek, who had been on a month-to-month lease with the Harper Court Foundation for a long time, said she was toying with closing her store due to declining sales. Last spring Stanek joined local veterinarian Tom Wake and restaurateur Paul Andresen, both fellow tenants, to take over the ownership of the shopping center from the Harper Court Foundation [sic]. The death of Andresen last October changed that. [The Harper court Arts Council had rejected offers, also.]

Stanek said she could not wait to see what happens to Harper Court. She claimed that any developer who is interested in Harper Court would not find it feasible to maintain the structure. “Harper Court Foundation want to get out of the shopping center business,” Stanek said. “And they don’t feel that it is feasible to remain. Anyone who is looking at the economics of [Harper Court and] at the amount of money that they want for the space, there is no way anyone is going to be able to maintain this shopping center.”

Wake was equally skeptical. “Harper court is going to be torn down,” said Wake, who owns the Hyde Park Animal Clinic. “People can stall as long as they like. The physical plant is falling apart.” He added, “What we need to do is spend our energy getting the right locations for the business that are here and moving on.”

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce President Jim Poueymirou said the downside of Stanek’s move is that Harper Court is losing a major tenant. Despite that, her move should help rejuvenate the toy store. “I think it will benefit Nancy and her clientele tremendously by being [on] 55th Street,” said Poueymirou. “It’s a new space. It has a greater traffic flow; I think more people will choose to shop there.”

Stanek manages two other locations in Chicago and one in Evanston.

Sprint will move from 5200 block of Blackstone to 53rd Street, joining on 3rd nearly every phone service co.

Parker Pets (boutique) will open at the end of September in the 1400 block of 55htSt- 2nd door east from Kenwood.

Far East Kitchen is being remodeled (although a section remains open) into the new Chant., moving from the soon to be renovated Harper Theater/Herald retail building. Owner Patty Kidwell is a mainstay of the community.

Slowly the businesses in the Harper Theater are finding new homes--most recently the barber shop (Piccadilly, 1431 E. HP Blvd.) and Computech in Harper Court, What the Traveler Saw in HP Shopping Center, Kilamanjaro in former Boyajian's,... .The University is doing its best to meet the needs of those who have to make room for its project.

24 and counting--that's how the Herald described vacancies in Hyde Park at the end of 2006. 10 are in the L3 and Harper Court sites - "in transition." And just 7 are valuable spots for new retailers, as told to the Herald by SECC (South East Chicago Commission) reports. The coming of Jimmy Johns to the former Quiznos site a 1519 E. 55th St. will whittle away one. The Jerry Kleiner restaurant site at the north end of Harper Court (c5201) continues.

And now added is Coconuts Music and Videos, 1506 E. 53rd, which succumbed in December 2006 to trends in the music business and popular culture. And also Leona's Pizza in Kimbark Plaza. Most businesses in the Herald building have found new sites in Hyde Park.

In April 2005, the number of vacancies was just 10. New vacancies include ABC Cellular at 1465 E. Hyde Park Blvd. 4 vacancies in Harper Court are unlikely to to be leased until the future of the Court is resolved. Two spots in Village Center at 51st and Lake Park remain unleased--Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King. Other sites on 55th Street have unknown prospects: former Nite and Day on the south side of the street near Cornell and some of those in the Hyde Park Shopping Center. Some are being spit in two. Homemade Pizza is moving into the former Fannie May Candies. The University is cleaning up and getting ready to show to prospects Gold City Inn and Pet Spa near Harper court. Also still open are former Osco drugs, Verizon at 55th and Lake Park, and the east half of Mystique Boutique at 53rd and Hyde Park.

April 28 2007 Boyajian's Bazaar, a 25 year mainstay, closed.

At Labor Day, the University was closing in on filling the vacancies in the Hyde Park Shopping Center, (by Spring 2007 half the Cohn and Stern with Toys Et Cetera, Fannie May with Home Made Pizza, and (prospectively) Hallmark with the Post Office.) Some more vacancies seemed likely to be filled, and the 53rd Co-op space was moving toward being transitioned to Hyde Park Produce. The Co-op continued to struggle, but was negotiating to lease out several sections of the 47th store.

One of the new entries into the neighborhood is a home decor store, Style Central, opened by Marie Allan Cooper at 5309 S. Hyde Park., former home of Griffin Galleries.

End of June: Progress is reported on filling some vacancies. U of C's agents are in serous negotiation for filling the south part of the Cohn and Stern space, Hallmark, and Fannie May in the Hyde Park Shopping Center. Only 2 vacancies are left on 55th St. In September it was announced that HomeMade Pizza will fill the Fannie May space, 1546 E. 55th St. (In this business, new to HP, you take product home and finish baking it in your oven.) The business started in Lakeview and no has 7 shops including upscale suburbs.

Major vacancies at present :

Manus Dental has opened at 1646 E. 55th Street, filling half of the former Art's Cycle.

DaVita Kidney Center at 14-- 53rd has moved to more spacious quarters in Back of the Yards. Plans for the space are unknown, but offer an opportunity to return to retail. It will be an American National bank branch.

"Noon" Hookah Middle Eastern Lounge at 1617 E. 55th St. Smoke through the water cooled pipe in non-nicotine and double-filtered--$10 and up. Nearby a popcorn shop will soon open.

Istria Cafe is abandoning its plan to ad the 51st Metra station to that at 57th, the 51st being incompatible for sewer and water connection, and to concentrate on a fall opening at a bigger space in nearby Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell (also next to the BP service station).

Losses: Ken Andressen of Dixie Kitchen and Calypso. John Boyajian, former owner of Boyajian's Bazaar.

The Co-op has sold its lease on the 53rd store to Hyde Park Produce's Larry D'Amico. See Co-op page.

A newcomer on 53rd is Kimberly Stampley's Stamp'Lays Executive salon spa/boutique at 1371 E. 53rd.

Bank Financial has replaced University National, two locations here, main 1354 E. 55th St. CEO of the 16 branch south suburban bank consortium is F. Morgan Gasior. Gasior pointed out that they bring a conservative approach to help small as well as larger customers manage and grow their financial assets, stressing commercial lending and merchant processing services. He also noted the bank has the resources to carry through with the growth plans of businesses. The parent bank opened in 1924 in the south suburbs and survived the bank crash. Gasior told the Herald, "We have been in the community working and this was a great way to match up capabilities and resources. I can't say enough for the people we got there and it fits in with what we do anyway so it's been great." Local managers: Regional Senior Vice President Commercial Banking Teresa Handley (based here), Asst. Vice President an Branch Manager Gwen Teamer, Executive Vice President of Marketing Gregg T. Adams, Vice President of Commercial Banking Kenneth Sticken.

Washington Mutual Bank, 1350 E. 53rd Street. Bank of America in the 1401 block

Edible Arrangements is moving into the ABE Cellular space in 1465 E. Hyde Park Blvd.

Several of our stores have been repeatedly hit. C'est Si Bon! was robbed twice the same night at the end of August 2006. Surveillance cameras are very important.


UC President Zimmer on Hyde Park retail

Herald (in interview October 23 2006) : What plans does the university have, as landlord to many retail and commercial entities in Hyde Park, to develop the neighborhood's business district?
Zimmer: I first moved to Hyde Park in 1977; in terms of retail it is much better. It really is still not what I would say is a place with adequate retail to serve the community. It is something that needs to be addressed by the university as a major player in the community.

Kudos and business folks of note

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce selected Hyde Parker Lenora Austin as Executive Director in spring 2006. Ms. Austin was introduced at the June 6 Business to Business. Her first task will be to walk the neighborhood and learn the goals and needs of the businesspersons, including what's been changing and why, and how we can have a well-rounded community, she told the Herald. Her background, 30 years with CPS as teacher, administrator and principal, involved continual interaction with businesses and other community residents and leaders. She has been a member or active in Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Blue Gargoyle board, and little league and pony league. Chamber President James Poueymirou told the Herald, "She understands that her primary role is to actively involved in our membership. She is suited to that task" and brings a broad wealth of experience an maturity that will allow the chamber to expand. Top

Neighbor praises Yolanda Travis, local McDonald's manager

Rev. Doyle Christopher Landry of Positive Vision wrote the Herald that Yolanda Travis's McDonald's franchises thrive because she hires and trains "dynamic professionals." "Enjoying my usual coffee and pie in her 52nd Street and Lake Park Avenue location ...allowed me to observe employees Ms. Dominique and Ms. L_ney serve with speed for a consistent flow of hungry guests expecting instant miracles... Ms. Travis, please continue your excellence... Your business ownership is a Hyde Park model to emulate."

Also to be emulated is the suite of achievements of the late Rev. Dr. Alvin John Wesley, minister and owner of 2 Wesley Shoe Corals, one in Hyde Park. Born as one of 13 children born on a plantation in Louisiana, he served his country with distinction, earned divinity degrees, served several churches including as pastor. In addition to running the shoe stores, he was a stalwart of the Chamber of Commerce and other business associations.


Hyde Park's current retail mix

From South East Chicago Commission



The skinny on vacancies, early 2006--and why they take so long to fill

There actually are fewer real vacancies than it looks like in several parts of the neighborhood. On 55h, Subway will soon open remodeled under new management and the old Art's Cycle rented. Day and Nite Food finally bit the dust and is being used as Rep. Currie campaign hq.--owner MAC Properties is seeking a national chain grocer and. Verizon in the Deco Arts at Lake Park is being rented (Seattle Sutton moving from 53rd). The 53rd Kenwood storefronts are being readied for Washington Mutual. Leal will take down the 53rd Cornell vacant properties as soon as the Plan Comm. approves and permits can be had. The Burger King at 51st Village does remain a problem. Two recent departures: the new Quiznos at 55th and Lake Park, the Hallmark store and Cohn and Stern in the Hyde Park Shopping Center. But a new candy store is going in at the former Fannie May's.

Many ask why it takes so long to fill the vacancies. Part of it is recruitment and permits, part the weak in-neighborhood market (taking our money out of Hyde Park), part a sensed bias against for-profit /non community owned business, lack of a dynamic core modern store, and part that something has to be seen being build in order for things to start really rolling. The Chamber is working to ratchet things up.


"We need to be thinking about [increasing the number of businesses on] the Mid-South Side." Irene Sherr

"Everyone has a stake in a vibrant business community. We all win when new businesses open in our neighborhood, because they attract visitors who spend, they employ local residents and they provide an in-the-neighborhood convenience to local residents, keeping those dollars in the community. Retail districts such as ours are not common throughout the city's South Side, and ours stands as an enduring anchor that represents neighborhood strength and growth." Rod Sawyer

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce polled its membership as to what help and amenities businesses most need to succeed better in Hyde Park and to stem th retail loss.The Business-To-Business meetings are one place ideas are being solicited.

And it's taking on refusal of service to a person with a service dog. Educating the businesses a major undertaking. Here's how the Herald summarized Sept. 20 2006:

An important aim is to require all Hyde Park businesses to open their doors to people with disabilities. The issue arose earlier in the summer when Karen Robinson, who uses a seeing-eye dog, was denied service at Dunkin Donuts, 1411 E. 53rd st. No one deserves to be treated this way, and the Chamber of Commerce is the right agency to monitor the treatment of those who shop in our neighborhood.

Analysis of the coming Kleiner restaurant, Checkerboard and conditions for the other dining facilities in Hyde Park-Kenwood. A new role for Hyde Park?

Note, the target for the Kleiner restaurant is August 2006. The concrete buildings require lots of cuts to modernize and include what is desired. The exterior, to be done last, will include an entrance that extends out to Harper Avenue. The restaurant will seat 150.

Note 2. This structure is not in the Harper Court redevelopment rfp and is lease held by the University of Chicago until 2016.

His restaurants have revitalized other neighborhoods, and the arrival of Jerry Kleiner gives new hope to the underserved U. of C. enclave

By Phil Vettel
Tribune restaurant critic
Published September 8, 2005

Where is Chicago's next hot restaurant zone? We've already seen the Miracle on Randolph Street, West Division's dining surge, the South Loop's gradual buildup. What's next?

Would you believe ... Hyde Park?

Don't scoff. Or, go ahead and scoff. No one saw Randolph Street coming either.

But Hyde Park, a largely well-to-do neighborhood (bounded by 44th Street, 60th Street, Cottage Grove Avenue and the lake) that for years has been underserved by the restaurant community, is poised to become, within a year or three, a legitimate dining destination.

"I love that area," says restaurateur Jerry Kleiner. "There are 50,000 people here [44,700, according to the neighborhood's Web site], you've got the university and the hospital, and the city has been fixing up Lake Shore Drive. I thought this would be a good opportunity."

And so in spring 2006, Kleiner is opening a 160-seat, 4,000-square-foot restaurant in the heart of Hyde
Park. What has the dining community giddy with anticipation is the fact that Kleiner is regarded as something of a culinary pied piper. Where he goes, other restaurateurs quickly follow.

More to the point, Kleiner has a track record of launching successful restaurants in neighborhoods
others regard as "iffy."

It was Kleiner, with partners Howard Davis and Dan Krasny, who launched the Randolph Street Renaissance with the opening of Vivo. Kleiner and Davis got the fine-dining ball rolling in the South Loop by opening Gioco and Opera. And now Johnny Restaurantseed is coming to Hyde Park.

Kleiner got an attractive lease from his landlord--the University of Chicago--and a great location at 5201 S. Harper Court. Next door to the Kleiner concept--actually sharing the same address--will be The Checkerboard Lounge, a legendary blues club that is moving from its location on East 43rd Street. The
Checkerboard Lounge will have a liquor license but will not serve food.

Hank Webber, vice president of development [sic] for the University of Chicago (Hyde Park's largest employer at 12,000), was instrumental in luring Kleiner to Hyde Park. "One of our real hopes," he says, "is that this new restaurant and the Checkerboard Lounge will continue the momentum that I think has been developing over the years."

Hyde Park isn't exactly restaurant-deprived. There are many small, neighborhood-style eateries in the area, including an impressive assortment of ethnic restaurants. Storefront Korean spots, Middle Eastern
restaurants, pizzerias, coffee shops--the neighborhood has a little of everything. But Kleiner's arrival adds
legitimacy and name recognition to a neighborhood whose restaurant scene is hungry for both.

"What we've lacked, traditionally, is upper-end dining," says Webber, "although Mary is clearly an

"Mary" refers to Mary Mastricola who, with her husband, Michael, owns La Petite Folie, an upscale,
white-tablecloth French restaurant in the Hyde Park Shopping Center at 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue. It is arguably Hyde Park's sole destination restaurant.

But even La Petite Folie's name, which means "my little foolishness," is a self-deprecating jab by the
Mastricolas at their decision to locate a fine-dining restaurant here.

"I thought I knew the neighborhood better than most," Mary Mastricola says. "My husband thought we should locate somewhere else. We're trying to hang on long enough to see who was right." Though it has been a struggle, Mastricola says she's happy with her decision.

"The market share for a restaurant like ours is not enormous," Mary Mastricola says, "but the neighborhood has been incredibly supportive. And more people from outside are discovering that the neighborhood is a deal. I'm four blocks from the lake, in a shopping center with a 400-car free parking lot."

But Mastricola says she has encountered her share of obstacles, from suppliers who will only venture to Hyde Park on certain days to her inability to lure any convention trade from McCormick Place, which is only five minutes away.

"The one shocker was not being able to find kitchen employees," she says. "You can get students to work in the dining room, but we ran ads looking for kitchen workers and we had kids responding who wanted $2 an hour extra because we're south. They'd rather work in higher-visibility places."

For the small, lower-priced restaurants, it's a different story. Steve Soble, who owns Seven Ten Lanes bowling alleys... in Lincoln Park and Elmhurst, says his Hyde Park location is the biggest-grossing location of the three. "It's been great," he says. "There's definitely a captive audience here; this neighborhood is totally underserved.

"I've lived here since 1997," Soble says. "I love the neighborhood, but I wondered for years why there was no place to go to grab a drink and a burger. I talked to the owner of Pizza Capri, and he said his Hyde Park location was his best store. The Leona's people said their Hyde Park location did great. It started me thinking, `If these two are doing well . . . .'"

A year or so later Soble had his bowling alley/restaurant up and running in a parking-garage
building the university owned. "It's been a fabulous place for me."

On paper, Hyde Park looks like it can't miss. Factors in its favor include a well-heeled residential base (25 percent of households with annual income greater than $75,000) and easy access to downtown Chicago (via a picturesque stretch of Lake Shore Drive). There's also an influx of wealth arriving in the adjacent, gentrifying neighborhoods of Bronzeville and South Kenwood, and leadership that's committed to growth, including the heads of the University of Chicago and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle.

Negatives include a lack of parking, and the fact that Hyde Park's concentration of wealth is surrounded by neighborhoods with a conspicuous lack of wealth (which, as noted before, is changing) and attendant crime issues. And many of the available storefronts in Hyde Park have not been home to restaurants before; bringing such places up to code is much more expensive than converting a previous restaurant space into a new concept.

But these are issues that have been resolved in other neighborhoods, among them Lincoln Park and Wicker Park. Perhaps Hyde Park is next in line.

"The thing about pioneers," Soble says, "is that a lot of them are found dead on the trail. Restaurant people are risk-takers by nature, but they're prudent risk-takers. It's all about the margins, and where you take that marginal risk."

Which is why Soble not only is thrilled with Kleiner's arrival, but also hopes the new venture is a hit.
"When [they] become a destination area, it'll expose people to other restaurants."

With the arrival of Kleiner and Checkerboard Lounge, the hub of Hyde Park's dining scene will indisputably be Harper Court, a short stretch tucked in between Lake Park and Harper Avenues at 52nd Street, an area already home to boutiques and restaurants such as Mellow Yellow, C'est Si Bon, Calypso Cafe and Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop.

"I feel good about the space," Kleiner says. "It'll be an American-style restaurant, popular prices, but a sophisticated casual environment.

"There's a tremendous need for something like this. I think there are enough people here. Look what happened in Evanston; it's just exploding there."

As Checkerboard Lounge and Kleiner's restaurant are expected to keep later hours, they may increase pedestrian traffic in an area where most restaurants are closed by 11 p.m.

There's evidence that the market will support that. Roger Greenfield established a Bar Louie location in Hyde Park a year ago, serving food until 1 a.m. "There was some trepidation at first, but it has been amazing," Greenfield says. "We're really happy with the neighborhood and the neighborhood is happy with us."

And quite possibly its happiest days are just ahead.

- - -

Hyde Park's top dining options

Unnamed restaurant scheduled for spring opening.

CHECKERBOARD LOUNGE, 5201 S. Harper Ct.: Legendary
blues club, opening late October.

B. CALYPSO CAFE, 5211 S. Harper Ct., 773-955-0229:
Casual spot for tropical eats.

C. DIXIE KITCHEN & BAIT SHOP, 5225 S. Harper Ct.,
773-955-0229: Good Southern cooking in agreeably
cramped surroundings.

D. VALOIS RESTAURANT, 1518 E. 53d St., 773-667-0647: A
cafeteria-service spot where you have to try in order
to spend $10.

E. MELLOW YELLOW, 1508 E. 53d St., 773-667-2000:
Breakfast-all-day spot specializing in crepes
(breakfast and dinner types).

F. PIZZA CAPRI, 1501 E. 53rd St., 773-324-7777:
Gourmet pizza.

G. CEDARS OF LEBANON, 1206 E. 53d St., 773-324-6227:
Attractive Middle-Eastern spot with wonderful aromas.

55th St., 773-347-2695: Bowling alley and pool hall
with pub grub.

I. LA PETITE FOLIE, 1504 E. 55th St., 773-493-1394:
The neighborhood's fine-dining jewel.

J. BAR LOUIE, 5500 South Shore Drive, 773-363-5300:
Neighborhood-feel pub that serves late.

K. PICCOLO MONDO, 1642 E. 56th St., 773-643-1106: Cute
Italian with lotsa pasta.

L. MEDICI ON 57TH, 1327 E. 57th St., 773-667-7394:
Campus hangout that dates back to 1955, good for
burgers and pizza.

-- Phil Vettel*

This editor would add Snail from the 15-1600 blocks on 55th: Kikuya (Japanese), Cafe Korea, Nile, Snail, 55th Thai, and Orlys.


A 2004 summary

Hyde Park Herald, December 29, 2004. By Nykeya Woods

In Just 12 months, Hyde Park gained three coffee houses, a relocate fast food restaurant, an art gallery and a blues club. But the encouraging news is overshadowed by the announcement that one of the area's larges t grocery stores will close by the end of January.

Co-op Markets announced plans in October to close its five-year-old store at 1300 E. 47th St. due to an overwhelming $10 million financial drain. The chain has been mired in debt and losses since opening the store in 1999 and has been a drag on Co-op's other two Hyde Park stores on 53rd and 55th Streets. In the two months before the announcement was made, the store had lost nearly $300,000. "It's sad. These are economically hostile times," said Co-op Board President Claudia Fegan.

At the end of 2004, it is still unclear what will happen to the 42,000-square-foot storefront at Lake Park Pointe shopping center. The Co-op commissioned suburban Glencoe-based Realtor Laurie Goodfriend to find a replacement tenant. So far none has been found. Goodfriend is looking for any type of retailer to fill the majority of the space which anchors the shopping center near the corner of 47th Street and Lake Park Avenue, she said.

As for the two remaining stores, 1526 E. 55ht st. and 1226 E. 53rd St., officials said they will focus in 2005 on boosting services there. The Co-90 has no plans to file for bankruptcy in the coming year.

Co-op Markets is not the only business having difficulty filling Hyde Park storefront vacancies. Since acquiring the Meridian Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave., in 2002, the University of Chicago has unsuccessfully contacted dozens of theater companies about reopening the movie house. The shuttered four-screen theater remains vacant and to this day there are no plans to reopen it. The idea of reopening seems bleak. Estimated renovation costs for the theater and its attachment, which houses the Herald, 5240 S. Harper Ave. and other businesses at 1453-66 E. 53rd St., is $8 to $10 million.

Discouragement over these two giants, however, has not turned businesses away. Hyde Park saw an influx of new developments, including the announcements of new java joints in the Metra stations and the reopening of the old Jacobs Brothers Bagels, 1301 E. 53rd St. as Third World Cafe. Istria Cafe will open two coffee shops in 2005 at the 51st Street and 57th Street Metra stations. Both Istria and Third World will serve premium coffee and have wireless internet access.

In March, BP Connect opened its pumps at 5130 S. Lake Park Ave. after five months of construction, equipped with a new car wash and yet another coffee shop, Wild Bean Cafe. The gas station and a new McDonald's to the south are vital to the redevelopment of Lake Park Avenue, which wrapped up this year with the opening of new Metra stations at 51st and 57th Streets. See more in Development.

A highly anticipated addition to Hyde Park was the Checkerboard Lounge. After several protests, owner L.C. Thurman sighed a lease with the University of Chicago, cementing plans to move the legendary blues club out of its 31-year-old home in Bronzeville. Construction is underway in early 2005 in the former Women's Workout World, 5201 S. Harper Ave., officials said.

Hyde Park lost a few businesses to other neighborhoods. Laws Concept Salon move to Bronzeville; Caring Close, a social service agency where people donate clothing and furniture, moved to South Shore and the family that owned Thai Twee restaurant moved to New Jersey. Other businesses that closed included GW Opticians, 1519 E. 55th St., and Ex-Libris Theological Books, 1340 E. 55th Street.

While the Hyde Park Art Center continued this year plans to renovate its new home near Cornell Avenue and 51st street, Hyde Parker Robert Bassett opened the 700-square-foot Griffin Gallery, 5309 S. Hyde Park Blvd., [the building presently housing the HP Art Center], which features artwork from the gallery's namesake, Gerald Griffin.

As there are still vacancies, particularly along 53rd Street, filling those storefront [including between Metra and Cornell] may pose the greatest challenge in 2005. But if a major retailer, restaurant or entertainment spot is ever to succeed in Hyde Park, concerns over parking remain imminent.

[Opening of new Quiznos and Subways was balanced by conversion of retail spaces to church and religious order uses on 53rd and 55th.]


A business tragedy- Cohn and Stern to close after more than 5 decades doing business in Hyde Park. The famed and well-run clothing store is a victim of shopping patterns, including the Hyde Parkers who, like so many, bargain hunt all over and shop less and less locally--at least unless gas gets too high? Also cited were changing fashions and the chains. Cohn and Stern chose to stay during Urban Renewal and were virtually the only business that got into tony Hyde Park Shopping Center. The say the University and the Shopping Center (owned by the University) have been most supportive through the years. Mr. Cohn (Mr. Stern having retired and passed away many years ago) has in turn been a major community donor and booster.

Cohn told the Herald the problems are much larger than his situation as the single mid-high-end men's store in Hyde Park. "Our industry is in big trouble. It is much harder for us to compete in today's marketplace than it was eight years ago." What's gone includes the one-on-one service tradition and certainly the family-owned and known tradition, of which there were five in Hyde Park in the 1950s. In fact, in 1975 there were still 16,000 locally-owned men's stores in the country; now less than 3,500. "Many shop way high end or low end. Those of us caught in the middle are squeezed." And fewer men dress up even for work or worship or dates. Cohn thinks that younger shoppers especially are missing a special social and shopping experience: "They don't realize what a wonderful experience can be had in a quality store."

The Cohn's have had offers to move the store out the neighborhood but chose to stay. But Hyde Parkers are also in part responsible, Cohn said. "I've not had the greatest support among Hyde Parkers who can afford to shop here," he said. "Many can and don't."

Cohn also opines that Hyde Park doesn't have enough retail synergy and heft: There are not enough of us good stores to keep people shopping here. People want to go where they can get everything done."

Businessman Hans Morsbach laments the loss of Cohn and Stern, Anderson Ace, Mr. G's, maybe the Co -op.. to new trends and decline of community support and pride. He thinks the chains that increasingly predominate don't care about or support the community, and that even the banks don't do much or their officers live he re.... He praises the few who thrive or hold their own, including immigrant entrepreneurs.


Seminary Co-op Bookstores is still struggling to regain customers lost to chain bookstores. Top. Hannah Hayes has a nice column in the December 7 Herald on the value of our bookstores in a fast-changing and homogenizing world. We have time to reflect on what life would be like if the stores left and became just a nostalgic memory.

But Ribs N Bibs is finally back. O'Gara's bookstore on 57th is moving to Indiana.

Harper Court possible sale is a big story--visit the Harper Court Sale page.

Harper Court Foundation denied in December that the shopping center at 52rd and Harper has been sold but confirmed that the board has been considering sale and has had conversations with potential buyers. The University of Chicago says flatly it is not interested in such a purchase. The Center was transferred in the Foundation in December to its subsidiary Harper Court Arts Council.

According to Herald sources, a letter of intent to buy Harper court has been signed in early December by JDI Realty LLC. If so, whether a sale will in fact take place (to outside the neighborhood) and whether the specialized shopping center will now become a subject of redevelopment is unknown. Some businesses are now hastening departure. Top

History of HCt and reactions to likely sale: see the Harper Court Story page.

Hans Morsbach places Harper Court in HP retail reality and vitality context (other ideas see Harper Court Sale page.)

We all know Harper Court is not an unmitigated success, but the proposed plans for redevelopment will almost certainly turn into a bigger boondoggle.

The backers of the new plan propose that the remedy for Harper Court's malaise is to establish more retail space while replacing the existing surface lot with a larger parking space. This is sheer folly. Such a solution fundamentally misunderstands Hyde Park's retail problems and will likely kill several of Harper Court's going concerns if it is implemented.

Anybody who's lived in the neighborhood for more than a few years will not have failed to notice the increase of retail vacancies. Hyde Park is losing its interesting shopping venues. Neighborhood residents seem less and less interested in patronizing local businesses. Old time stores are closing. Good merchants are closing up shop as Hyde Parkers shift their loyalties to stores outside the neighborhood.

The community cannot even maintain decent supermarket. The Co-op, once a symbol of Hyde Park independence, is in a death spiral and will probably be supplanted by a chain. So what are the chances for the vaunted plan to make Harper Court a flashy center of new retail commerce?

The best we can hope for is that whatever replaces the Co-op-- perhaps a Whole Foods store-- will induce shoppers to linger and shop other stores in the Co-op shopping center. It is doubtful that such shopping enthusiasm will spill over the 53rd Street or Harper Court.

Can we assume, as the backers of redevelopment do that a redone Harper Court, larger and more expensive, will somehow do a better job than the current incarnation? What effect would the development have on the congestion in the area or on the viability of the businesses that are now thriving there? I seriously doubt that the veterinarian, the restaurants and other establishments will be better served by new and presumably more expensive retail space. More importantly, I doubt that these businesses will find it easy to survive the disruption the redevelopment project imposes on them. The cost of moving a restaurant is immense, and it is not fair to expect existing restaurants to pay it.

So if, as I believe, redevelopment is a bad idea, what is to be done with Harper Court? First, we need to recognize that the management of Harper Court has been flawed from the very beginning. The problem is not that Harper Court has outlived its usefulness- it never really lived up to its mission in the first place. It was supposed to be a place for the artisans displaced when the city and the University of Chicago decided to raze the Arcades on 57th Street back in the heyday of Urban Renewal. The artisans never arrived, and the many credible merchants faded away.

These days the management of Harper court is made up of earnest citizens who try to do what's best for the neighborhood. And, indeed, they are more competent than many past management regimes. Yet their determination to demolish the court is not sound. They dangle the prospect of dispensing the proceeds of selling out (which should net some $6 million and which must be distributed to local cultural organizations). We should not take the bait. Hyde Park is not lacking in funds; it is lacking in vitality.

By way of contrast, I would like to hold up the example of a small quasi-cultural center at 61st Street and Blackstone Avenue known as the Experimental Station. It is located next to the power plant, a block south of the University Press building. Twenty years ago it was the home of the Hyde Park Recycling Center. The Experimental Station is run by Dan Peterman, an artist, and his wife, Connie Spreen. The building is in a state of reconstruction, having been all but destroyed by a fire in the Big Fish Furniture shop exactly five years ago. Even as Dan and Connie struggled to save and rebuild the building, the building has been the center of a very interesting collection of people. Folks at the Experimental Station organized a large and thriving community garden, an many of its community were central to the campaign to save Promontory Point.


Laurel Stradford of What the Traveler Saw weighs in, June 2006 in context of Harper Court Art Market fairs.

"I think there's lots of opportunity to grow businesses, not just mine, but other businesses in the community," said Stradford, who used to work as a photographer and collagist. "I thought it also is a good time to bring people together from the neighborhood onto 53rd Street so they become more aware of what is offered here. I've been here almost three years and a lot of people don't even know I'm here and I'm sure that's true of other businesses."

According to McKenzie, the event will try to emulate the atmosphere of a European market. Musician Ray Silkman will provide soft jazz and local businesses invited to participate as well.

Markets are also scheduled for July, August and September, and if they are successful, Stradford and McKenzie hope to hold more next year. They also have plans for a Taste of Hyde Park, which would feature local restaurants. "It's a viable community outside of 53rd that could really support us and with more support I think there would be more interest in providing opportunity for retailers who can supply what the community needs." Stradford said. "Right now we don't have everything. It's gotten kind of slim pickings around here."

From Laurel's letter on the Arts Market, Herald, June 28

It is with great enthusiasm that we are preparing for the first Art Market in Harper Court this coming weekend, July 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to dusk. As a retailer who learned the business from my mother at Plus in Harper Court in the 60s, (where Dr. Wax is now) I'm so happy to know that we will bring neighbors and customers back to what was such a wonderful place to do business.

We anticipate a wonderful turn out of neighbors and community support. I know there are some perceived problems with the retail experience in Hyde Park and I am eagerly anticipating a summer of such community events to generate new energy into one of the greatest neighborhoods in the country.

We all love Hyde Park but I think there are plenty of Hyde Parkers who don't know the value of the retailers on 53rd Street. Here's a chance to remind them. Our upcoming shows will be the weekends of July 22 and 23, Aug. 19 and 20 and Sept. 9 and 10, from 10 a.m. to dusk. For more vendor information, please contact Carl McKenzie of Artworks Chicago at 312 320-0846 or Laurel Stradford at What the Traveler Saw at 773 955-5055.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) for her support as well as the Harper Court Foundation, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the Hyde Park Herald. And to our community: Please come out and spend the day with us. There will be food, entertainment, friends and neighbors. It will be fun from the whole family.



An indicator of trouble in our business corridors, particularly Harper Court, are closure of Nancy Stanek's Toys Et Cetera and closure of Akente Express II, as well as Copyworks and possibly others in Harper Court. While the closure of Akente is largely due to health and finance issues of the owner, both indicated that there is not sufficient traffic and sales to sustain business and retain small businesses , especially in the Court, but in Hyde Park in general--that we may be losing the war. Stanek said her Lincoln Park store makes three time the money as the Hyde Park site; people come from all over because there are so many other shops to visit in a short distance in Lincoln Park. On the other hand, Sue Freehling of Freehling Pot and Pan Co., on busier 53rd, says her business is doing well and will stay put.

Stanek was quoted in the Herald in December: "I think independent retail business in Hyde Park is lousy to atrocious. I think that we have lost so many businesses that we don't have enough of a retail mix to keep our shoppers shopping here." Of HP shoppers she said, " If they want the independent businesses they need to support them. The one thing that is remarkable about Evanston is that ...people go out of their way to shop at small shops and they feel great pride in the fact that they have many excellent independents. I wish I could say the same for Hyde Parkers.." Freehling agreed and added that the business community could be more proactive. And some say the service in many stores is lousy

Also closed: Subways on 55th (later replaced) and now several businesses again in the 1600 block of 55th.

Street-level storefronts in HP: 189 are independents and 45 nationals (17 franchises). Top


Harper Theater/Herald Building- moving from a theater option to a mixed retail-social-residential development option. Full story in Theater RFP page. Hank Webber told the November 14 2005 TIF Council meeting that efforts to redevelop the complex as a theater operation have reached a dead end. The objectives of a new development, to be be done by a developer, not the University, are first to maintain retail on the 53rd facade and the character and scale of that corner, and second to create a retail-residential mixed development that would add to the community: "We want a project there that contributes 18 hours a day, seven days a week to life on the street that represents a gathering place for the university community, the Hyde Park Community as well as the South Side."

At the January 2005 TIF meeting, Hank Webber gave a power point presentation on general guidelines for the request for proposals. Those guidelines are up in for comment and suggestions until January 30 (links given in the website).

What the Herald said Nov. 23 2005

Just nine years shy of its 100th anniversary, the Harper Theater's fate has been sealed; 5238 S. Harper ave. will probably never reopen as a movie theater. In its ongoing exploration of uses for the northwest corner of Harper Avenue an 53rd street, the University of Chicago, the property's owner, decided last week to stop pursuing a movie theater for the site. On Nov. 14, the ...TIF Council listened as Hank Webber reiterated an old explanation regarding the state of the movie theater industry. The university's vice president for community an governmental affairs said rehabbing a historic movie house is not economically viable in an age of multiplexes. And the money needed to renovate the building--at least $9 million--could probably build a new theater from scratch and then some.

The TIF Council and the community have heard this before, which made last week's decision anti-climactic. The inevitable caught up with reality. Many have already come to terms with a Hyde Park without its Harper Theater. The South Side has seen the demise of dozens of neighborhood theaters. Hyde Park used to be home to three of them: the Piccadilly, the Hyde Park and the Harper.

Eventually the last one would give way to a neighborhood ripe for new development. But given that Hyde Park has championed more preservation efforts than most neighborhoods in the city, the apathy over saving the Vaudeville theater on Harper is perplexing.

Work on the theaters and the adjacent building (5240-44 S. Harper and 1425-64 E. 53rd St. finished in 1914 under Chicago based architect Horatio R. Wilson. Architect Z.E. Smith is also credited in some accounts. The theater first belonged to the Schoenstadt chain and hosted live theater, music and films. Its operation changed hands multiple times before it finally closed in spring 2002. The last owners, Alicia and Donzell Starks, blamed the TIF council's delay in building a neighborhood parking structure as well as competition in the theater industry for closing the Harper (known as the "Meridian" under t he Starks.

Since 2002, public debate regarding the fate of the historic movie house has centered around a handful of meetings led by Webber to gauge community interest. The result: the Harper Theater is no Promontory Point. In fact, it has been argued that the more significant and salvageable of the structures on the property is the 53rd Street frontage. Three of the four corners of 53rd street an Harper--downtown Hyde Park--still boast their original buildings, each with its own architectural face. Any public discussion over uses for the northwest corner must take this building into consideration, with or without the shuttered movie house. Let's begin by placing the 53rd Street building on the Chicago Historic Resources Survey "orange" list of significant structures. The theater is listed. for whatever reason the the corner building is listed under a category of lesser importance.

The Herald is grateful that the University of Chicago, whose forte isn't urban planning, has taken its time in an attempt to find a historic movie theater operator. But its decision to end the search is overdue. Nostalgia aside, public opinion shows that many would like to see a movie theater in Hyde Park, but not necessarily the Harper.

Let's encourage the city to convert its ugly parking lot on Lake Park Avenue into a theater and retail complex with a wrap around parking deck. Wouldn't that complement the newly-opened Checkerboard Lounge? Even a unique community like Hyde Park can stand to borrow an idea or two from elsewhere, like Evanston.

The University has had enough time to ponder uses for this property. It is not a good practice for a developer to buy a large parcel of land and sit on it for too long. we have sen t ht with the 1600 block of East 53rd Street, where there is now a plan to erect a 17 story high rise after years of failed promises.

The university bought the theater and the Herald Building in 2002. As we roll into 2006, there is still no project in the works. Will it be "wait and see" for the next few years?



Seminary Co-op Bookstores are planning more events and other means to fight back at loss of sales to Borders and other large scale booksellers. Powell's is better position to take advantage of internet sales (c20%), in conjunction with Amazon. Both stress service and ability to get specialty merchandise quickly.

Highly disturbing is Hyde Park Cooperative Society' closing its 47th Street store. For discussion of the issues and what might come next, see the Co-op page. HPKCC sent a letter of concern hoping both the best for the Co-op and for speedy retail re-occupancy of the 47th St. store. One gets a 'tale of two cities'--it's either turning a corner or spinning and withering on the vine. It looks more like the 53rd St. store will be sold.

Among positive news is the Checkerboard Lounge, open, and a new restaurant soon to come to Harper Court (to latest news).

On the other hand, steeply increasing tax assessments and landlord demands for rent increases (the two not always connected) have led several businesses lately to shut down or relocate out of Hyde Park. Our lead articles pose a contrast between a "breakout" new business area-Lake Park-and concern at lack of action on in an older strip, 53rd and Harper Court, including vacancies in property owned by the University of Chicago (a relationship challenged in the following article. Still, many sites hang on or come in--Hyde Parker Alison Alexander is buying and will continue with updates Boyajian's Bazaar. Rob Jackson, a Hyde Parker and regional marketer for McDonald's is quoted as saying "I have lived [in Hyde Park] for over 20 years, and I have wondered why there aren't more businesses in Hyde Park like [what] they have on the North Side and in Lincoln Park." Social and crime problems along 53rd is one of the reasons.


Map of the Hyde Park and Kenwood business districts. (Does not include areas around including the new Cottage and Stony Island strips/TIFs or the new Borders at 53rd- Lake Park. As of March, 2000, "A Vision for Hyde Park Retail District," Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Hyde Park and Kenwood business districts as of 2000, A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District, Skidmore, Owins & Merrill


Quad Cities/ Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission bring Full circle Mapping Project to business arteries from 35th to 55th (most of the 4th Ward)

Interns are busily jotting down basic information about each business locations, such as facade condition, illicit activity, landscaping, parking lot size, land use, type of commercial activity on 35, 39th, 43rd, 45th, 51st, 53rd and 55th Streets and Oakwood Boulevard. Quad Cities Development Corporation (mid-south) and LISC (city wide) have been doing joint business study and community plan development for most of the neighborhoods on the mid South Side. Quad Cities or QCDC especially targets Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Oakland and Douglas. The first phase focus was commercial needs the communities through MetroEdge study. Now Full Circle project will offer a detailed inventory of the commercial area, to benefit developers, residents, even police.

With the Full Circle map, one can find out, for example, whether, where and how many liquor stores are close to nodes of illegal activity or where mixed-use buildings are concentrated, say in relation to transportation and parking. It's already been noted that there is much mixed use in Hyde Park and it "works". The age and assessed value of building are already in the map. Another aim is to monitor development and other changes in real time. Also, information is going to the police and Streets and Sanitation on illicit activity and trash problem areas.

Another aim is to see how commercial areas such as Cottage Grove and our 53rd st. can complement rather than compete with each other.

Block surveys will be followed by interviews. Eventually, businesses and developers will be able to look up and assess vacant locations. The director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce would like to have the 57th St. corridor also so surveyed so a complete picture of Hyde Park-Kenwood can be studied.

Quad Cities was formed by Ald. Preckwinkle (4th) in 2003 to spur development and draws on a $12.5 Mac Arthur Foundation grant.

Disappointing conclusions about the South Side business mix? Some plusses also.

Warning--the following editorializes upon an 'editorialing' Herald article.
The service area studied has about 125,000 residents and was divided for study purposes at Cottage Grove, the Study, presented to the 43rd Street/Cottage Grove TIF Advisory Council (described in this page). Of 294 businesses recorded, 20 percent are healthcare related. (It's good we have them, but where are the other businesses, people ask.) All other subsets are at least sort of balanced across a large spectrum, but some go hmmm at the second largest group being beauty salons and products, 7.5%--but its actual numbers don't seem that large. Non-chain eateries and drinking make up a healthy and not excessive 6.5% depending on how the proportion of this is bars. Clothing stores come in at a meager 2.5 percent, several of those being in clothing-depleted Hyde Park. Banks are 2.2 percent--very low but rising, especially in Hyde Park and adjacent. Convenience stores are 1.6, which seems surprisingly low. And there are just 5 laundries (a dying business), five office supply (rising, but this is now a big-box business), three furniture stores (long a low-margin high inventory business), and no full-service grocery stores, although there are two near the service area.

Especially disturbing is that 80% of businesses serving the area are outside it, mostly in Hyde Park-Kenwood? The restaurant category, 104 serving the area, is one that is unbalanced, the study says. 15% is fried or barbecue food and 14 sandwich, 12 deli-salad. But where is the rest--its not American, Mexican or Mediterranean (one of each, outside the area--fitting the conclusion of even Hyde Park restaurateurs that even Hyde Park is underserved.) One or 2 full grocery stores should be a target also, the study concluded.

Mid-South vacancies are 12% vs. 2% in Hyde Park. One bit of good news (according to SECC's Bob Mason) is that 94% are independents, who bring community support and participation as well as stability. But where are the chains? Just 17 stores of 255 street-levels.



Chamber issues Business Security Guidelines in response to business difficulties

PH: 773-288-0124 FAX:773-288-0464

Education and Networking

Below are guidelines the business community has decided to employ. These ideas were discussed in our Business to Business sessions, held on three Thursdays, April 21, May 5 and May 19.

1. Have a consistent, no tolerance policy. Should there be any trouble or threat in a business the owner/employee will call 911 and then the university police at 702-8181. No one will be forcibly restrained by the owner/employee. A complaint will be signed by the owner/employee of the business against the offender.

2. Signs limiting the number of people in a store at any given time can be posted on the door of the establishment; however, the Chamber of Commerce does not condone their use, and strongly suggests other methods be employed.

3. Business owners are free to conduct their business and admit customers in a lawful, non-discriminatory manner.

4. The Chamber of Commerce will look into bulk discounts, as a Chamber Member Benefit, for security cameras in the businesses. This avenue was recommended by the Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago Police.

5. The Chamber of Commerce will look into bulk discounts, as a Chamber Member Benefit, for security systems in the businesses.

6. The Chamber of Commerce will work with Kenwood Academy on internships, desired unanimously, by the business owners, as soon as this summer.

7. Have a zero tolerance policy for panhandlers. Panhandlers who actively panhandle in front of stores will be reported to the police by dialing 911 and a complaint will be signed by the owner/employee of the business.

The Chamber of Commerce has been proud to help our business community with the recent challenges in our community. We look forward to presenting Business to Business meetings throughout the summer, fall and winter to deal with issues such as counterfeit money, scams in the area and ways to protect ourselves and our customers during the holiday. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated on topics of concern.


HP Chamber minds business: re-initiates effort to rationalize business, seek new businesses

Hyde Park Herald, February 2, 2005. By Nykeya Woods

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce recently announced its newest plan to help attract businesses to the area with the assembly of a business search committee. Still in the developing stages, the four-member committee has laid preliminary goals that include educating members about business needs and opportunities, networking with landlords, brokers, retailers, clients in the community and identifying opportunities for attracting businesses to Hyde Park, Executive Director Cheryl Heads said.

"As far as I know...I am not sure if we have had anything like this before in the past." Heads said. This may be the first time the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce has set up its own business search committee, but it i not the first time it has been involved with trying to attract businesses to the area.

At its February 9 2006 morning meeting, concerns including lack of connection and business services across the entire spectrum from biggest to home-based businesses, owners and renters. Chamber president Jim Poueymirou says we are in transition, with some businesses thriving and others struggling. The Chamber wants to help!

A 2004 survey taken at the annual Hyde Park Chamber dinner concluded that the members are interested in attracting certain businesses to the area. At the top of the list was a clothing store like GAP, Old Navy or Marshall's.

In 2000, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) the Hyde Park Chamber, the University of Chicago, the city Department of Planning and Development and the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) created a vision to rehabilitate retail in the Hyde Park commercial district with help from market analysts, planners and urban designers.

SECC Executive Director Bob Mason said so far he is happy with the additional businesses that moved into the area. Several new retailers include What the Traveler Saw on 53rd Street, Kiddie Cuts in Kimbark Plaza and Harris on the corner of 55ht Street and Cornell Avenue.

The Hyde Park retail district includes portions of 57th Street, 55th Street, 53rd Street, 51st Street and Lake Park Avenue. Also included are the Metra stops at 51st, 55th and 57th Streets.

"[Renovation of the Hyde Park retail district] was not meant be done in a couple of years," Mason said. "That would be totally unrealistic."

Irene Sherr of Community Counsel added another perspective. She said it is very hard to attract businesses to the area. "The GAP was the holy grail," Mason said about the retail Store. University of Chicago's Vice President of Community Affairs Hank Webber weighed in on why three-and-a-half years ago GAP or Old Navy was never able to open a store in the neighborhood. He said there were several challenges experience when trying to lure the clothing giant. GAP would have required 7000 square-feet in retail space. Other than the Hyde Park Theater building, the university did not own a large enough space and the neighborhood offers very little parking space. Old Navy stores wanted even more space. "I think that it would have been good to have GAP and Old Navy in the neighborhood," he said.

"We are making some progress [with a variety of businesses in the neighborhood]. But clothing is an area where we could use more," Webber said.

The chamber of commerce survey also concluded that more restaurants and grocery stores are wanted in the area.

"The next step [in the Hyde Park retail district] is very necessary as far as I am concerned," Mason said. "The viaduct [needs work done]."

One of the visions for the retail district was to create a long-term parking strategy. As of yet, there has been no solution. "We are still working on it," Mason said. "It's not going to happen in the next year. It's a 23 [year] TIF but that doesn't mean that we want to wait 13 years."


The Feb. 2, 2005 Herald asked: What businesses does HP need? A few responses.....

TIF revives Parking Committee as garage is stalled, to rethink the question, public involvement invited

Visit the Parking page.
Linking a new garage at Lake Park and an addition to Canter Middle School via bonds is apparently unlikely now, so the 53rd TIF Advisory Council's Parking Committee, headed by Jo Reizner of UC Real Estate Operations, has been commissioned to find new, creative solutions to the vexing 53rd parking problem--a problem that weakens prospects for new businesses and nightlife including the prospective Checkerboard Lounge and Jerry Kleiner Harper Grill.

Such concerns were voiced, for example, at the the March AC meeting. Chairman Howard Males is quoted by the Herald as saying, " We need to address potential parking issues that may occur given the [city's Lake Park/53rd] current size and utilization [that includes 15-minute parking meters]...the challenge for the committee and this council is to look at parking in more creative ways." Alderman Preckwinkle is quoted a saying that this summer various meetings will focus on what is happening at 53rd and Harper and other places along 53rd.

Males told the Herald that the committee will look at solutions that are not necessarily about a garage, since, whether yes or no, that can't be built in a day. He suggested looking at existing lots sharing users different times of day.


A new Main Street? Lake Park Avenue attracts business

McDonald's and BP Connect at 52nd and Lake Park: vanguard of a new Lake Park business district?

BP Connect. Gary Osssewaarde McDonald's at 52nd and Lake Park
McDonald's at 53rd and Lake Park  


Hyde Park Herald, October 23, 2004. by Nykeya Woods

For business managers like Barry Monroe, the evolution of Lake Park Avenue has come as somewhat of a miracle. He has been manager of Village Foods, 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd., for more than 20 years. And in that time, the new business district along Lake Park Avenue has seen the addition of BP Connect, Borders Books Music & Cafe, Hollywood Video, and McDonald's, as well as a major upgrade of ...Metra train stations....

Monroe can't complain. Village Foods, nestled in the corner of Village Center, is profiting from the area's facelift. "The general appearance is getting better," Monroe said. With the addition of BP Connect, the area has take on a different look that has drawn more people to the are in recent years," he added.

Hyde Park resident Irene Sherr, a former urban planner and community development consultant with the South East Chicago Commission, said the older McDonald's, previously located on 53rd Street near Kimbark Avenue, was obsolete and cramped. There was a desperate need for a drive-thru but no room for it. "If there is a drive-thru in Hyde Park, Lake Park [Avenue] is the only place for it," Sherr said. Lake Park Avenue runs north and south from 27th to s57th Streets. McDonald's, 5200 S. Lake Park Ave., opened in late September with a drive-thru.

Hyde Park resident and regional marketing director for McDonald's Rob Jackson said that the addition of McDonald's to Lake Park Avenue was a viable enhancement. "I have lived [in Hyde Park] for over 20 years, and I have wondered why there aren't more businesses in Hyde Park like [what] they have on the North Side and in Lincoln Park," Jackson said.

While the resurgence of the businesses along Lake Park Avenue is credited in part to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), she referred her comments to Tax Increment Finance District Chairman Howard Males.

Males said he is absolutely delighted to have McDonald's and BP Connect in the neighborhood. He said the design of both businesses are superb and refreshing. For the past three years, officials from McDonald's, Borders and BP Connect were involved in regular TIF meetings.

BP Connect, 5130 S. Lake Park Ave., has been a manor surprise for Sherr. People really enjoy going there not just for gas but because of Wild Bean Cafe, she added. "It's a real convenience," said Sherr


The new Istria coffee shops in Metra stations, to open early in 2005, will further strengthen the Lake Park corridor. Hyde Parker-owner Tim Schau is targeting commuters and students who need internet access.


What Metro Edge and LISC are up to on the neighborhood edge

Although Hyde Park had a Retail Study and overall Planning Now Retail District Study produced in 1999, that's six years ago. All the other neighborhoods around ours are having marketing studies and full-scale Quality of Life Plans done, but not Hyde Park.

From the TIF Advisory Council January 2005 minutes:

Metro Edge Study presented by Chinwe Onyeagoro, Project Consultant to Quad Cities Development Corporation: Ms. Onyeagoro presented results of a Metro Edge study for the Cottage Grove Trade Area that found the area above city averages in buying power, growth potential, and retail opportunity. Also noted were the new residents, the number of home purchases, and a decrease in violent crime. Next steps are to present these findings to city staff, neighborhood planning groups, existing businesses, and local stakeholders; to engage Skidmore in developing a master plan; to establish a 43rd & Cottage TIF; to develop a marketing plan for the Quad community; and to begin meetings with brokers, developers and retailers.

Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)" presentation by Suzanna Vasquez, Program Director, New Communities Program of LISC: Ms. Vasquez gave a brief history of LISC's ten year commitment to 16 neighborhoods in Chicago, raising capital for grants and loans for development. The concentration for the past five years has been on comprehensive community development. to that end a Mac Arthur grant provided LISC with funds for personnel and grant money for neighborhoods devising a "Quality of Life Plan." Examples of grants include a U. of C./LISC beautification initiative; principal professional development for Quad Communities schools in July of 2004; and a market study by Metro Edge to help draw retail to the Quad Communities. Other local neighborhoods working on a Quality of Life Plan include Woodlawn, Washington Park, and St. Edmonds. Ms. Vasquez noted that partnerships are being fostered, including one between Quad Cities and the Abraham Lincoln Center to work on employment.


Following is series of diverse expressions by residents on Hyde Park business climate and on "retail vision."

The discussion hasn't changed much over 3 years. If anything, the positions have gotten harder since the Harper Court and Theater controversies. In the February 21 and 28 Herald, Richard Braun and Sam Peltzman (UC GS of Business) argue that the patterns have set irreversibly-- Hyde Parkers will shop outside the neighborhood (esp. the North Side), retail in nearby neighborhoods will grow as the neighborhoods infill and gentrify, and that it is useless to try to make HP a retail destination. So, we have three positions: 1) What we have left is what we should strive to keep- plus incubating some local small business; 2) gung ho for turning things around including with major developments that include national chains; 3) give up and stop wasting resources on the issue.

HPKCC will host a forum on these choices sand what local retail options are needed and might work. This spring.


Discouraging business

A letter to the Hyde Park Herald, October 13, 2o04, by Sach Diwan, past board member, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and business partner (Baby PhD in Harper Court)

Ever since the University of Chicago announced intentions to enhance the neighborhood's commercial life by attracting new businesses to its properties in and around Harper Court, residents and merchants have waited in eager anticipation of whom the university, with its substantial clout, would be able to attract. Urban Outfitters? The Gap? The Checkerboard Lounge? A fine arts theater? A new restaurant?

Rumors and speculation abound. The game, "Guess Who's Coming to Hyde Park?" has become a favorite pastime, second only to Save the Point debates. Regrettably, in the years since the university announced its intentions, nothing has come to fruition.

Today, large vacant storefronts surround Harper Court and dot the streetscape in both directions on 53rd Street. Despite the university's public statements, the unfortunate reality is that by maintaining large vacant properties surrounding both ends of Hyde Park's key commercial area, they are effectively discouraging business in the community. For the sake of residents and business owners alike, I urge the university to move with great haste to fill its vacant storefronts along the 53rd Street business strip and around Harper Court.

I stress to the university that time truly is of the essence. Though beloved by many, Hyde Park's small local businesses cannot survive in isolation.


600 designs, up Harper from Starbucks, is the latest to close. The new Checkerboard and later Harper Grille can't come soon enough.. On the other hand, on 53rd west of Harper, What the Traveler Saw is going great guns with bazaar/show of art and crafts imported from Asia by Helen Kaplow, curator. These are unique. This store continues month-to-month because of uncertainty over the future of its home, the University owned Herald/Harper Theater building.

Another letter writer in December, Berta Hinojosa, tells what she won't miss during her Winter out of Hyde Park:

agonizing over bad decisions by the Co-op
aggressive hustlers and panhandlers on 53d, Harper Court, and Dorchester Commons
garbage-filled trash cans all over the neighborhood, not just Nichols Park
litter-lined streets and depressing 51st Metra viaduct.

"Maybe a simple cold has developed into a serious disease cause by lack of urgent care."


Corrections to perceptions of the above article, with a business update, by Ilene Jo Reizner, dir. U of C Real Estate Operations

Letter to the Hyde Park Herald, October 27, 2004

This is in response to the letter you printed from Mr. Sach Diwan. We would like to clarify that the University of Chicago-owned stores along the "53rd Street business strip" are fully rented. The space we own at the corner of 53rd street ad kimbark Avenue, which may appear vacant to some, has, in fact, been rented to "Third World Cafe" for several months. The owners, who have a sign in the window indicating that the cafe will be opening soon, are in the process of building out their interior space.

As for the "vacant storefronts around Harper Court," the 5201 S. Harper Ave. building (former Women's Workout World) is rented to the Harper Grille and the Checkerboard Lounge. Both leases are in the process of obtaining their building permits. The former Meridian Theater on Harper does, in fact, remain vacant, after the university was turned down by 37 operators to operate a theater there. It will very likely wind up being part of a larger development in that area.

The rest of the vacant space to which Mr. Diwan refers in his letter is not owned by the university, and he may wish to address his concerns to those owners directly.


Essay on the retail district by Roderick Sawyer: Business by democracy in Hyde Park, followed by one on lack of customers

Hyde Park Herald, December 15, 2004

One of the more well discussed topics in Hyde Park is its retail district, or in the opinions of some, the shortcomings of it. During a recent dinner with friends, I became engaged in a discussion concerning the types of stores available here versus other areas in the city, such as Lincoln Park and the South Loop. Using those neighborhoods as a retail location barometer, some would argue that our district comes up short.

Everyone has a stake in a vibrant business community. We all win when new businesses open in our neighborhood, because they attract visitors who spend, they employ local residents and they provide an in-the-neighborhood convenience to local residents, keeping those dollars in the community. Retail districts such as ours are not common throughout the city's South side, and ours stands as an enduring anchor that represents neighborhood strength and growth.

However, the district is now without its challengers. Glaring vacancies exist, along with some perceptions of crime. Inevitably, residents play significant role in attracting businesses here. It is this point that I want to elaborate on, because the Chamber of Commerce, the aldermen, the South East Chicago Commission and the University of Chicago are not the sole determinants for which businesses choose to locate here. Businesses look first at the viability of the market, which, of course, means the residents. If a business requires additional resources or permissions to locate here, it is more likely to go through some form of community review. Participation by our residents in these forums demonstrates a positive dynamic that is sorely lacking in most neighborhoods on the South Side. It also catches many businesses looking to move into the district completely off guard.

We have seen this dynamic in play with Promontory Point, Lake Shore Drive reconstruction and the Murray School addition. While these were projects that involved use of public funds, thus necessitating community review, many privately funded economic projects are put through some of the same paces. A developer once proposed a high-rise condominium complex on 53rd Street, on the site of t he old McDonald;s and Mobil Gas station. The alderman polled nearby residents, who were not in favor of t he building's height and increased traffic, among other things. While this project involved no public funds, those objections signaled the alderman to pass on the developer's original plans. She left the door open to revisions that would have reduced the height of the building. This would have also significantly reduced the number of residential units built, and thus, the return the developer could realize on his investment. McDonalds has since relocated, but the gas station, whose demise has been rumored many times, is still there.

some businesses do not locate here because they run out of patience with the process. Many owners and developers demonstrate great skill at navigating the city's zoning process, show dexterity with planning and obtaining financing, but become stymied and exasperated at how community review can delay their best laid plans, perhaps beyond their worst-case scenarios. They are overwhelmed by residents' concerns, which can sufficiently add more complexity to lan already complicated project. At some point, they decide to give up.

Residents would be wise to understand that Hyde Park thrives well with a proper mix of businesses of various sizes. Every business that locates to or moves from here can produce consequences that affect the quality of life of that neighborhood and/or the health of institutions and other businesses already here. When McDonalds was located across the street from Murray school, it served as the site for a fundraiser where the proceeds from sales benefited the schools's educational needs. We may want more of the larger chains, but more of the smaller businesses lend support to the schools, parks, cultural institutions and some of the other smaller businesses. There must be a sufficient number of well-known businesses here to offer visitors a draw to the district, but local resident ownership tends to be more aware and supportive of local concerns.

Our retail district will thrive as we continue to support it. Community forums to review development are a Hyde Park tradition, and while they do not always move in the direction or pace we feel they should, I believe that it's a process that most neighborhoods wish they had. Once these businesses arrive, we must support them through our continuous patronage, as we do for most of our established businesses here. For better or worse, our retail district is generally what we desire it to be.


Help wanted: customers. Herald Commentary April 26, 2006, by Rod Sawyer

Note, Chamber President Jim Poueymirou agrees there is a crisis, led by people not shopping here. This writer hopes that, having given a diagnosis and pointed out flaws in possible jump starts for business, Sawyer will find and publish some solutions to the erosion of customer base.

I've been reading comments about business conditions and development in both the main and editorial pages of the Herald over the past several months, and I have found them interesting. If you were an outsider following the Herald for an understanding of the business climate here, my guess is that you would think carefully about either locating a business or shopping here.

I am not suggesting that these opinions be muted. They have offered considerable insight and input. However, I feel it is fair to say that if we are trying to encourage businesses to invest here and people to shop here, many of the letters and articles I've been reading don't portray the Hyde Park community as attractive.

This is not to say that we should hide from our problems. Retail has its challenges, a seen in a rise in vacancies, in the current mix of stores, and in some instances, poor customer relations. Some businesses attract negative elements, and others don't keep their storefronts clean. Despite this, businesses continue to come here and try to make a go of it. Some fail outright, while others pull up stakes for greener pastures. When they decide to no longer do business her, they tend to cite the same reason: not enough customers.

We can say that these businesses are to blame, that they were shortsighted and ignored marketplace realities and some of that is true. We can say that they didn't fulfill a need. We can say that they opened up one more business selling something we have too many of. But businesses here still fail for pretty much the same reason: not enough customers.

We can say that businesses should get together to solve their own problems, and they should. We can say that the chamber of commerce, the city, our alderman and the leaders of the community should be forward thinking, and they should be. We can say that the University of Chicago should put its resources behind some of these businesses. While that might be grossly unfair to some businesses, the university is the landlord to many in the neighborhood, and they play a huge role inn bringing some businesses here.

But many businesses come then leave for the same reason: not enough customers to sustain a profit. We could usher in the major chains by giving them incentives to come here. Never mind that existing businesses might subsidize their own competition that way. We could support various zoning variances that would allow some of these businesses entry here, but this could change the character of the neighborhood, and perhaps the quality of life here. We could be more lenient in what we ask new businesses have to do, thus pitting them against older ones, who've managed to meet those challenges using their own creativity.

Even after all of this, there's no guarantees that they would remain here, because they'll only sty if they have enough customers to serve.

Since the Herald is always accused of focusing on problems, maybe they could just print the good stories that happen ...I'm afraid they'd have to become a monthly... What if more businesses became a part of the community and involved themselves more? They could donate products and services to local charities, schools an other deserving groups. They could financially back our little league teams, place ads in fundraising ad books an donate prizes for events community groups sponsor. Many have done this, and their reward? They go out of business, because the goodwill they generate sometimes does not translate into enough customers.

Maybe we ought to stop looking at many of the external and peripheral issues that surround why we don't have the businesses that we want here and focus on the one question that any business has to ask before it invests one penny in development here: Are there enough customers here that will buy what they are selling?

Right now, businesses are putting out signs all over Hyde Park: Help wanted, customers needed, experienced in spending money, all residents and non-residents welcome, please apply at the cash register.

If we give our businesses more business than they an handle, others will be all to happy to come in and pick up the excess.



Joan and Charles Staples answer April 4 2007 that activism is a sign of maturity

We wish to respond to William Zieske (March 21 letter) who is concerned that Hyde Parkers don't want to improve their community. Our objection to Olympic plans concerns the use of park space for a huge non-park structure. We also believe that many of the current residents of the Washington Park area (as well as west of there) will be pushed out rather than included in needed economic development.

As for the post office and barber shop, residents are rightly concerned about the maintenance of successful community resources and businesses. We applaud the retention of these stores, and hope that Hyde Parkers will support businesses that are here, instead of going to the North side or the suburbs.

As long-time residents, we should love to have the clothing stores we used to have, small boutiques, etc. We don't have a decent card shop because it was poorly run. This is not the fault of "immature" Hyde Parkers. We don't know if Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) support the Olympics or not. She certainly has the responsibility to question how it's going to be paid for. If the mayor has made secret deals to use our money, don't you think we should know about it?

Mr. Zieske concludes his remarks by endorsing the Olympics because they will bring us greatness. This wil only happen if we use our intelligence and imagination to truly benefit all of us working together. So far, the process that has been used and the few plans that have been publicized put the power in the hands of the politicians and business leaders.

We believe that our community's activism is a sign of maturity, not childishness.


More views on retailing, climate distress

A Crisis in shopping, says Vreni Naess to Chamber, Herald Feb. 8

I think we can talk about a "crisis in shopping" in Hyde Park. There are, I believe, more empty store fronts than at any time since I have lived in Hyde Park (almost l50 years). The most recent ...occupied large spaces which will probably be hard to rent.

I am upset by the lack of good shopping in Hyde Park. The more stores close, the more I am forced to drive out of the neighborhood for my shopping needs--and the more I am likely to buy everything somewhere else. The most urgent need is for some kind of general store. For a long time, there were three general stores in Hyde Park, two Woolworth's and Breslauer's. Now there are none.

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce needs to be extremely aggressive about attracting businesses to the Hyde Park neighborhood. Every single business in Hyde Park should help in this endeavor, for the fewer stores there are, the more endangered are those who are still here....

Restaurants are not the answer to everything, but they are better than empty spaces.

Nancy Stanek wrote the Herald Feb. 8 that new ownership brings a possibility of improvement over the present "nonprofit" manager, regardless of process. Stanek is owner of Toys Etcetera in Harper Court and stores in other parts of the city.

I have followed Harper Court since its inception--first living as a student a block away as it was being built nd them later operating a business in and around Harper Court for going on 30 years now.

Unlike those who have written letters bemoaning the fate of Harper Court, I for one welcome the change.

What exactly is the change? I really don't know. What I do know is that for the first time the the court may well be run by a for-profit real estate outfit that acknowledges it is in the business of operating a commercial shopping center rather than a non-profit foundation that defines its mission as "promoting the art and culture of Hyde Park."

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for art and culture: that's why I choose to live in Hyde Park. But art and culture are not exactly what's in shortage here.

What's lacking are down-to-earth, practical, day-to-day living commodities--decent clothes, whole foods , home building materials, sewing supplies, bed linens, etc. These sorts of things you find at retail stores, most of which don't exist in Hyde Park.

The fact that Harper Court stands to be turned over to a realtor who plans to fill up the spaces with creditable retail stores has given me a glimmer of hope.

Rather than shutter my door which I was planning, I have decided to give this new ownership the benefit of the doubt and extend Toys et Cetera's lease for a year. I surely wish that the good folks of Hyde Park would do likewise.

P. S. How do you "Save Harper Court"? Shopping here would be a good start. Going to my Lincoln Park store to tell the folks there that "Nancy simply can't close Hyde Park" is not just "blowing in the wind" but indicative of the retail problem we face here.

Richard Gill, as part of a larger discussion of the retail crisis in Hyde Park, also points to Harper Court's management being non-profit (like the Co-op's ) as part of the problem. More of this vigorous discussion is in Business Climate page.) A devil's counter-argument to the following may be that any kind of retail renaissance in Hyde Park is unlikely due to changed retail (and retailer) habits, land costs etc. and that not having a renaissance is as unlikely to effect neighborhood quality and University success that the neighborhood depends on as would having said renaissance.

I'd like to compliment Tedd Carrison's two articles about the Harper Court issue (Herald, Jan. 25). The articles were very helpful in explaining a confusing situation.

Significantly, the same edition contained another article about our local retail scene. "Chamber seeks to stem further loss of business." There's been a lot said about Hyde Park's retailing "problem" lately.

The "problem" is not about to go away. It won't go away, because Hyde Park's two largest retailing installations, Harper /Court and the Hyde Park Co-op Markets are not for-profit institutions.

OKL, so these are supposedly woven into the fabric of Hyde Park's unique character . More hand-wringing about preserving that character won't help; the neighborhood's attractive uniqueness is ultimately bound up in the presence of the University of Chicago. That won't be threatened by getting good, for-profit major retailers into the community.

Here are my suggestions:
1). Shut down the Hyde Park Co-op Markets (yes, the main store). The Co-op has had plenty of time to try to turn itself around. More than anything else, the insistence on "saving" the Co-op sends a message that Hyde Park is a bad business environment. If the Co-op stays, we can probably forget about a retailing renaissance in the neighborhood. The Co-op's very presence is a deterrent.

2. Allow the construction of a different kind of retail place at the Hyde Park Shopping Center--something that successful for-profit retailers can live with. This may require construction, perhaps a two-story supermarket. Retailers have proven that bi-level supermarkets in urban environments are possible (for example, the Jewel at Wabash Street and Roosevelt Road). Anyway, what's so great about the present Hyde Park Shopping Center? It's a strip mall.

3. Hold the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce's Feb. 9 retailing meeting somewhere other than at the Co-op. Move it out of that sam, old non-profit environment. Yes, meet with existing Hyde Park retailers to try to stem the flow out of the community. But inner focus isn't enough; it's especially important to find out what it will take to bring new retailers in.

Neighborhood-preserving commercial design and the profit motive are not mutually exclusive. Hyde Park can have both. But first it must join the world.

Brian Linker wrote in the Feb. 22 Herald, Is there any vision for Hyde Park?

Cheers to Denise Verret! She hit it right on the head with her letter to the editor two weeks ago.

Continue down the current path and it will be difficult for any small business to survive here. The Chamber of Commerce is useless. The SECC states on its website, "The South East Chicago Commission invites you to discover Hyde Park... the prefect spot for you and your business." Anytime I have called them about business ideas, they always have a reason why not as opposed to let's try.

The University rules most commercial real estate. Maybe they should look at Northwestern University in Evanston and see how to promote good, locally owned businesses. The Co-op has a monopoly on grocery shopping and it is a terrible place to shop. The selection is poor and the prices, at times, outrageous. Imagine that!

The 47th Street store has remained empty for God knows how long. Now many people are worried about what will happen to Harper Court. We are in the 21st century, but Hyde Park is trying to hang on to the past. Forget it and let's move on.

I am not promoting a neighborhood that looks like a bunch of suburban strip malls. We need a good blend of both large and small businesses. We need a good deli, like Mrs. Levy's or The Bagel, and other good restaurants. We need The Gap or Old Navy. Home Depot wouldn't be bad at the 47th Street store. Possibly Costco would be another choice. another possibility would be a good grocery store to compete with the Co-op.

Then we need small businesses that reflect the diversity of the neighborhood. I can't even get a good haircut down here. My money is spent on t he North Side. There are great restaurants and plenty of them. there are no boarded up stores like along 53rd street east of the tracks. The stores are bright and clean. They are diverse and appeal to everyone.

And don't think Hyde Park cannot be compared to Lincoln Park. If you check the websites of the two communities, the median income is only a few thousand dollars apart. There is plenty of money in Hyde Park. There just isn't anywhere to spend it. Have you ever heard of anyone from another neighborhood come to Hyde Park to shop?

Hyde Park is quick to take up a great cause like the Point but they are neglecting the economy. I am an experienced, successful businessman and have had several good ideas for businesses but would not consider putting them in Hyde Park until this community wakes up. No offense to the stores in Harper Court, but Harper Court does not draw people to it on its own. When you shop there, you go to one specific store and then leave.

Daniel Burnham had a vision for Chicago. Unfortunately, nobody has a vision for Hyde Park.

More further on. Top

As Dina Weinstein and Brenda Sawyer thank owners of now-defunct Quiznos on 55th for helping the community, Friends of Blackstone early and often, Kristena Lucky asks, "What do Hyde Parkers Want," calls for real retail study--(and so do others).

As a resident of Hyde Park, I share the same concerns that others have expressed recently regarding the lack of "retail vision" for Hyde Park. I moved into the neighborhood just over a year ago because of the diversity of the residents, neighborhood-feel and real estate affordability.

My main complaint from the beginning was with regards to the retail and entertainment options here. I am shocked that despite the powerhouse support of the University of Chicago and such high-profile residents as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama living in the area, the retail economy and environment is in such disarray.

Just look at the growth that continues to happen around the Near South Side, North Center, the UIC Cpus, DePaul, and even the once retail-deprived State Street. Hyde Park has residents f considerable economic means--including university students and employees, their families and friends.

Yet, each day these individuals take their economic power out of the Hyde Park community and instead spend it in other parts of the city. Why? because there are very few stores and restaurants for them to spend their money on here in Hyde Park.

In terms of restaurants, outside of fast food chains, we have very few options. Why is this? Again, we have people of incredible means here that want some place to take friends and family. However, I suspect they, like me, head out of the neighborhood each weekend in order to entertain.

While I understand the desire to preserve Hyde Park's heritage as a community that is open and supportive to local business, at some point you have to ask yourself "is my business what this current community needs and wants?" I would say the closing of many local stores is evidence that community needs are not being met. Community needs have changed and they will continue to change and evolve. This isn't personal, but it is business. and shouldn't' improving the Hyde Park economy be priority number one?

A strong Hyde Park economy will have a trickle down effect on other aspects of the economy. Has anyone gone to Lincoln Square recently? That place has become a destination within the city. That is what Hyde Park should strive to become, a destination, a desirable place to live, work, shop, dine and visit. We are so close to downtown, we are located right by the lake , and we have probably the most diversity within any single area of the city. we have the history of the Point, the history of Professors' Row, the history of the Robie House and so much more. we have many things to offer. Yet, we are talking and at the same time not talking to ourselves.

So please, Hyde Park leadership, wake up! You have an opportunity to take this community to the next level, but you need to plan this accordingly. You need to balance local businesses with proven national businesses such as a Trader Joe's, Urban Outfitters, Crate and Barrel, Linens-n-Things.

You need to look at who lives in the community and what do you think they need now and in future. You need to attract businesses where people would want to spend their money. You need to cultivate successful Chicago business owners and have them open stores/restaurants in the community. You need to set your expectations high for where you think this community can go in the near future.

And why? Because whether you like it or not, the people who live in Hyde Park are going to utilize their economic power. However, unless things change for the better, this financial power will continue to not be spent here in Hyde Park. And this community will be stuck in a time warp while watching other communities within Chicago (can we say Bronzeville) thrive.

Carolyn Ulrich says "support our business"

Like the writers of several recent letters to the Hyde Park Herald, I am mystified by our community's lackluster retail performance. You would think that a neighborhood with a goodly number of million dollar homes could support a thriving business district. You would also think that a university community would be a magnet for a multitude of varied, interesting shops. This is the case elsewhere in the country. Why not here?

Perhaps the members of our chamber of commerce or other residents who have negotiated with prospective businesses could enlighten us. Why do retailers look at Hyde Park and then decline to bring their businesses here? What do they see that they don't like? Obviously, it's something.

On the other hand, there are fine businesses that stay her for a few years an then close. Why: No doubt there are various reasons, but the bottom line must be that they're not making enough money. And why should that be?

One obvious answer must be that Hyde Parkers aren't shopping there. Case in point: a recent letter from Nancy Stanek, owner of Toys et Cetera, who said that sometimes Hyde Park residents shop at her Lincoln Park location. I was aghast.

If we don't support the businesses we do have, then they too will leave and we'll be left with little more than grocery stores and service stations which, these days, offer little service. (Why, oh why, can't there be a real garage in the neighborhood that would be open on weekends? Our cars break down on Saturdays and Sundays, too.) And it would be really nice if we could just buy socks and underwear without having to leave the neighborhood.



Several say that high costs and shopper going elsewhere for options is driving business out. But C'est Si Bon owner Renee Bradford has found ways to thrive

Her business has thrived for 15 years, even having a great lunchtime rapport with high school students. The heart of her business is catering, and the restaurant grew out of it. She grew up with solid support of family, to which she credits much of her success. She pursued college and an MBA, went into corporate business, then took the plunge into entrepreneurship. She also credits marketing with her success along with stressing the catering side. Even if Harper Court changes, she says, she believes she will thrive anywhere in Hyde Park.



Think nothing can be done about homelessness and panhandling? San Francisco has a program that ought to be looked at, even though results are mixed to date.

San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsome put into effect in early 2004 a program that has effectively taken panhandlers off the main thoroughfares by cutting benefits from $410 to $59 and substituting shelters and housing help, medical help and drug rehab. Hundreds of volunteers were engaged. Drawbacks include bulky applications and interviews for the shelters and that some have moved to other parts of town, including many of the most chronic-dysfunctional, and insufficient rooms to house all who have been living on the streets. The Mayor says, give us time.


L3 Development buys huge vacant parcel on 53rd east of tracks for mixed use development, Kenwood LLC buys block east of Kenwood on 53rd- bank branch, rehabbed rental planned. Pluses and minuses, descriptions

53rd-Cornell block. Gary Ossewaarde 53rd at Cornell
Fernando Leal presented latest concepts for a large development at 53rd and Cornell to the 53rd TIF Advisory Council public meetings, latest November 14. 2. Ald. Preckwinkle had sent the grown to 17 stories development with only 7% affordable back to the drawing board. At the November 17 meeting, the affordable sector, now at Preckwinkle's expected 15% were inexplicably to be provided in a separate building, place unknown. One person said this is tantamount to segregation. The building remains at 17 stories but with fewer, larger units, entries to parking off Cornell (now 1.25 spaces per), and there is delivery-trash pickup off 53rd at the Metra bridge.

Re: Leal's possible mid-rise at the Vivekenanda Vedanta Society property, 5400 block of S. Hyde Park Blvd.: Alderman Hairston short-term down zoned the affected properties to more than 7 stories. Mr. Leal has dropped out. The Ald. will not consider zoning change and a public meeting until there is a new developer and plan.


Latest: The September 12 2005 TIF Advisory Council meeting declined to vote on Mr. Leal's changing 53rd and Cornell project after objections (on different grounds) by Ald. Preckwinkle and neighbors to the north. Leal is looking at making the development higher, with larger units, and moving auto entrances to Cornell (which neighbors think is too busy already but others think superior to burdening 53rd). The alderman wants more "affordable" units than the planned 7% (and notes that plans are considerably changed from as presented to many community groups), while council and Planning Committee members warn that units he wants to market to parents of UC students should not be too small. Leal may be ready to come back to the Council in November, or Alderman Preckwinkle, meeting with Leal Sept. 23, may convene a special Community Meeting in November if Leal is not ready by the Nov. 14 TIF meeting. Preckwinkle presses for 15% affordable--see in High Rise page.

Leal's proposal in fact became 17.5 stores, but was dropped in the 2007 financial and housing pullback. , still mostly residential but with ground floor retail and restaurant. Ald. Preckwinkle told the TIF, "I'm concerned about two things that I should be real blunt about. One is the increase in the number of units over the presentation that's been made in a variety of community settings. And the second thing is the very modest number of affordable units. These are both issues that I would like to see addressed more fully." (Note that Preckwinkle is seeking to pass a city ordinance for 15% affordable set asides in private residential projects. She has been successful in getting such set asides in projects in the 4th Ward.) Leal noted he has already boosted the cost by $2 million to accommodate affordable units.

In addition, Preckwinkle wants Leal to complete promised studies of shadow and traffic.


I. Fernando Leal of L3 Development bought for $5m the long-emptied stretch east of Metra/Canadian National to Cornell on the north side of 53rd from Mario Soldo, owner of Blackstone Management. (Extraordinarily, the developer received offers soon after that would have netted a tidy profit.) The University of Chicago had turned down purchase more than once saying the market should handle this one. Several had also wondered why tenants were not invited to occupy some of the spaces during the sale process. Many wrote letters to media complaining the area was dangerous, unkempt and gave the impression of a failing business district and community. This stretch was in fact by far the largest and one of the few vacant properties on 53rd Street.

As of the start of September, as discussed with the TIF Planning and Development Committee, Leal was considering moving the curb cuts/traffic entries from 53rd to Cornell and adding two stories. (Parking need only be .7 that close to a transit station but he is thinking of 1.2 ratio. 12 stories equiv. in feet is the maximum height allowed.) He was advised not to make the small units too small if he expects to sell to parents of students. The number of total units is moving back up. Most expected to buy were speculated to be north siders.

In presentations, such as to the East Hyde Park Committee on June 15, Leal (whose most recent project was the historic conversion of the Ambassador West) unveiled a twelve-story 136-foot 200,000 sq-ft. structure clad in red brick and limestone and looking very much like the nearby Del Prado and East View buildings. Plans are very much in flux and not a sure thing as the right working-square-feet, parking and other balances are worked out. The ground level will probably have a classy restaurant and some other retail (not another bank, he said), parking entrance against the Canadian National railway (with which he seeks to work for beautification), a galleria passageway in the middle, and parking inside--a separate section for the residents, some may be possible for the community esp. at night as well as for the retail. The next floor was to have a shared office complex but will probably have residential and or parking there instead. The upper stories of slightly varied heights-penultimately at the 53rd Cornell corner, will have varied units of up to 1800 sq. ft. The residential unit plans are being revised downward from 120 to c. 85-90 larger units, to emphasize 2 and a number of 3 bedroom condos--which will be perhaps the most expensive condos in Hyde Park but with 15 percent set aside as more affordable. There will be a roof garden on top of the parking section, and an unused parcel is being offered to a nearby high rise as compensation for shadows (still being studied). They are talking with all neighbors. A sensitive, high-end retail search firm has been hired. Architect-builders will be Antunovich, which is doing the Catholic Theological Union expansion. This will be a Planned Development due to height, not density.

The November 14 TIF meeting approved the project, but there is a fly--the city and alderman have allowed Leal the option of building his affordable units outside the complex--and that has raised a storm. (see High Rises-Condos.)

Leal confirmed to a Chamber of Commerce bash that he has reduced significantly the number of units per floor and has increased parking. He hopes for a number of restaurants, some with sidewalk seating.

Leal told the Herald, "We consider this corner one of the portals into Hyde Park. We want to do something very elegant. I'm incredibly sensitive to the community." Demolition of the existing properties is expected to follow environmental study, especially of the garage. Leal has consulted and well as presented concepts to Ald. Preckwinkle and community groups and forums (next being the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours June 30 and the July 11 TIF Advisory Council meeting. Of course, we are talking a couple years at least before this is substantially done.

Leal told East Hyde Park Committee, "We want to set the market, to set the standard for other developers who want to come in."

This will be an interesting project to watch because-due to lack of recent large developments in the area--there are few benchmarks in figuring what use of space and prices will work and because the developer is eschewing both a prefab structure and a 30-story tower.

Leal is considering several other developments in Hyde Park, of which the 53rd-Cornell would be the "flagship." In ascending order of size, these are the Vedanta Society in the 5400 of Hyde Park Blvd., the McDonald-Mobil site on 53rd and Kenwood--close to purchase, and to be bidded upon: Doctor's Hospital at 5800 S. Stony Island. If all of these (and who knows what other opportunities might turn up), this would be the largest suite of developments since Hal Lichterman's (Kenard's conversion of Osteopathic in the 1990s and in progress at the Shoreland) at least and would make Leal one of the big real estate holders in the neighborhood. And the two developments on 53rd would make major changes for 53rd-especially if major retail is involved- while strengthening the two ends of the commercial district. They would also help fill the TIF coffers.

No wonder Bob Mason says, "this is huge." Concerns were expressed at meetings about parking, traffic, and "affordable" housing in the community.


II. In March 2005 Kenwood LLC, an investment group, purchased the 1350-64 E.53rd large building. The upper floors in the 3 flat, which has seen no investment for decades, will be rehabbed for renters. (So the present renters, occupying just 2/3 of the units, are leaving--will they or their income-equivalent be able to afford the building? The management firm's (NJ-based MAC Properties, which has rehabbed many units in the neighborhood) spokesman is quoted as saying they and the new owners are committed to affordability in Hyde Park and refused to go condo, but won't pretend this is not a "gentrification." The lower level, (4,100 sq. ft.) which was originally expected to accommodate six existing Minority-owned or equivalent local small businesses (House of Africa, LE Collection, Hyde Park Cleaners, Leaders clothier, Shyne Silver, Hyde Park Nails) will instead be remade for a branch of non-local Washington Mutual Bank. Granted, most of these businesses were behind in their rent.

Questions will doubtless be raised about effect on business mix diversity, whether we need yet another bank in Hyde Park, hurt to local business participation as well as to building minority and women enterprise. (only one of the six as of writing was able to find a new home in Hyde Park-the cleaners, filling one of the very few vacancies left across the street). One of the owners, LaShawn Edwards of LE Collection--9 years at that location, has filed a suit claiming insincere and unprofessional negotiations by new owners/managers; MAC has counter sued. Another owner also called the Chamber of Commerce and Harper Court unhelpful and, having missed 4 other locations due alleged incorrect assurances, is joining Mystique Boutique, Mothaland, Laws Concept, Jazz Barbershop and others in moving to Bronzeville--Note owners, etc. HP is no longer the only game in play nearby!!!

The upgrades are likely a boon to the coffers of the 53rd HP TIF District down the road, as would be the new development east of the tracks.

Corey Gilkey, moving Leaders to Bronzeville, said to the Herald, "Hyde Park is dead...You know whole deal the Hyde Park did with Tony's [Sports]. They put Tony' out for CVS pharmacy..." Gilkey said 53rd is the Mecca. In response, Cheryl Heads of the Chamber of Commerce said space was located at Mystique Boutique and Mattress World on 53rd in addition to spaces on 51st and 53rd. Harper Court would not have its 3 vacant spaces available timely and has a waiting list for them.


Sharonjoy A. Jackson (a Conference member) writing in the June 16 Herald says we "can little afford to lose any business of any type ...businesses that appear to be doing well should be nurtured." She believes not enough was done and systematically to find replacement space. Also, notice of changes affecting businesses need a long lead time. Does Hyde Park really value diverse retail? she wonders. Or are we giving priority and preference to larger, more commercial-corporate businesses (mostly owned out of neighborhood or state). As options become more limited, people increasingly shop outside the neighborhood. And no one is helping businesses on the verge of giving up.

Karen Philips writes the June 16 Herald that by doing the above we are dashing the American Dream and yanking the rug for many. She points to South East Chicago Commission and the Chamber as doing little or not enough, perhaps, she suggests, considering the ma and pa retail type store disposable.

Another wrote that she will sorely miss the upscale boutique that was forced to close in the 1300 block building.

Continuing re: the above concerns, it is increasingly hard for local small businesses to stay in Hyde Park due to retail demand and wait lines, especially from big and agile chains, and to high rent. Fortunately for the businesses, there are more and more up-and-coming retail districts on the south side where rent is still fairly moderate. Mystique Boutique, a tenant of over 23 years in the East View complex at 53rd and S. Hyde Park Blvd., is the latest to go--to the South Loop. (See re: more above.) Its former location has much interest and will be let very soon, as are several vacancies in Harper Court. Several say it's too late, people are to used to shopping outside HP at increasing options while service is poor and complacency rife in too many HP businesses.


L3's first thoughts on redeveloping the Mobil-old McDonald's site at 53rd-Kenwood

Ferdinand Leal of L3 Development told reporters he was amenable to or else doing all he can to lure a high-end-chain such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe's into a development at 53rd near Kenwood that would likely go to 6 or 7 stories with condos (but no higher than the nearby Versailles Apts.--the very upper limit suggested to him by Ald. Preckwinkle.) Leal is expected to close on the property c. August 22. Some savvy with all sides of the city and suburbs opine that this luring the named stores will be an uphill battle; the demographics are not attractive to them.

Leal is quoted in the Herald: "We'll be focusing on an aggressive campaign to attract a strong retail component like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's... In almost every meeting several people have said they'd like us to try to bring some kind of upscale grocer to that location."

The Herald of August 10 (Jeremy Adragna) continues: "No official plans have been proposed yet for the 50,000 square-foot parcel, but Leal indicated he is planning for a mixed-use development with retail space and several floors of condominiums above."

Will the relatively high building, a ways from public transportation, fall afoul of the criticism that killed the Kretchmar proposal a few years ago? Leal's target deadline for first plans is next summer.

Next thoughts:

The November 12 TIF Advisory Council meeting declined to vote on Mr. Leal's changing 53rd and Cornell project after objections (on different grounds) by Ald. Preckwinkle and neighbors to the north. Leal is looking at making the dev. higher, with larger units, and moving auto entrances to Cornell (which neighbors think is too busy already). The alderman wants more "affordable" units, while council and Planning Committee members warn that units he wants to market to parents of UC students should not be too small. Leal may be ready to come back to the Council in November after shadow and other studies.


The Herald asked readers if they would like to see a Whole Foods or Traders Joe's on 53rd. Almost all replying said "yes", leaning toward Trader Joe's but some saying that 47h would be a better and more amenable location. Most either said such competition would not hurt the Co-op or wanted the competition even if the Co-op goes under.



News bits and Perking up: Starbucks may help business climate- so are lots of other new businesses, chain and local

Hyde Park Bank began street level facade rehab.

University National Bank is sold to a suburban group with 16 branches and will become a BankFinancial but few other changes. Ronald Duitsman will retire after 33 years as president of UB.

Joining the scene in fall 2005: Lotus Living Urban Retreat and Wholeness Ctr. 1755 E. 55th, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage at 5239 S. Harper (former 600 Designs) Jim Poueymirou, Istria Cafe in the 57th Metra Station, Potbelly Sandwiches (no coffee) in the north end of the Hyde Park Shopping Center. Dr. Rice sushi and Asian American restaurant, recently opened at 47th and Drexel, is said to popular with students (delivers late at night, and who else in HP has good, inexpensive sushi?). Opening c mid December will be the Japanese hair/medicinal bath/massage spa and wellness center at 53rd and Dorchester, owned by Hyde Parkers the Stuart Luppescus (Stuart is with the UC's Consortium on Chicago School Research.)

Also, Istria is looking to open at least two more, centrally-located coffee houses in the neighborhood, say Hyde Parker owners Tim Schau and Paul Pribaz. And the University has found Italian specialty candy firm Marmolada Chicago for the Fannie May space in the Hyde Park Shopping Center-but when that fell through went with Home Made Pizza. The Cafe Sienna site in the 1600 block of 55th will soon have a middle eastern themed "hookah" coffee venue. MAC Properties is seeking a national chain for the demised Night and Day Foods in the same block. Across the street to the east, Subway, under new management, is remodeling while Orlys' is expanding east with a bakery on the line of Corner Bakery. In fact, it will serve breakfast! Now if only the old Art's Cycle space could be filled, 55th east of the bridge will be restocked with stores.

The Chamber of Commerce is looking seriously at Laurel Stratford's (What the Traveler Saw) idea for a community festival or taste of on 53rd Street in 2006. Sarah Diwan told the Herald it's an excellent idea, we need to show signs of life on 53rd and Harper and that there are local retailers around. Stratford said it's important to attract retail and a variety of it so people don't go elsewhere for a couple items--and stay to buy all their needs! Chamber President James Poueymirou wants to make sure its a polished event that takes all members' needs into account.

Patty Kidwell, owner of Noodles Etc., now located in the Herald Building whose future along with the Theater is uncertain, has bought the Far East Kitchen- across the street in a 2-flat owned by Jane Moy, also owner of the restaurant. No changes are expected in the near future. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Noodles is turning over part of its take to relief for Katrina victims. Doing the same is 3 Pillars Wellness. The new name for the former Far East Kitchen is CHANT.

Late additions: Alise's Designer Shoe Salon in Harper Court, 773 667-0929. Frontline Books and Crafts, 5206 S. Harper. Istria Cafe, 1520 E. 57th in the Metra station. Bedding Experts, relocated at 1447E. 53rd (formerly World Gym) which it shares with T-Mobile. PHLI in Harper Court. Potbelly Sandwich Works at the north end of Hyde Park Shopping Center. Artisans 21 is open after remodeling. Shyne, a silver good store, opened at 1635 E. 55th and later closed. American Mattress, Apartment Finders, Fair Trade...


Confection Affection 1436 E. 52nd has merged with next-door Media Matters technology and game store. A Japanese spa, Spa Zen has opened in the Versailles, 380 E. 53rd. Vacancies on 53rd are rapidly filling or have new property owners. We will watch what goes into the rest of Mystique Boutique space at 53rd and Hyde Park in addition to Art's Cycle (from 55th) and two small businesses.

Chicago Weekly News, November 20, 2003. By Thane Rehn

The corner of 55th street and Woodlawn Avenue has changed dramatically in recent weeks, as the opening of a Starbucks there has raised the amount of foot traffic and social interaction. According to community and University officials, this is part of a broader process: an economic transformation of Hyde Park that is putting the neighborhood on the map for national retailers.

"There's a dynamic going," said Bob Mason, director of the South East Chicago Commission, a public interest group that monitors economic activity in Hyde Park. He cited both the Starbucks and the new Borders as indicative of the trend. "You have commercial brokers again noticing Hyde Park. These businesses succeed and other businesses notice that."

The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that many national companies view the presence of a Starbucks as a seal of approval on their prospects for success in a neighborhood. This raises the visibility of the area, potentially leading to more interest from national retailers, and even along-term increase in rental rates for retail space.

Mason confirmed this, adding that it is too early to see what impact the Starbucks will have. "That has been a national trend, but I want to wait and see what happens." [The new Starbucks at 71st and Stony Island has been one of the busiest!!!]

Two factors have a major impact on Hyde Park's development: the University of Chicago's presence in the neighborhood and the role of city officials. Both have had a major role to play in the rent developments. The U of C owns the property that Starbucks is using, along with many prominent business locations throughout Hyde Park. Local officials, most notably Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, have also lobbied for national chains like Borders to come to the area.

Jo Reizner, Director of Real Estate Operations at the U of C, states that this trend has been going on for some time now, and will continue. According to Reizner, University officials have been meeting with community groups to discus the future of the large University-owned building on 53rd street that formerly housed the Hyde Park Meridian Theater. One plan fort the theater involves a national theatre operator that may be interested in using the building as a art movie house. If that does not work out, the U of C plans to redevelop the property to accommodate both residential and retail spaces.

Reizner said that there is a growing momentum for more retailers to come to the neighborhood. "I think Hyde Park is more on national retailers' screen than it has been in a very long time. It would be nice for Hyde Park to be able to choose among retailers."

The rising prominence of national chains has prompted some concern among community members and local businesses that this development poses a threat to community-owned enterprises. Mason and Reizner disputed this idea, saying that these businesses have a positive overall effect on the business community. Reizner added that the U of C carefully considers a number of values when deciding on development plans. "The important thing is to have a good blend of independent and national retailers that offer products and services that are beneficial to the community," she said.

Alderman Preckwinkle pointed to the positive effects of new stores on the quality of life for Hyde Parkers, and the chance for these businesses to attract more and more commerce into the area. "Starbucks is a national retailer that many people are comfortable with, so I think that i[t']s great to have one there," she said.

Ultimately, it seems clear that Hyde Parkers should get used to an increasing prominence of national chains. "I think the market drives these things," said Mason. "That's just our society, businesses start up and close down all the time." When asked if the recent openings signal better times to come for the Hyde Park economy, Preckwinkle summed it up best. "We hope and pray," she said.

World Gym space has been occupied by two by new tenants.

Rib and Bibs finally reopened in early December 2005.

Andrew Witherell has rented the 8,000-square-foot former Woolworth's, then World Gym space at 1451 E. 53rd to two tenants. Bedding Experts, currently at 1379 E. 53rd, will relocate into the west half and a new T-Mobile Cellular (now in) outlet will move into the east half, both starting about July. Witherell says many changes will be made to the interior, heating systems, roof, and of course two new entries and signage. The large facade of glass will remain. Bob Mason of SECC told the Herald "I'm glad to see that get occupied. That's been a sore spot."

Potbelly Sandwiches will occupy the Coco rico location at the north end of the 55th St. Shopping Center, joining 3 Subways, 2 Quiznos, Dunkin' Donuts/Togo's, and others. The Quiznos are gone.

Art's Cycle is now in the Mystique Boutique space on 53rd near Hyde Park Blvd. The pricier spot at the intersection is not yet filled. Art's moved for more space at a better price.

Boyajian's Bazaar, now owned by Alison Alexander, is now open! Unusual pieces and sets from abroad included. And you can make jewelry there. 773 324-2020. Now Gone.

There are not a lot of vacant store-fronts down 53rd Street. The largest chunk of vacant retail space, seven empty store-fronts between the Metra viaduct and Cornell Avenue, is currently owned by Mario Soldo of Blackstone Management, who's in the process of selling off the space, says the Herald.

Mason said several businesses, including bicycle shops, clothing boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, sporting goods stores and ice cream shops, have expressed interest in moving into the area. Recently someone inquired about the space formerly owned by 600 Designs, 5239 S. Harper Ave.

Other vacant businesses include: 1344 E. 53rd St. (old McDonald's), 5226 and 28 S. Harper, 1527 and 1546 E. 55th, 1746 E. 55th (form. Jackson Hewitt), 5428 S. Lake Park.

Hyde Park Records has opened in Mid-november, 2004, replacing 2nd Hand Tunes at 1377 E 53rd, which closed after a protracted civil liberties fight with the city. Three former employees reopened the small former chain's most lucrative store, according to articles in the Herald and Chicago Maroon. One, Boomer Lowe, said"We used to work here--this place used to kick ass..We said, 'there can't not be a store here.'" The store has been cleaned up and the stock is best of the old stores and new stock. "The more music fans in the neighborhood, the better." Even better, they plan to have live music on weekends.

Third World Cafe has opened at 1301 E. 53rd. Owner-Hyde Park residents Forrest and Moore and wife Sarah Lok seeks to tailor their shop to niche needs that create their ideal in a coffee shop through its music, internet access, beverage and foods offerings.

Kilimanjaro, which features a rare personal collection of African Art, jewelry and clothing, has replaced Tina's Boutique at 1400 E. 53rd. Profits go largely to support owner Rose Garrett's One Tree of Black Artists of America, which raises money for homeless and abused children in America and Africa and teaches entrepreneurship to artistic children. Now moved to the former Boyajian's on 53rd.

Subway at 1642-44 E. 55th had a grand reopening under new owner Wynell Gray.

Two Quiznos are now open in Hyde Park--on 53rd which is fast filling in west of Dorchester with inviting storefronts, and on 55th at Lake Park. All now gone.

Harris has opened a full-financial center at 5493 Cornell.

Baby PhD on Harper is expanding its range of products and services for infants and their parents to include more networking and informational meetings.

The owners of in-process Istria coffee shops in the 51st and 57th Metra stations are locals with savvy marketing ideas. There is a tenant for the 53rd station, not yet disclosed.

In early December 2004, Burger King at 52st and Lake Park folded up after 12 years with a year to go on its lease. Perhaps it didn't like competition from the new nearby drive-in McDonalds. There are many bites on the Burger King site, in the Village Center. The big empty space there is the former space of Advocate Health Center.

The place of The Caring Closet on Harper south of 53rd was been taken by used clothier Deja Vu Consignment Boutique, since gone.


Alison Alexander to keep Boyajian's going!! But could not.

Preserving a Hyde Park gem
By Glenn Jeffers
Tribune staff reporter
Published November 25, 2004

He was delicate with the box, careful as he pulled it from the counter's glass casing and opened it with his fingertips. Inside was a handcrafted mirror from China, decorated with a painting of a blue serpent.

Already hunched from a bad back, Richard Boyajian bent in closer and picked up the mirror by its gemstone handle. He had sold two others like it that day, he said as strands of gray hair fell over his face. This was the last one in stock.

"No place else has this," Boyajian said.

At 82, Boyajian was retiring from the international bric-a-brac business. And for a while, it seemed as if Hyde Park would lose its home for incense sticks, beads, Kenyan soapstone carvings and other worldly wares.

But in buying the business this month, longtime customer Alison Harris Alexander ensured that the quirky and cluttered Boyajian's Bazaar on East 53rd Street would live on in the eclectic South Side neighborhood.

"We had to keep it in the neighborhood," said Alexander, 44. "I think a lot of people would miss it if it went away."

She helped to keep alive a quirky corner of a nationally known neighborhood that, like many others in Chicago, has also become the home of coffee-shop chains and other businesses one can find anywhere.

"We have almost nothing like that anymore," said Jay Mulberry, program director and vice president of the Hyde Park Historical Society. "We've been losing places like this for years."

The cozy craft store had developed a loyal clientele since opening 24 years ago, selling atypical knickknacks from such places as Egypt, Poland, Ghana and the Czech Republic. Shelves lined the walls, filled with stone and wood carvings, mother-of-pearl and brass candleholders made only in India, dolls from Africa and crystals from Austria.

Boxes of beads sat in the middle of the store, stewing with the scents of exotic wood and incense. All the gemstone beads were from Hong Kong, Boyajian said, joking that he owned 1 percent of the world's beads.

"My intent is to be international," Boyajian said.

The beads attracted Alexander to Boyajian's store one day in 1984. She had moved from Albany, Ga., to run Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., an African-American sorority based in Hyde Park. As she headed to a grocery store, Alexander walked past the store.

"I ended up buying beads and coming back year after year," said Alexander, who uses them to make jewelry and decorate dolls for friends.

When Alexander heard in September that Boyajian was retiring and the store could close, Alexander inquired about buying the business from him.

Boyajian plans to help Alexander understand the business before he and his wife move in January to a retirement center in Olympia, Wash. Alexander takes over Wednesday.

Boyajian said he would bring as much of his inventory as he could to the center and continue selling and fixing jewelry.

"We'll tell them, `Bring what you got here,' and we'll try to fix it," Boyajian said.

Though Alexander plans to retain the store's name and eccentric fare, she said she would make a few changes. Gone will be the trademark cash box and itemized receipt pad that Boyajian used to add up and record purchases. Instead, Alexander will use a computer and point-of-sale software.

"Let's just say I plan on automating the inventory," she said.

Boyajian built his store along cottage industry principles he discovered while studying the beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi during a teaching mission to New Delhi in the late 1960s. Gandhi had advocated the home-based goods industry as a non-violent method to stand against British rule and industrialization.

The concept of peaceful protesting resonated in the Chicago-born Boyajian. After graduating from high school in the early 1940s, Boyajian joined the Enlisted Reserve Corps to avoid being drafted. Nevertheless, Boyajian was called up during World War II and served for three years. After he returned to Chicago, the self-described anti-war advocate finished his graduate degree in biochemistry and became a teacher. He converted to the Quaker faith, which matched his pacifist beliefs, and he met his future wife, Polly, during a Quaker meeting.

Boyajian continued teaching at the University of Chicago Lab School after his trip to India. Retiring in 1980, he was determined to organize recycling in his neighborhood, work in landscape architecture, or open a craft store.

He abandoned the recycling program once the city started its own. The craft store idea finally won over his architect ambitions, he said.

"I was Gandhi in my thinking," said Boyajian. "The world needs help to get better."

He kept the store as minimalist as possible. He wrote down sales on a receipt pad and added prices in his head, using a handheld calculator only to double-check. He didn't advertise, and he didn't accept credit cards. Usually, pocket change was enough. On a recent day, a customer making her own earrings bought six earring backings, eight curved wires and two pins. The total: $2.76.

Boyajian also reused what he could, from cardboard boxes with different brand names to plastic bags that had contained copies of The New York Times.

Boyajian donated a portion of his profits to charities, most notably UNICEF. After selling items at last year's annual meeting of Quakers in Milwaukee, Boyajian donated almost $3,000 in profits to the American Friends Service Committee.

"I'm not sure how he became that way," said Boyajian's daughter, Laurel, 46, an artist living on Vashon Island, Wash. "It's linked to the Quaker philosophy to look for the good in everyone."

While on her way to a vegetable store one October day, Nancy Stonor-Sanders and her daughter Olivia took a detour into Boyajian's. Stonor-Sanders bought a tiny, glass snail for her daughter, who had earned all A's on an interim report card.

"Remember, the snail is breakable," Boyajian said as he handed the item to Olivia, 10.

As the two spoke about their shared Armenian heritage, Stonor-Saunders learned that Boyajian was retiring. She told the shopkeeper she loved stopping by and perusing the store whenever she was on 53rd Street. "It reminds me of my childhood," Stonor-Saunders said of the store. "I always poke in and leave with something I didn't plan on getting."
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune


Changing worlds in retail.... and some unusual and favorite Hyde Park shops and services (see also the restaurant-bars-entertainment etc. page, arts and entertainment directory and calendar, and grocery scene.)

Powell's Bookstores depends on the 20 percent of its sales via internet (much to Amazon) to keep its business afloat. Powell's has over 3 million books in 3 stores and a large warehouse. Still, owner Brad Jonas misses the days when the store was filled with people physically browsing the carefully and clearly laid out premises, asking questions, and discovering the book for them.

Blackstone Bicycle works- 6100 S. Blackstone, 773 241-5458. Trains youth, repairs, sells used, services the UC bikeshare program.

Cornell Florist. Where everyone heads or calls in a pinch. 1645 e. 55th st. 773 324-1651.

DJ's Bike Doctor, Inc. David Jones. Limited hours in winter. 1500 E. 55th St. 773 955-4400. http:/

Drawers Intimates. Yes, it is a sex-toy shop. Mon-Sat 1-7. 1450 E. 52nd. 773 947-8800. http://www,

Fair Trader Chicago, The. Clothes, gifts, decor. M-F 11-6, Sats 10-5. 1623 E. 55th St 773 966-5269.

Freehling Pot and Pan. From quality namesakes and spices to unusual items. M-F 11-6, Sat 10-5. 1365 E. 53rd St. 773 643-8080.

Hyde Park Hair Salon. Where Obama was coifed but with an important history of its own- and feat rues in an exhibit at Black Pearl. 9-7, 8-6, 8-5. 5234 S. Blackstone. 773 493-6028.

Hyde Park Produce. 1226 E. 53rd St. 773 324-7100.

Hyde Park Records. 1377 E. 53rd St. 773 288-6588.

Parker's Pets. Boutique, toys, food (incl. Dog Beer Food), not live. M 12-6, Tu-F 11-7, sat 10-6, Sun non-5. 1342 E. 55th St. 773 643-7387.

Sensual Steps. Shoe Professa Nichole Jones and women's shoe parties. 5418 S. Cottage Grove. 773 548-3338.

Stamp Lays salon and store. 1371 E. 53rd St. 7773 241-6200.

Tati Cycles. Custom, parts, classic duds. 1013 E. 53rd St. 773 598-8284.

Toys et Cetera. 1502 E. 53rd St. 773 324-6039.

Wesley's Shoe Corral. Traditional store. 1506 E. 55th St. 773 667-7463.

What the Traveler Saw. Laurel Stradford buys worldwide. 1508 E. 55th St. 773 955-5055.

Wheels & Things. 773 493-4326.