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Hyde Park Development Project Aims to Attract Retail, Provide Jobs

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). Photo/AP

A new retail/residential development project in Hyde Park won approval Thursday, Aug. 19,  from the Chicago Plan Commission. The mixed-use property along South Harper Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard will contain 179 condominium units in two buildings, a two-level retail center and a 400-spot parking garage. City officials hope developing the area will draw new retailers to the South Side neighborhood home to the University of Chicago.

“The current shopping center is 50 years old, maybe more than that,” said  Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). “Its not particularly attractive. This is a development that will hold the street a little better and bring in some new retail, which I think will be well-received.”

Aside from bringing in new stores, the $100 million project will add jobs and housing.

“It will probably come in two stages,” said Antheus Capital partner Eli Ungar of providing jobs. Ungar’s company is financing the project and owns 80 buildings in Hyde Park. “First of all, the construction itself (will provide jobs), and this at a time when there aren’t a lot of construction projects getting going. (This will create) hundreds of jobs. And whoever ends up in those facilities will create a lot of long-time jobs.”

The pre-development and construction will be handled by Silliman Group, LLC.

“The first residential tower will be 22 floors total, with two floors for retail. The mid-rise tower will be nine floors,” said Peter Cassel, director of the Silliman Group.

One to three bedroom condos are planned for the residential space, and according to Ungar, “there is an affordable housing component to our project. Our hope is it will be an attractive option for a broad range of buyers.”

“Fifteen percent will be affordable housing. The for sale price will be established by the market terms, and the income level of the buyer,” said Cassel.

A mix of large and small retailers will be approached.

“There are a number of missing retailers in Hyde Park,” Ungar said. “There is a shortage of apparel stores and house-ware stores. I don’t want a monolithic power center where you get three big national retailers. I’d be much happier with a mix of local retailers and national retailers.”

Ungar declined to comment on which stores had been approached.

Hyde Park residents—in particular senior citizens—are taking to the project.

“There is lots of excitement,” said Jennifer Bosch, executive director of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. “I have attended senior meetings, and they feel their needs are being met. The design elements are addressing easily accessible stores.”

The Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the project, which now goes to the Chicago City Council Zoning Committee for consideration. The project must be approved by the full city council before construction can begin.

“The drawings will take six months,” said Cassel. “Construction will start in 18 to 24 months.”

The land currently contains an Original House of Pancakes and Village Foods. A drive-thru will be installed so trucks making deliveries to Village Foods will not impede traffic.

Brandon Campbell and Charmaine Little contributed to this story.

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