March 2004 e-Newsletter
Borders Opening (48th Ward)
Opening date has been set back to either April 17th or 23rd. Grand Opening festivities are scheduled for Mother's Day weekend.
Wilson Yard (46th Ward)
A community meeting was held March 10th at Truman College. Speakers included Alderman Shiller and members of the Department of Planning and Holsten Real Estate Development's master development team. Representatives of Truman College and the CTA were also present, but did not participate in the presentation. It was stressed that this was a status update and that the plans are still fluid. A lengthy PowerPoint presentation illustrated the new site plan, as it is currently envisioned.
A replacement store for Aldi's would be constructed immediately south of the McJunkin Building. It would be flush with the Broadway sidewalk and surface parking for patrons would be located behind the store. There was no discussion about design/style/attractiveness of new construction. UCC has strong opinions about quality of design for all of Broadway frontage.
Sunnyside Avenue would be extended westward into the Wilson Yard site. This would provide access into parking areas. The extension would terminate at the Wilson Yard and not extend through the Truman College campus. Kenmore Avenue would become a cul-de-sac in front of Stewart Grammar School. A campus park would be created in its place. This park would be considered the primary "green" component of the Wilson Yard development. UCC has concerns that the Wilson Yard site itself has inadequate green space to accommodate all of the new residential inhabitants.
Once Aldi moved into its replacement store, the former store and the Montrose/Broadway building to the south would be razed. TIF monies would be used to relocate the liquor store, tattoo parlor and all of the other businesses currently operating in the Montrose/Broadway building. All land east of the L tracks would be dug out to provide a large underground parking garage for the big box retailer, which is expected to be Target. The Target Store would be two stories tall and approximately 190,000 sq ft. Constructed on top of the Target would be a multiplex movie theater with 10-16 screens, and constructed above the theaters would be an additional 350 parking spaces for use by theater patrons.There was no discussion about design/style/attractiveness of new construction. UCC has strong opinions about quality of design for all of Broadway frontage.
A walkway (or arcade) would be to the south of the big box, providing street level access to the theaters. Small retail spaces might be available along the arcade.
A rental building for low-income senior citizens would be constructed at the corner of Montrose and Broadway. Terra cotta from the existing building would be removed and reinstalled on the new building, or it would be exactly replicated (depending upon condition of the original terra cotta.) The structure would be a mid-rise, with approximately 90 one-bedroom units. Residential parking, drop-off space and green space were not addressed in the current plan. These needs must be adequately addressed as the plan moves forward.
A two-story commercial building would be constructed to the west along Montrose. It would be set back from the street with a u-shaped drive in front. There are hopes for a restaurant on the first floor and the second floor would be office space for local not-for-profit organizations. These may include the Uptown Peoples Law Center and the St. Augustine American Indian Drop-in Center, both of which currently rent space in the Montrose/Broadway Building and would otherwise be displaced by the project. Space for other organizations may also be available.
To the west of this structure would be another residential mid-rise. 90 units with 1-2-3 bedrooms would be available as "affordable housing" rentals for the 1st 15 years (managed by Holsten) and converted to co-op ownership thereafter. No clear information was given regarding whether the residents would be working families, or families on public assistance. UCC has strong opinions regarding the further concentration of low-income families in Uptown. However, if these units are available to families with earned income, there is not likely to be wide community opposition. Residential parking, drop-off space and green space were not addressed in the current plan. These needs must be adequately addressed as the plan moves forward.
CTA has not agreed to sell all of its property at Wilson Yard. It plans to retain the property under- and west-of the L tracks. The city and CTA have not agreed on a sales price, or timing of such a transaction. The city hopes to finalize these negotiations in about three months.
CTA has no current plans to remove the unused tracks on the west side of its property, citing lack of funding.
CTA plans to renovate the existing Wilson L stop in the next couple years.
Parking for Truman College, which had been an integral component of the Wilson Yard development until this meeting, was not addressed. The grocery, Target and movie theaters each desire dedicated parking. Truman College parking needs must now be handled on the community college property, with a parking deck. Truman has hired a consulting firm to assess their needs and make recommendations. UCC feels strongly that Truman College parking must be adequately provided for prior to the big dig at Wilson Yard. Otherwise, those 1000+ cars will find their way onto the residential streets of Sheridan Park and Buena Park.
Current plans call for completion of project in 2006. Seems optimistic.
Lakeside Clarendon TIF (46th Ward)
A community meeting was held March 4th at Weiss Hospital. Speakers included Alderman Shiller and members of the Department of Planning and external consultants hired by the city.
The city is proposing a new, small, residential/institutional TIF district. Proposed boundaries include the 3 east-most buildings on the south side of Lakeside and the 3 east-most buildings on the north side of Leland. Two of these buildings are the bankrupt Alzheimer's development situated along Clarendon. Also included is the north half of Arai Middle School's campus park. This TIF would share boundaries with the Wilson Yard TIF, and as such, TIF funds are portable between the two.
The rationale for pursuing this TIF is that several developers have looked at acquiring the Alzheimer buildings from the court-appointed trustee and converting them or razing and replacing them with either residential or institutional uses. Alderman Shiller asserts that none of these deals have gone forward because the asking price is too high.
Lake Side Area Neighbors took a vote at the end of the evening's presentation, and unanimously agreed to NOT SUPPORT the proposed TIF at this time. There was one abstention. It is the block club's position that the court-appointed trustee should not be rewarded with area property tax subsidies for asking a higher price than the market supports. It is also thought that there is little to be lost by waiting for market forces to prevail. The UCC will likely echo the local block club's position.
Crew Bar & Grill (48th Ward)
This 3000 sq ft bar and grill (next to the Green Mill) is currently under construction and expected to open in May/June time frame. UCC has gladly supported issuance of an incidental liquor license.
Annoyance Theater (48th Ward)
Locating to Gunnison Lofts, at Broadway and Gunnison, this 4500 sq ft improv theater and school expects to open in late summer. Theater seating is flexible and will accommodate 90-100 patrons. There will be a bar in the lobby area and UCC has gladly supported issuance of a tavern license and a public place of amusement license.
Lazeez (48th Ward)
Locating to Gunnison Lofts, at Broadway and Gunnison, this 2300 sq ft Indian restaurant expects to open in late summer. UCC has gladly supported issuance of an incidental liquor license.
Cafe G (48th Ward)
Locating to Gunnison Lofts, at Broadway and Gunnison, this 4000 sq ft swanky tapas restaurant expects to open in late summer/early fall. This business is the last of the three 1st floor tenants to sign its lease, and as its plans proceed, UCC will also likely support its application for an incidental liquor license.
Harold's Chicken Shack (46th Ward)
Located at the NE corner of Sheridan and Leland, this planned 5-story residential development will begin selling units in April, and expects to break ground in mid/late summer. The property is within the Lakefront Protection District and the local block club, Lake Side Area Neighbors, has reviewed and approved the design. 10% of the units will be set-aside for the city's affordable homeownership program. Commercial space will be available on the first floor.
Weiss Professional Office Building (46th Ward)
Located at the SE corner of Clarendon and Lakeside, the current Walgreens store is expected to close within the next few weeks. The building will be razed and replaced with mid-rise commercial building. A new Walgreens will be a 1st floor tenant. Rest of space is expected to be occupied by physicians affiliated with Weiss Hospital.
Development Rumors (REPEAT ... rumors at this point)
Uptown Broadway Building, Broadway between Leland and Racine (the beautiful terra cotta building across from Borders) (48th Ward)
This building is reportedly about to change hands. New owners may be affiliated with @properties. This is a National Register landmarked building. Would be rehabbed and re-tenanted. Whoops and Hollers!
V&T Used Car Lot, Broadway at Ainslie, across from Uptown Car Wash (48th Ward)
This property is reportedly about to change hands. Expectations are for residential development above, retail space on 1st floor.
Unique Thrift and Pizza Factory, Sheridan at Sunnyside (46th Ward)
This property is reportedly about to change hands, and an increase in zoning density may be sought. This new construction may have a significant affordable housing component.
Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop, Wilson at Magnolia (46th Ward)
Owner of the Holiday Club is rumored to be considering opening a sandwich shop franchise near Truman College.
Please keep us apprised of other Uptown matters which come to your attention.