News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Hyde Park

Construction Update

A May 31 post reported the beginning of demolition of the façade of the former Borders building. Now, the exterior walls of the building have been largely removed, and construction of the new façade is scheduled to begin next week.

The building at 1539 E. 53rd Street will house a flagship store of Chicago-based fashion retailer Akira. Akira is expected to open this fall, bringing a new option for women’s clothing, accessories and shoes to Hyde Park.

Clarke's restaurant opens Feb. 13 in Hyde Park

Clarke’s 24-hour restaurant will open this Monday starting at 8 a.m. During its opening day, Clarke’s will offer a pre-Valentine’s Day special to include a 10 percent discount for each total bill until midnight.

Located at 1451 E. 53rd St., the menu choices include a variety of items such as omelets, pancakes, stir-fry dishes, sandwiches and a host of other food selections.

UChicago officials brought the all-night eatery to Hyde Park’s key commercial corridor to address the interests of students and the community for more late-night amenities.

“As we continue to work closely with the community, the City and Alderman Will Burns to strengthen our ongoing revitalization efforts, we believe adding the right mix of restaurants and retail businesses will bring added value to Hyde Park that residents have been asking for over the past several years,” said James Hennessy, director of Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University.

Established in 1986, Clarke’s has existing locations in Lincoln Park, Evanston, Lakeview and Bucktown.

“We are very proud to make Hyde Park our new home for Clarke’s as a key destination on the South Side of Chicago,” said Steve Dionysopoulos, co-owner of Clarke’s. “With the rapid growth in an important business area along 53rd Street, we believe that our 24-hour restaurant will meet the needs of both students and the community at large. We are very excited to be a part of the Hyde Park community.”

Take a sneak peek inside below.

Akira clothing and shoes to open flagship on 53rd Street

The University of Chicago announced today it’s bringing local-based Akira apparel and shoes to 53rd Street in the former Borders building. Akira officials said the Hyde Park site is a prime location for its new flagship store.

“We are delighted to create a unique, flagship store in the heart of Hyde Park to offer women’s clothing and stylish footwear to add to customers’ fashion sense,” said Eric Hsueh, co-owner of Akira. “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 grand opening is planned for this fall.

Get the rest of the story here:

Akira owners Eric Hsueh, Erikka Wang, and Jon Cotay (left to right).

Akira in Bucktown location

Clarke's nearing completion

The soon-to-be opened Clarke’s restaurant is in its final stages of construction. The new exterior façade, storefront windows and signage have been added to the 24-hour eatery. In the next few weeks, architectural metal screening will be installed on the brick, which will help complete the new look.

Once the warmer temperatures settle in, the entire glass storefront of Clarke’s will open to the street to complement the outdoor seating.

News about the grand opening is expected next month.

Oktoberfest a Hit

More than 5,000 people packed 53rd Street and Nichols Park during the second annual Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest. Several area food, jewelry, clothing and a host of additional vendors were on hand to greet the crowd and introduce their products to festival visitors.

"We are excited about the continued outpouring of support from the entire community as we continue to strengthen our Celebrate Hyde Park festivals," said Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director of the South East Chicago Commission. "We are already beginning to prepare for next summer's huge event and welcome input from the community, civic organizations and leaders to help us make our festival series a major destination for the South Side of Chicago."

Celebrate Hyde Park events are a series of festivals that occur throughout the year to showcase the Hyde Park community. The events are designed to bring people of all ages to 53rd Street and Nichols Park to enjoy a wide variety of entertainment, products and food from the many local shops, restaurants and musical talent in the community.

The Celebrate Hyde Park festival 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, the South East Chicago Commission and various other area organizations.

Anyone interested in volunteering for next year’s Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival can call the South East Chicago Commission at 773.324.6926. Ideas to enhance the festival experience are also welcomed.

Work begins on Clarke's 24-hour restaurant

Construction has begun on the home of the soon-to-be Clarke’s restaurant. The building for the new 24-hour eatery, located next to T-Mobile at 1451 E. 53rd St., will have a new façade, signage and storefront glass that opens to the street.

Clarke’s is aiming to open in January 2012. Check back for more updates soon.

Two Days of Free Jazz in Hyde Park

If you love jazz, then the Hyde Park Jazz Festival is designed with you in mind. Now in its 5th year, the fest has expanded to two days on Sept. 24 - 25 and will showcase more than 150 musicians in 13 venues on 15 different stages throughout the neighborhood. For those interested in preferred seating at most indoor venues, Jazz Passes are available for purchase.

On the eve of Saturday Sept. 24, 53rd Street will become the home to two acts at the Hyde Park Bank. Starting at 6 p.m., saxophonist and composer Adam Kinner will perform along with drummer Marc Riordan and bassist Daniel Thatcher. At 7:30 p.m., Diane Ellis and The Jazzy Ladies will take the stage.

Find out more information about the schedule, Jazz Passes and volunteering. A free shuttle bus is also available.

Image courtesy of Michelle Olson, 2008

Harper Court Conference & Job Fair

Harper Court Partners, LLC, the team that is redeveloping Harper Court, is hosting a conference for minority- and women-owned businesses and local contractors next Thursday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

The Harper Court Opportunity Conference, held at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., is free and open to contractors or suppliers interested in opportunities associated with the project. Alderman Will Burns will provide opening remarks at 9:30 a.m.

On Sept. 21, Harper Court Partners, LLC will host a Local Union Job Fair. All attendees must have a union card. The job fair will be held from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the Hyde Park Art Center, with Alderman Burns speaking at 9:30 a.m.

“We encourage minority- and women-owned businesses as well as local contractors, suppliers and union workers to participate in these events,” said Chris Dillion, a partner with Harper Court, LLC. “This is an exciting project that is poised to stimulate economic growth in the Mid-South communities and the South Side of Chicago."



Five Guys Draws Crowd

Hundreds flocked to Five Guys on 53rd Street during its opening day to check out the popular burgers and fries joint.

“I kept watching the progress of the building and began to get really excited,” said Kristena Lucky-Bloom, who hung out in the new seating area with her two-year-old-dog Bella. “It’s absolutely beautiful. My husband and I wanted to come out to get a bite to eat at Five Guys today and we’re glad to actually see the changes taking place in Hyde Park.”

Five Guys Opening This Monday

Save the date for Monday, Sept.  5 when Five Guys will open in Hyde Park. Starting at 11 a.m., hamburger lovers are invited to visit the popular restaurant. The tentative daily hours are 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. seven days a week.

“We are very excited to see this project come full circle as we continue our revitalization efforts along the 53rd Street corridor with key tenants ranging in expertise from food to retail and much more,” said James Hennessy, Director of Commercial Real Estate at the University of Chicago.

Officials said minor touches on other parts of the building, such as completing the awnings and some of the terra cotta work will take place next week, but will not impact Five Guys.


Progress Continues For Five Guys

With new signage and the scaffolding recently removed from the soon-to-be home for the first-ever Five Guys restaurant in Hyde Park, the renovation is nearing completion. Officials said the project scope of the University-owned office and theater buildings at 53rd and Harper Avenue includes façade work, tuck-pointing and a complete interior rehab.

A tentative opening date is scheduled for next month.

Take a look below.

Five Guys

LA Fitness & University of Chicago Join Harper Court As Anchor Tenants

Harper Court Partners, LLC recently announced that LA Fitness and the University of Chicago will become anchor tenants in the new Harper Court. Harper Court is expected to debut in 2013. LA Fitness will occupy 31,500 square feet on the third floor with a 1,360 square foot first floor lobby. The University of Chicago will occupy 150,000 square feet of office space. 

Officials said negotiations are currently taking place with a variety of restaurants, entertainment venues and retailers to become ground floor tenants.

Learn more here.

Harper Courter

Thousands Party at Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival

More than 40,000 people came out to support the second annual Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival featuring Chicago favorite Roy Ayers and the '70s hip band WAR. Despite warm and humid temperatures, area residents and friends flocked to 53rd Street to hang out, enjoy the various music guests and wide variety of vendors.

This year, the fest was held over two days and received a groundswell of support from the community. Morning Anchor Dawn Hasbrouck of Fox News Chicago, a native South Sider, addressed the crowd Sunday afternoon and said the festivals have “helped to re-energize Hyde Park as a serious destination for foodies and entertainment.” She added “the festivals have also been a jumping point to bring people back to the South Side.”

53rd street to host july 25 music festival

Come check out this Sunday’s “Celebrate Hyde Park” music festival, which runs from noon until 9 p.m. on 53rd Street, between Lake Park Avenue and Blackstone Avenue.

Headlining the free, inaugural event will be legendary ’70s Afro-Cuban band “War.” You know their songs, especially “Low Rider” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”

“They are icons from the ’70s,” said Carl McKenzie, president of Artworks Chicago. “The music kind of speaks for itself.”

A number of other local artists will perform, including jazz musician Ray Silkman and Parker in the Park, the Natural Science Musical.

The celebration also will include food, family activities and art displays, including handmade jewelry from local vendors. Neighborhood food vendors will include Chant and the Hidden Pearl Café.

In order to accommodate the expected crowd, 53rd Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Lake Park to Blackstone on both Saturday (a closing time has yet to be determined) and Sunday.

For more information, please contact Wendy Williams at the South East Chicago Commission at 773-324-6926 or Carl McKenzie of Artworks Chicago at 312-642-4907.

In Development: Revitalizing 53rd Street

Check out a recent article and video about the ongoing efforts to make 53rd street a center of neighborhood life by deepening community involvement in envisioning the prospective hub of retail and residential activities. Here's a taste:

From Little Black Pearl to the Hyde Park Art Center, the DuSable Museum to the Midwestern White House, Hyde Park is riding a wave of cultural and intellectual energy. At the same time, the famously diverse neighborhood with a small-town feel continues to struggle to find commercial momentum and the right mix of amenities for its residents.