News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

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Shop ‘Small Business Saturday’ on 53rd Street

Several 53rd Street businesses will host special events today in recognition of Small Business Saturday.

While Black Friday is the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, Small Business Saturday reminds shoppers that there are great deals to be found at small businesses around the country. American Express started the Saturday observance in 2010, and the South East Chicago Commission is seizing the occasion to promote mid-South Side businesses.

Events in Hyde Park include:

Tea and Cookies at Akira

1539 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

Come celebrate Akira’s 1-year anniversary in Hyde Park!  In the spirit of celebration, Akira will offer buy one, get one half off an entire purchase when customers present an ad or promotional flyer for Small Business Saturday in Hyde Park.  Sexy dresses, denim, jewelry, & handbags from over 200 designer brands and smaller fashion houses line the walls at AKIRA, ensuring that even the most discerning customer won't leave the store empty-handed. Patrons will also receive complimentary tea and cookies at the time of purchase. Shop Akira on Small Business Saturday and enjoy the celebration.

Sip and Shop at Sir and Madame – All Day

1504 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

This will be a social event with sangria and music to enhance the shopping experience. Sir and Madame will feature their winter collection and special discounts to patrons. Sip and Shop will appeal to individuals that appreciate shopping at boutiques and in upscale environments. Individuals will also learn about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local initiative and the take the 365 Pledge to spend $365 in 2014 at a small business.

Wine and Live DJ at Independence – All Day

1506 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

 To celebrate Small Business Day and enhance the shopping experience Independence will have a live DJ and serve complimentary wine while customers shop. Patrons will also receive information about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local 365 Pledge that encourages individuals to spend at least $365 in 2014 at a small business. 

Hyatt Place Small Business Day Happy Hour Jazz Event 5pm – 9pm

5225 South Harper Court Avenue, Chicago IL. 

The Hyatt Place will host a Small Business Day happy hour event with local jazz artist Darwin G. Jackson & Company. Special guest speaker Dwayne Hirsh, Small Business Advocacy Council Board Member and Founder of Business Spotlight Networking will speak about the benefits of shopping local and supporting small businesses. Individuals will also learn about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local initiative and take the 365 Pledge to spend $365 in 2014 at a small business. The Hyatt Place will offer drink specials during happy hour to enrich the evening as we celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Late Night Dancing Chant Restaurant 10pm – 2am

1509 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

Dance the night away at Chant in celebration of Small Business Saturday. Come enjoy “Late Night Dancing” hosted by Rhonda Flower & CoCo.  Party-goers will experience unground reggae, classic hip hop, soul and house music as they dance the night away. During this exciting event individuals will receive information about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local 365 Pledge that encourages people to spend at least $365 in 2014 at a small business. Chant will offer Small Business Saturday drink specials. 

Visit the SECC website for information about Unwrap Chicago and Small Business Saturday events elsewhere on the mid-South Side.

New Fashion Shops in Hyde Park

Black Friday shoppers seeking apparel and fashion accessories need look no farther today than the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Three new fashion boutiques have opened on 53rd Street this fall, adding more shopping options to the growing number of new amenities in Hyde Park. Women’s clothing shop Comfort Me Boutique; urban apparel retailer Sir & Madame, and upscale men’s store Independence all operate temporary or pop-up locations and hope to make their presence in the neighborhood permanent.

“There’s something really cool happening on 53rd street, and we want to be a part of that,” said George Vlagos, owner of the street’s newest pop-up Independence. Vlagos’ other stores, Oak Street Bootmakers and the first Independence, are located on tony Oak Street in downtown Chicago.

Vlagos says his store at 1506 E. 53rd Street features an “Americana aesthetic” and an element of authenticity in everything from the clothing to the décor.

“Everything we have has been made in America and has a history and a story. The lights are 1920’s factory lights from a Chicago manufacturer that we managed to get at auction,” he said in a recent interview, adding that the stores’ clothing represents the same commitment to high quality production. Jeans he was wearing from his store  (his only pair), he says, are “basically indestructible.”

Comfort Me Boutique, at 5241 S. Harper Avenue, also features clothing and products made in America, along with vintage or repurposed furnishings. Bethany Thomas, the main manager of Hyde Park’s newest pop-up, describes the store’s aesthetic and mission as “comfort for the mind, body, and soul” for women in their mid-twenties and up.

Sir & Madame, at 1504 E. 53rd Street, is run by two native Hyde Parkers who brought the retail concept that they've made popular in Ukranian Village home to their original neighborhood.

For Black Friday, Comfort Me is offering the best deals for the earliest shoppers, Sir & Madame has sale prices up to 50% off, and Independence also has attractive sale prices. However, the three pop-ups are not the only places to shop for apparel on 53rd Street. Akira and Villa shoe store are other great new options.

University of Chicago closes on purchase of Harper Court

The University of Chicago has purchased Harper Court, the new 12-story office tower and retail complex at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, from developers Harper Court Partners.

Harper Court officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 8, after a multi-year project designed to create a new hub for consumer amenities and economic opportunities in Hyde Park. The project grew out of community visioning workshops held in 2008, which prompted the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago to contribute land and other resources toward the redevelopment. The University and the city selected Harper Court Partners as the private developers.

The contract with the developer included an option for the University to acquire property that is part of Phase I of the project. The deal, which includes the 150,000-square-foot office tower, more than 75,000 square feet of retail, and two parking garages, as well as rights to land for Phase II, closed Nov. 14. The new Hyatt Place Hotel adjacent to Harper Court is not part of the transaction.

University officials said that by taking ownership at this point, the University can help guide the future of the complex and guarantee that it continues to support a mix of amenities that complement existing businesses in the 53rd Street corridor and reflect the kinds of retail options local residents want. From the project’s beginning, the University has worked with the developer to ensure that Harper Court includes a mix of national, Chicago-based, and locally owned businesses, and that those businesses include South Side residents in their hiring plans. Additionally, more than 28 percent of the qualified project costs were engaged with minority- and women-owned businesses.

James Hennessy, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University, said the University does not intend to own the property permanently, and that it will begin a search for the most appropriate owner for the long-term. The University will pay the same property taxes that any private owner would, contributing money back into the 53rd Street TIF district.

“Harper Court has already had a powerful catalytic effect on the neighborhood, spurring the creation of new jobs and new businesses along the 53rd Street corridor. It will continue to be an important component of broader efforts to make 53rd Street a vibrant neighborhood center, and the University is committed to ensuring that it remains a long-term asset to Hyde Park,” Hennessy said.

 

Ridership of UChicago's 53rd Street Shuttle Rising

In its second week of operation, the new shuttle service between 53rd Street and the University of Chicago campus is starting to gain ridership, according to the University's Transportation & Parking Services. The shuttle, which launched on Nov. 4, is free for UChicago students, faculty, and staff and for staff at University of Chicago Medicine.

Awareness and ridership are expected to increase in the coming weeks as more University staff move into the Harper Court office tower at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue. Read about the shuttle service and routes on the University's news site.

Grand Opening of Harper Court Nov. 8

Harper Court Partners, the developers of Harper Court, will host two special events tomorrow to celebrate the grand opening of Harper Court, the 518,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the corner of E. 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue in Hyde Park.

At 10 a.m. on November 8, the developer will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Andy Alper as guests. Other participants will include 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns and representatives of the Hyatt Place hotel, along with financier of the project.

At 5:30 p.m., the celebration will resume with a free concert featuring Grammy Award-winning artist Estelle, local DJ Dave Henry, and students from Kenwood Academy High School. The concert is free and open to the public.

In additon to the Hyatt Place, Harper Court anchors include the University of Chicago, which will occupy the 12-story office tower, LA Fitness. Other tenants in the development include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ulta Cosmetics, Villa, Starbucks, AT&T, Porkchop, Ja'Grill and Red Mango.

Harper Court is a key component of a broader effort to revitalize 53rd Street that has brought several new businesses to Hyde Park since 2011. Harper Court sits across the street from a renovated building that houses Akira, CorePower Yoga, and the soon-to-open Promontory restaurant. To the west of Harper Court is the renovated Harper Theater, which opened earlier this year, and A10, the newest restaurant by award-winning chef Matthias Merges.

 

 

Matthias Merges' A10 restaurant open today

A new fine dining experience has come to 53rd Street. A10, acclaimed chef Matthias Merges' newest restaurant featuring European cuisine, officially opened for business today at 1462 E. 53rd Street.

The opening of the restaurant is part of a larger, ongoing effort to redevelop the 53rd Street commercial corridor and bring more amenities to Hyde Park. A10 is located just south of Harper Theater and across the street from the recently opened Hyatt Place hotel. The restaurant will be open Tuesdays through Sundays.

Read more about the restaurant and see pictures of the inside in this post from the Eater blog: http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/11/04/gaze-inside-a10-opening-tom...

 

Innovation Hub Coming to 53rd Street

The University of Chicago announced today that it plans to open a new center for business creation in two buildings at the intersection of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue.

The Chicago Innovation Exchange will promote collaborations among different parts and affiliates of the University and will incubate and support new business ventures by entrepreneurs within and outside the University.

Read more about it on the UChicago website.

Hyatt Place hotel now open in Hyde Park

The new Hyatt Place hotel that is part of the Harper Court redevelopment opened for business today, marking the first opening of a newly constructed hotel in Hyde Park in about five decades, Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Olympia Hotel Management announced.

The 131-room hotel, officially named Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center, will host an open house with free food and drinks from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow (September 18) for anyone interested in seeing the inside of the hotel.

Read more about the hotel and what it will bring to Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods.

First retailers, public parking open at Harper Court

Retail activity is now underway at the new Harper Court, with athletic shoe retailer Villa and the AT&T store opening quietly over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Villa, at 5230 S. Lake Park Avenue, had a soft opening Friday evening and will hold a grand opening celebration September 6, beginning at 9 a.m. AT&T opened at Harper Court on Sunday. Starbucks, which is relocating from 1500 E. 53rd Street, is expected to open later this week, according to developer Harper Court Partners.

To accommodate retail customers, Harper Court also opened the second floor of its public parking garage over the weekend.  The garage, which is accessible from Lake Park Avenue, will re-open this week, making about 150 new parking spaces available for public use. The third floor of the parking garage, which has an additional 75 spaces, will open at a later date. The building also will include underground parking for the office tower and the Hyatt Place hotel.

Harper Court’s surface parking lot on Harper Avenue, just north of 53rd Street, opened earlier this summer. The development’s combined lots offer more than 400 parking spaces, including about 300 public spaces. Public parking rates, which are the same as city meters for two hours or less, are:

0-30m            $2

30m-2h          $4

2-4h                $10

4-6h                $12

6-12h             $15

12-24h           $32

Other businesses coming to Harper Court include LA Fitness, ULTA Beauty, Ja’Grill, Park Tavern, Porkchop, Red Mango, Native Foods Café, and Chipotle.

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.