News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

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192 CTA bus among new additions to 53rd Street

As of two days ago, there is a new option for getting to 53rd Street from downtown Chicago: CTA bus route 192.

The 192 bus, also called the University of Chicago Hospitals Express, has added a southbound stop for morning riders at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, right next to Akira, CorePower Yoga, and the soon-to-open Promontory. The bus stop is also across the street from the new Harper Court office tower.

The 192 starts at the Ogilvie Metra station and previously ran express from Roosevelt Road and State Street to 59th and Kimbark, before arriving at Goldblatt Pavilion on the UChicago hospital campus.  While the change adds a stop to the morning commute, regular riders need not fear delays. The bus will run express between 53rd and 59th/Kimbark.

For the northbound return commute, the 192 will not stop on 53rd Street. Riders who get off on 53rd Street in the morning, can take either the 28 or 6 route back downtown from Lake Park. The 192 evening bus from the University campus will to start at Goldblatt Pavilion, turn right onto Cottage Grove, stop at 57th Street, proceed to 55th Street, and turn west into the park before continuing the route it used before.

A note for University affiliates: While the new morning route will expand your transport options, the 192 will continue to be a full-fare route.

Updated CTA signage that includes the new stop on 53rd Street is expected to go up this week. The CTA website has more information about changes in the route service.

Hyde Park Natives Set to Open Sir & Madame Pop-up Next Month

Hyde Park natives Autumn and Brian Merritt are coming home, and they’re bringing a new option for apparel shopping with them—at least temporarily. The husband and wife team are owners of Sir & Madame, the upscale Ukrainian Village boutique that offers clothing and accessories for the “urban sophisticate.”

The Merritts are set to open a second location of Sir & Madame in Hyde Park in mid-September. The six-month pop-up store will be located at 1504 East 53rd Street, in a space formerly occupied by Apartment Finders.

To help introduce Hyde Parkers to the store, Autumn recently answered a few questions about the couple's start in retail and their return to 53rd Street.

How did the first Sir & Madame come to be?

Autumn: Two months after Brian and I got married, we decided to go into business together. We opened Solemates, a consignment and sneaker store, and we found our niche with an established set of customers and relationships. That was our ‘in’. Two and a half years into that, we wanted to push forward with a long-lasting brand. That brought us into Ukrainian Village because of the feel of the neighborhood. The opportunity was right for us, and seven years later everything is working out.

Ukrainian Village was the right place then. What makes Hyde Park right for this move?

Autumn: We are Hyde Parkers. Brian and I were both raised in Hyde Park. We went to school at Ray Elementary, where we met. We both went to Kenwood Academy for high school. My parents still live in Hyde Park. My kids even went to daycare in Hyde Park. We live closer to our first Sir & Madame store now, but we consider Hyde Park to be our community.

Do you think this pop-up could turn into a permanent expansion?

Autumn: Yes, that's definitely an option. We're in a great position right now to come to Hyde Park when everything is booming. It's great to witness the growth knowing how it used to be years back. It's amazing and hopefully everything works out, so that we can stay in Hyde Park. We definitely see Hyde Park as a viable market, and I think everyone here can appreciate well-made clothes and accessories.

Do you think your store has the capacity to bring in UChicago students as well as lifelong Hyde Parkers like you and Brian?

Autumn: We certainly hope for both demographics. The store in the Ukrainian Village brings everyone together. We can't picture anything less than that for Hyde Park. We have strong ties with everyone from the University to the high schools in the area.

Do you envision then hiring Hyde Parkers for the store here?

Autumn: Yes. We're all about Hyde Park. We're back on the block.  I’m 30 and Brian is 32. We grew up walking 53rd Street. When we were teenagers, it was the place to be—where all the cool people were. All of that was sort of lost until now, and we want to be a part of bringing that back.

Deck going up for The Promontory

Construction is underway for a second-story deck that will be part of The Promontory, the new restaurant, bar, and concert venue coming to 1539 E. 53rd Street.

Crews recently completed pouring the concrete slab for the deck. Wooden beams currently erected at the site will support this phase of the deck installation and will be removed afterward. Crews also are working on a parking lot for the building, which also houses Akira and CorePower Yoga.

The Promontory, a partnership between Longman & Eagle operators Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, is expected to open in the coming months.

Mesa to begin removing Mobil gas tanks Aug. 13

Mesa Development, the developer for the Vue53 project, today announced that it plans to begin work to remove the underground gas storage tanks from the Mobil site on Aug. 13, 2013. The Mobil station currently located on the site where Vue53 will be built is set to close on August 12.

The tank removal work will be done by a licensed contractor, under the supervision of an environmental engineering firm and an inspector from the city of Chicago. Mesa said it expects minimal impact to neighbors of the property, at 1330 E. 53rd Street. Construction of Vue53 would begin in early 2014.

Mesa also worked with the South East Chicago Commission to provide a list of nearby gas stations and car wash locations for customers of the Mobil station.

View Mesa’s full press release below.

Crowds Turn Out for Family Stone, Funkadesi, and Fun on 53rd Street

The 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival drew about 30,000 people to 53rd Street on July 20 and 21 for two days of live performances, food and fun.

Entertainment included headlining bands The Family Stone and Funkadesi, along with local favorites and startups such as Chicago Catz, Jemiah on Fire, Andrea McNeal, and Terisa Griffin. Festivalgoers enjoyed the music while dancing in the street, relaxing in the park, or enjoying a meal at outdoor tables along the street.

Here are a few photos from Sunday, July 21.

 

Comfort Me Boutique pop-up shop coming to Hyde Park

Chicago-based retailer Comfort Me Boutique is set to open a temporary location on 53rd Street on August 2. The pop-up store will be located at 5241 S. Harper Avenue.

Comfort Me Boutique, which operates a store in Lincoln Park, sells comfortable and stylish women's clothing, jewelry, gifts, and vintage and new furnishings for the home. If the temporary location is successful, it could eventually become long-term, said Alyssa Thomas, a co-owner of the store.

"We are so excited to be a part of Hyde Park and think that we can provide a unique shopping experience," Thomas said in a press release. "We're hopeful that the Hyde Park community will appreciate the fact that we're a family-owned business that supports local designers and carries lines that are made in the U.S."

The store will hold a grand opening event, with refreshments and live music, on August 10, from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

The Comfort Me Boutique – Hyde Park will be located across the street from the Harper Theater and Kilwins, and next to the new Hyatt Place hotel that is set top open this fall.

The retailer joins more than a dozen new businesses opened or opening along the 53rd Street corridor since 2011, complementing the existing businesses in the neighborhood. The strong growth in retail, restaurant and entertainment options in Hyde Park is the result of a joint effort among the community, the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago to bring new amenities and economic vitality to Hyde Park, which serves as a commercial hub for the South Side as well as a destination for visitors from around Chicago and the nation.

 

 

 

53rd Street businesses offer specials for this weekend’s music festival

As fans of the Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival prepare to enjoy this year’s event, several businesses along 53rd Street are preparing specials to make the weekend more enjoyable.

Ice cream and candy retailer Kilwins plans to give away 1,000 single scoops of Hyde Park Mud ice cream and free fudge samples to the first 500 customers on each festival day, Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21.

“This is our way of celebrating Hyde Park and welcoming the community to our store,” said Kilwin’s Hyde Park owner Jackie Jackson.

Other local restaurants offering discounts and specials include Boston Market, Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen, and Chant. Here is a sampling of the deals:  

Boston Market: Buy any meal with a soft drink and get your second meal free.

Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen: 10% off when you mention the Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival

Chant: Multiple menu specials and $7 mixed drinks; the David Kinney Band will play from 9 p.m. - midnight

Nathan’s Famous: Jerk Chicken with rice and beans and a side of plantain’s for $5.50

PePe’s: 5 Beef or Chicken Tacos for $7.99; 5 Steak Tacos for $8.99; 2 Beef or Chicken Tacos with fries for $4.35; 3 Beef or Chicken Tacos with fries for $6.05

Pockets: Caesar Salad for $5.00; Frozen Yogurt with three toppings for $3.49

Non-food businesses will offer enticements too. Hyde Park Bank plans to display a brand new Mini Cooper S Convertible and offer a chance to win a 2-year lease on the car as part of an ongoing promotion.

There will also be plenty of other arts and entertainment to go along with the retail specials and on-stage musical performances. Festival attendees can watch local artists create a mural and try their hand at winning an array of prizes from carnival games.

 

 

The Family Stone to Headline 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival, July 20 and 21

The Family Stone, whose hits include 1960s' and '70s' tunes “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “I Want to Take You Higher,” will headline the 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival, a yearly event filled with music, food, and fun on 53rd Street.

The fourth annual music festival will be held on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, and will welcome both first-time and returning attractions.

“The Summer Music Festival has come to be known for its celebration of iconic music and performers as well as its celebration of the rich culture of the South Side of Chicago,” said Wendy Williams, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission, which organizes the festival on behalf of the Hyde Park Vitality Committee. “This year, we again look forward to bringing music lovers in Hyde Park a great mix of performers whose styles include soul, funk, reggae, and R&B.”

Saturday’s lineup will feature Chicago’s very own Funkadesi, known for its diverse band members and award-winning musical performances, along with Rockin' Johnny Blues Band. On Sunday, the Chicago Cats and Terisa Griffin will return to the stage before The Family Stone's evening concert.

Great music is not all this festival will offer—plenty of delicious food and an assortment of merchandise from local vendors will be available.

“Past festivals have brought tens of thousands of people to Hyde Park’s main commercial corridor, and this year’s attendees will find that the neighborhood has even more to offer, with several new businesses now open or coming soon on the street,” said Wallace Goode, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

Since 2011, more than 20 new businesses have opened or announced plans to open on 53rd Street. Read more about places to taste, shop, and play on 53rd Street.

The festival will be held on 53rd Street between Harper and Kimbark Avenues, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is open to the public, with a $5 requested donation. A limited amount of VIP seating is available at Saturday and Sunday evening concerts for $50 per seat. To reserve a spot online visit http://www.secc-chicago.org/chp2013/vip-seating.

The Celebrate Hyde Park series is sponsored by the Hyde Park Vitality Committee, a partnership between the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the South East Chicago Commission, with additional support from the Chicago Park District-Nichols Park. 

For more information, visit http://www.celebratehydepark.org/ or text CHP to 72727 for festival update.

Celebrate the 4th on 53rd

The Nichols Park Advisory Council, South East Chicago Commission, and Chicago Park District are inviting members of the Hyde Park-Kenwood community to attend the annual 4th on 53rd Street parade and picnic.

The parade will assemble at 10:30 a.m., at 54th Street and Old Lake Park, with festivities going until 3 p.m. For more information, view the flyer below.

A look inside the new hotel

Construction crews at the Hyatt Place hotel site are working toward a fall opening, and a model room already has been completed.

The model room on the second floor of the six-story hotel includes two queen beds; the 131-room Hyatt Place will also include king beds, “boardroom suites,” and wheelchair-accessible guestrooms. Each room will include a 42-inch flat panel HDTV, a small refrigerator, and single-serve coffee maker.

The hotel under construction at 5225 S. Harper Avenue will feature free wi-fi throughout, a 24-hour fitness center, an indoor pool, and meeting space and packages.

Maurese Nelson, the hotel’s sales director, said the hotel has been taking reservations over the phone (773-752-5300) and “there are over 200 confirmed room nights on the books.”

The Hyatt Place is part of the Harper Court development and sits just east of the Harper Court office tower and is across the street from Harper Theater.

Vue53 passes city process

The Chicago City Council today voted to approve Mesa Development’s proposed project to redevelop the site at 1330 E. 53rd Street.

The project, called Vue53, would replace a Mobil gas station and car wash on the site with a building that would include 267 upscale rental apartments, up to six new retailers, and 230 parking spaces. It is also expected to create 300 new construction jobs and $7.7 million in additional tax revenues, while requiring no taxpayer dollars or public subsidy to build.

The City Council vote on the planned development follows a June 3 decision by the Chicago Zoning Committee to approve a zoning change for the site and the project’s May 16 approval by the Chicago Plan Commission. The City Council decision will become effective after it is read into the minutes at next month’s council meeting.

“We are pleased that Vue53 has taken another step toward becoming a reality, thanks largely to the many community members who support the project,” said James Hanson, a principal with Mesa Development. “We look forward to delivering a world-class, transit-oriented, mixed-use development to Hyde Park.”

CorePower Yoga opens today with free yoga

CorePower Yoga’s new Hyde Park studio opens for business today and is offering one free week of unlimited yoga to all new students.

The yoga studio is located at 1539 E. 53rd Street, on the second floor of the building, above the Akira boutique. CorePower will offer three different kinds of yoga classes as well as all the accessories needed to practice the art. For more information, including class schedules, pricing and the one-free-week coupon, visit the CorePower Yoga website.

Vue53 passes Plan Commission, headed to Zoning Committee

At its May 16 meeting, the Chicago Plan Commission approved Mesa Development’s project to redevelop 1330 E. 53rd Street—bringing the 13-story mixed-use building a step closer to reality. Mesa will next need to present the project to the city of Chicago’s Zoning Committee in early June.

The project, called Vue53, would include 267 rental apartments, up to six ground-floor retailers, and 230 indoor parking spaces. It would replace the Mobil gas station and car wash currently on the site. James Hanson, a principal for Chicago-based Mesa, said the firm has been able to build broad support for the project by including community benefits such as affordable housing, jobs for local residents, and additional revenues for the community while requiring no public tax dollars to build.

All but one member of the Plan Commission voted in favor of the Vue53 proposal, and more people turned out to support the project than to oppose it. Read the Hyde Park Herald’s account of the Plan Commission meeting.

Revitalized 53rd Street energizes community

The University of Chicago says redevelopment efforts “are making 53rd Street a more lively retail district” and that residents and businesses are benefitting from Hyde Park’s growth as a destination for dining, shopping and fun. Laura Milani Alessio writes:

The redevelopment of Harper Theater and nearby storefronts is part of the University of Chicago’s effort to partner with local businesses, residents, and elected officials to spur economic development along 53rd Street, a vital commercial corridor for Hyde Park. Chicago businesses increasingly see 53rd Street as a prime opportunity for growth, creating a sense of momentum that is drawing new ventures and customers to the area. The developments are creating new entertainment, dining, and retail options for the entire community—along with an estimated 1,320 new jobs—while building on the neighborhood’s appeal for UChicago students and faculty.

Read the full story and view new photos of 53rd Street here.

Friends Bryant Mclemore-Smith (left) and Makali Robinson (holding his daughter Nila) chat with Robinson's mother-in-law Patricia Jordan at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue in Hyde Park. (Photo by Rob Kozloff)

Mesa presents revised plan to TIF Advisory Council

Mesa Development, LLC, the Chicago-based firm that is leading redevelopment of the site at 1330 E. 53rd Street, presented revised plans for its Vue53 project at last night’s 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council meeting at Kenwood Academy. Vue53 would replace a Mobil gas station and car wash currently on the site.

Mesa first presented plans for a mixed-use building with upscale rental housing and ground-floor retail at the TIF Council meeting in January this year. James Hanson, a principal with Mesa, said the firm adjusted its plans based on community feedback from that meeting and other discussions with local organizations and individual community members.

Among the changes made to the project, Mesa said it increased the amount of affordable housing that would be available, reduced the building height from 14 to 13 floors, added residential units on the second and third floors to screen parking, increased the number of parking spaces from 218 to 230, and moved the building’s loading dock away from Kenwood Avenue to reduce impact on residences on that street.

Hanson noted that Mesa engaged an independent third-party traffic consultancy, KLOA, to determine the impact the project would have on traffic and parking in the area. KLOA projected the impact would be minimal. Because the traffic study was conducted before Mesa increased the parking spaces from 218 to 230, Hanson explained that the ratio of parking spaces to rental units in the building would be even higher than referenced in the report. Read the traffic and parking study here.

Mesa also distributed a set of Frequently Asked Questions to address some of the most common questions the firm has heard from members of the community. For more information, view the FAQs and Mesa’s full presentation.

Note: To clarify points made at the TIF meeting, Mesa Development revised questions 8 and 14 in the Frequently Asked Questions.