News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

James Hennessy

Free two-hour parking at Harper Court returns for a third year

The “Happy Hyde Parking” holiday season promotion at the Harper Court parking garage has returned for a third consecutive year.

The promotion began with Black Friday on November 25, and will continue through Saturday, December 31. Shoppers receive two hours of free parking when they park at the 200-space garage, accessed on the west side of Lake Park Avenue, just north of 53rd Street. Regular parking rates will apply after the initial two free hours. No validation or coupon is needed.

The University of Chicago is providing the benefit in coordination with parking operator LAZ Parking as an added convenience for shoppers visiting Hyde Park businesses as well as attending neighborhood holiday events.

“With the upcoming Hyde Park Holly-Day event on December 10, as well as the many shopping and dining options in Harper Court and on 53rd Street,  the Happy Hyde Parking promotion makes it easier for everyone to enjoy all that the neighborhood has to offer this holiday season,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University.

53rd Street Hosts First-Ever CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival November 18-20

For the weekend of November 18-20, 2016, Hyde Park’s 53rd Street area will host the CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival, as mentioned on the event website, “…a three-day, multi-sited arts festival that combines visual + performing art, designed objects, film, music, fashion and literary culture.”

Developed by Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room located at 1506 E. 53rd Street, in partnership with the University of Chicago Commercial Real Estate Operations (CREO) group, the free festival “…provides the opportunity to explore and engage with cutting-edge contemporary art and design by some of Chicago’s leading artists, designers, curators and art institutions.”

“Based on the success of Eric Williams’ Downtown Hyde Park/Silver Room Block Party on 53rd Street this July, we are excited to collaborate on this special cultural event for the community, highlighting the strength of the Hyde Park arts community as well as the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University.

“We have nearly 100 of the city’s finest artists confirmed to participate in CONNECT, including graphic designers, painters, photographers, installation artists, furniture designers, musicians, and more,” said Eric Williams, creator of the event. “This is a great opportunity to showcase Hyde Park and celebrate all forms of art.”

Exhibition sites include the Collaboration Gallery at 1538 E. 53rd Street (near Starbucks), featuring artists and South Side institutions; the Community Gallery at 1520 S. Harper Court (near Native Foods), with “Permanent Record: Chicago Hip Hop Kulture;” the Collective Gallery at 1504 E. 53rd Street (between Modern Cooperative and The Silver Room), highlighting local and emerging artists; and the Creation Gallery at 1465 E. 53rd Street (near Rajun Cajun), with designed objects from fashion to furniture. Additional exhibition venues include the Harper Theater at 5238 S. Harper Avenue, showing the film “Shake the Dust,” produced by Nasir “Nas” Jones, documenting the transformative power of hip hop in Colombia, Cambodia, Uganda, and Yemen; Sir & Madame at 5225 S. Harper Court; The Silver Room at 1506 E. 53rd Street; Modern Cooperative at 1500 E. 53rd Street; A10 Hyde Park at 1462 E. 53rd Street; and Jojayden at 1457 E. 53rd Street.

Local artists are invited to submit their works for possible exhibition by Sunday, November 13. Artists may submit up to five pieces of art from two series of artworks; one published and one unpublished in categories including watercolor, charcoal, photography, graffiti, illustration, graphic design, collage, sculpture, or multimedia. Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of CONNECT Hyde Park curators, and selected artists will be notified via email by Tuesday, November 15, with artwork needed by Thursday, November 17 at the designated gallery space.

The event is garnering local press in the Hyde Park Herald, DNA Chicago, and was named by Time Out Chicago as one of the “9 Art Gallery Exhibitions to See in November.”

Festival hours are Friday, November 18, from 5-10 pm; Saturday, November 19, from 12-10 pm; and Sunday, November 20, from 12-5 pm. There will be an after party on opening night at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, from 10 pm -2 am, featuring jazz great, Kahil El-Zabar, with additional performers to be announced.

Parking is free in the Harper Court garage (entry on South Lake Park Avenue just south of McDonald's) from 5 pm on Friday, November 18 through 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 20 for the duration of the CONNECT event.  Parkers are instructed to pull into the garage as normal, pull a ticket, and as long as they enter and exit between those time periods, it will register as $0 being owed when they show the ticket at exit.

For more information, visit the event website and Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Monthly “First Thursday” Event Will Begin in Hyde Park on April 7

On April 7, the Hyde Park Vitality Committee will launch “First Thursday” – a monthly community event designed to add more fun and extended hours to the shopping and dining experience in Hyde Park. Events will be scheduled for the first Thursday of every month from April-December 2016, from 6-9 p.m.

More than 40 businesses from 53rd, 55th, and 57th Streets and the surrounding commercial streets will participate in First Thursdays, with some offering extended hours and parking vouchers as well as discounts, raffles, refreshments, special menu items, and more. The city’s tourism association, Choose Chicago, will also be involved in the event, and will station local residents as “Insta-Greeters” for impromptu guided tours of Hyde Park at Ancien Cycles & Café, 1558 E. 53rd Street, beginning in May and running through December.

The Hyde Park Vitality Committee says the goal is for First Thursday to become an anticipated night out for Hyde Parkers as well as those who might be new to Hyde Park. The committee is a partnership that includes Downtown Hyde Park, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the Nichols Park Advisory Council, the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), and the University of Chicago.

“Hyde Park is a special place, with a variety of shops and restaurants to cater to many tastes,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “New businesses are continuously opening, and First Thursday will provide an occasion for people to visit their favorite businesses, learn about new ones, and have a fun night out with their family and friends.”

Some of the more creative offers already planned for First Thursday include free Pumpkin Spiced Lattes for dogs at Sprocket & Stone (1013 E. 53rd Street), a fun run and gong meditation session at New Balance and Chaturanga Holistic Fitness (5500 S. Lake Park Avenue), free “surprise” books at 57th Street Books (1301 E. 57th Street), and much more.

Participating businesses to date include A10 Hyde Park, Akira, Ancien Cycles & Café, Bergstein’s NY Deli, Café 53, Chant, Chaturanga Holistic Fitness, Chipotle, Comfort Me, Elston Ace Hardware, Einstein Bros. Bagels, 57th Street Books, First Aid Comics, H&R Block, Hyde Park Produce, Ja’ Grill, Kilwins, LA Fitness, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, Leona’s, Litehouse Whole Food Grill, Medici on 57th, Mikkey’s Retro Grill, Modern Cooperative, Native Foods, New Balance, NoteworthyNotes, PACKED: dumplings reimagined, Pearle Vision, Pockets Hyde Park & Kingoberry Frozen Yogurt, Porkchop, Powell's Books, Rajun Cajun, The Revival, The Silver Room, Sir & Madame, The Sit Down Café & Sushi Bar, Sprocket & Stone Pet Boutique, Toys Etcetera, Wesley’s Shoe Corral, Yusho, and ZBerry Frozen Yogurt, with more being added daily.

Hyde Park business owners who would like to participate in First Thursday can contact Amy Williams at acwilliams@uchicago.edu.

Visit the First Thursday website and Facebook page.

 

Einstein Bros. Bagels launches at Harper Court, with grand opening on Thursday, December 10

The Harper Court location of Einstein Bros. Bagels, staffed with over 50 people from the local community, opened on Monday, November 23, to a very enthusiastic reception from Hyde Park residents, workers, students, and visitors.

Situated at 5230 S. Harper Court, behind the Hyatt Place Hotel in the Harper Court mixed-use development, Einstein Bros. Bagels is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The restaurant offers a full menu of bagels, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, sweets, and beverages, as well as catering options.

The Harper Court Einstein’s location celebrates its grand opening on Thursday, December 10, from 4-8 p.m. Guests receive a 10% discount on purchases during this time and are eligible for raffle prizes including free coffee and bagels for a year. The Harper Court private street area will also feature an ice carving demonstration from 4-6 p.m. as part of Hyde Park Holiday Nights, the three-week holiday celebration on December 3, 10, and 17. To show its support for the local community, Einstein Bros. Bagels will be hosting a “Hot Chocolate Welcome Station” at each of the three events, with free hot chocolate and sweets while supplies last.

Gary M. Pahl, brand and operations manager for Robinson Hill USA, the owner/operator of the Harper Court Einstein Bros. Bagels location, stated, “We could not be happier with the welcome we have received from Hyde Park. We’re very proud of this new restaurant and the operations team we have selected, and are confident that once people come in they’ll love the friendliness of our staff, food options, double-sided fireplace, and seating area with plenty of outlets and Wi-Fi access.”

“The opening of Einstein Bros. Bagels is an important milestone for Harper Court as well as the entire 53rd Street area,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. This location has strong visibility and will be a welcome asset for so many people – whether workers at Harper Court, guests at Hyatt Place, students, families, and more.”

Harper Court to host Wednesday night Summer Music Series, kicking off with DJ Herb Kent on July 29

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, is hosting an open-air summer music series in the courtyard area at Harper Court at 5235 S. Harper Court just off 53rd Street, with three events scheduled for July 29, August 30, and September 30.

The series begins with a Steppers Night on Wednesday, July 29, from 6-9 p.m., hosted by radio legend Herb Kent (The Cool Gent) and DJ Calvin Haynes. Haynes will spin records while Swan provides dance instruction from 6-7:30 p.m. Wallace E. Goode, Jr., president of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, will present Kent, a graduate of Hyde Park High School, with a key to Hyde Park in honor of his 70+ year long radio career and many other accomplishments at 7:30 p.m. Kent will close the event by spinning his favorite “dusties” from 7:40-9 p.m.

The second event is a Jazz Night on Wednesday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m., with jazz great Kahil El’Zabar and DJ Duane Powell. El’Zabar has played with legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, and more, and will be bringing his band with Denis Winslett on alto saxophone, Junius Paul on bass, and Corey Wilkes on trumpet.

The series closes with a Salsa/Brazilian Music Night on September 30, from 6-9 p.m. with Jose “Papo” Santiago and Bossa Tres. Salsa dance instruction led by Roger Noel will take place from 6-6:30 p.m., with Bossa Tres playing from 6:30-7:30 p.m., DJ Kimani Rashaad spinning from 7:30-8 p.m., and Santiago playing from 8-9 p.m.

Since launching The Silver Room on Hyde Park’s 53rd Street in April 2015, Williams has proven to be an inspired creative resource for the neighborhood, and the organization of the summer music series in conjunction with the University of Chicago has been a great opportunity to combine his passion for music with his community event planning skills.

“The 53rd Street area, particularly at Harper Court, has become an epicenter for retail and dining activity, and the courtyard area is a great place for the community to come together, as we’ve seen with the Farmers Market,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “The Harper Court Summer Music Series is a new way for the neighborhood to come together and enjoy this vibrant space, and we’re very excited about it.”

“A big part of my store is the event aspect,” said Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room,“ and I’m really happy to be able to partner with the University to curate these three events for the community. Harper Court is a wonderful resource, and I can’t wait for music lovers and dancers to fully experience it.”

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Harper Court restaurants, and paid parking is available in the Harper Court parking garage, the surface lot on Harper Avenue, as well as on street.

Harper Court is a mixed-use retail development with businesses including ULTA Beauty, VILLA, AT&T, Chipotle, Nancy Krause Floral Design and Garden Antiques, Red Mango, Native Foods, Porkchop, Ja’ Grill, the Hyatt Place Hotel, and LA Fitness, with Sir & Madame and Einstein Bros. Bagels opening in the near future.

For more information about the series, please go to http://HCmusic.splashthat.com/.

 

Sir & Madame boutique returns to Hyde Park with permanent location

It’s a happy homecoming for Hyde Park natives Brian and Autumn Merritt, opening a permanent location of their clothing and accessories boutique Sir & Madame, at 5225 S. Harper Court on August 17, 2015 – it’s also great news for area shoppers who gravitate to their “classic with a twist” design aesthetic.

Hyde Parkers may remember Sir & Madame’s temporary pop-up location at 1504 E. 53rd Street – the store opened in September 2013 in the space now occupied by Belle Up Boutique. Sir & Madame’s “urban sophisticate” offerings were enthusiastically received by the Hyde Park community, and the Merritts said they hoped to open a permanent location once their Ukrainian Village lease ended.

The couple first met as students at Ray Elementary, attended Kenwood Academy together, and now they’re back in the neighborhood with the opening of Sir & Madame in the Harper Court development, next door to Nancy Krause Floral Design & Garden Antiques. When their pop-up store opened, Ms. Merritt explained, “We're all about Hyde Park. We're back on the block…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…We definitely see Hyde Park as a viable market, and I think everyone here can appreciate well-made clothes and accessories “

“We always knew that Sir & Madame was a great fit for Hyde Park and with the 53rd Street area increasingly becoming known as a vibrant shopping and dining destination, we could not be happier to welcome them back,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “It’s a great benefit to the Hyde Park community when a pop-up shop owner experiences the vitality and charm of the neighborhood and decides to make the area a permanent home for his or her business."

Hyde Park Farmers Market returns to Harper Court on Thursday, June 4

The Hyde Park Farmers Market will begin its summer season in the courtyard area of Harper Court at 5300 S. Harper Court, on Thursday, June 4, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., taking place rain or shine every week through October 29.

Co-sponsored by the South East Chicago Commission and the Special Service Area of Hyde Park with assistance from the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, the 2015 season marks the return to the market’s original location in Harper Court from its hiatus at Harold Washington Park from 2010-2014, and includes more than one dozen local and regional farms and Hyde Park vendors selling fruits, vegetables, baked goods, crafts, plants, flowers, and more.

Confirmed vendors include Lyons Fruit Farm, Hardin Farms, Smits Farms, C&D Family Farms, Mudsock Stock Farm, Gunthorp Farms, Parrish Farms, Marilyn’s Bakery, Noffke Family Farm, Katic Breads, Artisan Bread Shoppe, Madsen Farms, Liveland Farms, and Nancy Krause Floral Design & Garden Antiques.

“We’re happy to bring the Hyde Park Farmers Market back to its original location in Harper Court,” said James M. Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “With 53rd Street increasingly becoming a center for retail and other activity, this location will put the vendors in the heart of Hyde Park’s commercial district while providing the local community with convenient access to a farmer’s market.”

To stay up to date with Farmers Market news, visit their Facebook page as well as Twitter and Instagram at @DHPChicago.

Spring brings new pop-up shops to 53rd Street

Three new pop-up shops will open on 53rd Street at the beginning of April, joining the area’s growing shopping, dining and entertainment district. Maternity and women’s apparel store Bellē Up Boutique, art gallery and jewelry and clothing retailer The Silver Room, and athletic and lifestyle apparel retailer Lively Athletics are scheduled to open by early April, remaining open until October.

The pop-up shops are part of an initiative by the University of Chicago for apparel and home goods retailers to test their concepts in Hyde Park while offering local residents a variety of new shopping options on a rotating basis. UChicago has been partnering with the City of Chicago and the local community for several years to reinvigorate the 53rd Street commercial corridor.

Recent pop-ups, such as designer clothing boutique Anastasia, vintage women’s apparel store Meadowlark, and candy shop Amy’s Candy Bar, have extended their stay in Hyde Park based on their success in the neighborhood.  Comfort Me; a women’s apparel, gift, and accessories boutique which opened in August 2013; recently relocated to 1508 E. 55th St. in the Hyde Park Shopping Center where it has a long-term lease.

James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University, said the latest pop-ups offer a diversity of retail concepts to Hyde Park shoppers.

“The new businesses are distinct in what they offer—from women’s apparel, fitness apparel and accessories, to custom handmade jewelry, and art—but the business owners all bring a similar passion for community building through their stores and we’re happy to welcome them to 53rd Street,” Hennessy said.

The new stores include:

Bellē Up Boutique, 1504 E. 53rd St.: a Beverly-based maternity boutique owned by South Side mom of two, Jamenda McCoy. In addition to stylish maternity and nursing clothes, Bellē Up features non-maternity apparel, accessories, jewelry, and unique gift items for women.

“My team and I work exceptionally hard to create a one-stop shopping oasis for today's busy women—from boardroom to playroom, “ McCoy said. “I view the new location as a unique opportunity to introduce the women of Hyde Park to our brand, and for us to understand and invest in Hyde Park in the same way we have done in the Beverly and Mt. Greenwood neighborhoods over the past five-and-a-half years. We plan to listen to our Hyde Park clientele and work to make our store a destination that the community can be proud of, enjoy, and will want to keep around for the long-term."

Bellē Up Boutique was named as one of the best local places for maternity clothes in Chicago by Chicago Parent magazine. For discounts and special offers, join the Bellē Up-Hyde Park’s VIP Text Club by texting JUSTBU to 36000.

Lively Athletics, 5241 S. Harper Ave.: an athletic and lifestyle apparel and accessories retailer owned by sisters Kate and Anne Pezalla. Their first location was in Oak Park.

“We opened Lively Athletics with the goal of creating a warm and welcoming environment for women of every level of athleticism.  Our Hyde Park shop will be a great opportunity for us to continue to build that community—and, of course, to fit every woman with the perfect running shoes and perfect sports bra so that she can move with comfort and confidence,” said Anne Pezalla. “We're excited to be part of 53rd street, with its amazing restaurants, cool boutiques, and nearby gyms and studios.” 

“In addition to fun runs from Lively, we look forward to partnering with local running groups, like Hyde Park Runner's Club and Black Girls Run, for special fitness events,” she added.

Lively Athletics was named one of Chicago’s 10 best running shops by Time Out Chicago.

The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St.: a jewelry and clothing shop that features an art gallery space for readings and events. Originally located in Wicker Park, the Hyde Park pop-up will bring owner Eric Williams “… closer to his sister and 100-year-old grandmother who live together on the South Side.”

The Silver Room has co-hosted events at the Currency Exchange Café in the nearby Washington Park neighborhood.

“I’m excited because our new location in Hyde Park will be bringing something to the neighborhood that’s not there currently. In the past, people would have to come north to get The Silver Room experience, and now they’ll have it in their own backyard,” Eric said.

 

53rd Street area merchants offer “First Weekend” fun and discounts to UChicago students, Jan. 9 and 10

Hyde Park’s 53rd Street is expected to be bustling with activity this weekend, as more than two dozen merchants in the retail corridor welcome University of Chicago students back from winter break with a First Weekend event on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 9 and 10, from 6 - 11 p.m.

Organized as part of the University’s UChicago Local initiative to support businesses on the mid-South Side, the event includes nine stores, 16 restaurants, and seven other local businesses – each offering special happenings, discounts, samples, or raffles for students who show their valid UChicago ID.

Some of the event highlights for students include the Harper Theater’s (5238 S. Harper Ave.) free midnight showings of Caddyshack, the Promontory’s (5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West) “Polar Bear Party” and raffle for De La Soul concert tickets, and the raffle for three months of free laundry service from Kimbark Coin Laundry (1218 E. 53rd St.). In addition, the Doughnut Vault food truck will be parked in front of Nichols Park (1355 E. 53rd St.) both nights, selling its popular treats. The UChicago Police Field Office (1411 E. 53rd St.) will be giving away water bottles and cinch bags for students registering a bicycle or laptop computer on Friday night until 8 p.m.

Formerly known as “First Friday,” the quarterly event, coordinated by the University’s commercial real estate team and the Office of Campus and Student Life, has been extended to include Saturday night based on positive merchant feedback from previous events. UChicago will offer increased shuttle service between 53rd Street and the main Hyde Park campus both nights.

“Several new businesses, including short-term pop-up shops, have opened on 53rd Street since the beginning of the current academic year,” said James M. Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “The First Weekend event is an opportunity to introduce or reacquaint UChicago students with the wide array of shopping, dining and entertainment options on the street, while supporting local retailers.”

For the full list of participating businesses and offers, students can visit http://firstweekend.splashthat.com/

New pop-up shops coming to 53rd Street

Three new pop-up shops are set to open on 53rd Street early next month, becoming the latest addition to Hyde Park’s burgeoning shopping, dining and entertainment district. Home goods purveyor Neighborly, handmade-fashions boutique Anastasia, and vintage retailer Meadowlark are all scheduled to open on November 7 and remain open through the upcoming holiday shopping season.

The temporary stores are part of an ongoing effort for apparel and home goods retailers to test their concepts in Hyde Park while giving local residents new choices and a variety of shopping options. Other recent pop-ups have included apparel boutiques Independence and Sir & Madame, children’s apparel retailer Red Balloon, and women’s apparel store Comfort Me Boutique. Comfort Me, which opened in August 2013, has proven popular among local shoppers and has signed a long-term lease to remain in the neighborhood.

“I love this neighborhood because it is very close-knit and has that feeling that everybody knows everybody,” said Bethany Thomas, who manages the Hyde Park Comfort Me. “I am getting really good feedback about my product and what the shopper here likes.”

If the latest pop-ups are successful, they might stay longer too. The stores are:

  • Anastasia, 1500 E. 53rd St., is a Ukranian Village-based fashion boutique headed by designer Anastasia Chatzka. It is known for offering avant-garde garments on the forefront of fashion. Its pop-up shop in Hyde Park will stock select handmade soft goods.
  • Meadowlark, 1457 E. 53rd Street, is a community-oriented shop with a main branch in Humboldt Park, featuring a carefully edited selection of vintage clothing for men and women, as well as works by local artists and designers. The pop-up store will feature modern-feeling vintage, including wool sweaters, silk shirts, fine wool coats, and scarves for cold days.
  • Neighborly, originally based in Lincoln Square, will go into the space at 1506 E. 53rd St., most recently occupied by Independence. It is a one-stop shop for locally sourced home goods, including furniture, vintage kitchenware, and modern artwork. The Hyde Park pop-up will carry a similar but carefully curated inventory, offering seasonally appropriate goods to South Siders seeking stylish, modern home accessories. The store is currently seeking a retail assistant.

“The pop-up shops are one strategy to bring in the kinds of retail options the local community has told us they want to see, in addition to the restaurants and other amenities we’ve had great success in attracting to the area,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University of Chicago, which has been partnering with the city and local community to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor. “So far, each of these temporary stores has stayed longer than they originally planned because they have been even more successful than they expected.”

The University is working with its leasing agent, McCaffery Interests, to identify both temporary, pop-up retailers for 53rd Street and long-term tenants.

The Promontory opens today

The Promontory restaurant and bar will open for business today, adding a new dining experience to a growing restaurant scene in Hyde Park’s 53rd Street corridor.

The new establishment, at 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, features a “hearth to table” theme and a menu by Chef Jared Wentworth, whose work at Longman & Eagle earned that popular Chicago restaurant a Michelin star. The Promontory, named for Promontory Point in Hyde Park, is the newest concept from Chicago restaurateurs Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, who are also partners in Longman & Eagle.

The restaurant, which joins A10, Porkchop, Native Foods, and Red Mango among new 53rd Street-area eateries, is part of a multiyear effort led by the University of Chicago to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor. The Promontory occupies the south end of the two-story building at 53rd and Lake Park that had been a shuttered Borders bookstore.

“The Promontory is a great addition to Hyde Park and will offer another venue for local community members who have expressed a desire for a variety of dining options,” said James Hennessy, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University.

The restaurant and bar occupy the first floor of the two-story building. Beginning this fall, the Promontory will also offer live musical performances in its second-floor space.  It will feature an eclectic lineup of local and national touring artists, similar to Empty Bottle and Space, two other venues Finkelman and Golden are partners in, respectively.

“Both the Empty Bottle and Space have established themselves as institutions for live music in the Chicago area, and The Promontory will bring that same commitment to the Hyde Park community,” the restaurant’s owners said in a written statement.

The space, which is expected to have capacity for 300 seats, will also serve as a community center, hosting events such as farmers markets and craft fairs.

The hours of operation for the restaurant and bar will be Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

 

UChicago seeking a buyer for Harper Court

The University of Chicago has listed the 12-story Harper Court complex for sale and said it plans to lease back all of the office and retail space when it finds a buyer.

Harper Court opened in November 2013, after a multi-year redevelopment project designed to bring new amenities to Hyde Park and create economic opportunities for the surrounding area. The University first announced plans to sell the property shortly after it purchased it from the developer, CJUF III Harper Court LLC, in November.

“This project is the result of many years of planning and input from members of the community about the kinds of retail they wanted to see in the neighborhood, and we are looking for a new owner that will be committed to Harper Court for the long-term,” said James Hennessy, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University.

Harper Court includes 224,000 square feet of office, retail and parking space. As part of a purchase deal, the University would sign a 20-year master lease for the office and retail portion and would continue to work with its leasing agent to identify retail tenants for the remaining spaces in the building. Harper Court is currently 93.6% leased.

The University exercised an option to purchase the project from the developer for $98 million, with the intention of maintaining goals set for the project through its partnership with the city and local community. Harper Court grew out of community visioning workshops held in 2008 that led the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago to contribute land and other resources to redevelop a former shopping center. The University committed to a 20-year lease of the office tower to help attract developers to bid on the project during the height of the global financial crisis, which made financing large real estate projects nearly impossible. Late last year, UChicago relocated about 550 employees to the building.

To date, the University has invested more than $30 million in Harper Court, including acquiring land for redevelopment and building out the office space. It also provided a $21.5 million loan guarantee for construction of the new Hyatt Place hotel, which is adjacent to the office tower and was part of the phase one construction for Harper Court. The Hyatt Place is owned by Smart Hotels and is not up for sale.

Harper Court is part of a larger effort led by the University to redevelop the 53rd Street commercial corridor. The University has made significant investments to renovate a number of other buildings on 53rd Street since 2011, helping to attract 23 new businesses to Hyde Park.

“From the beginning, Harper Court helped boost interest from prospective tenants and is now providing increased foot traffic to support the surrounding businesses,” Hennessy said. “We’re confident that it will be a good investment for the right buyer and continue to be an important center for the community.”

As current owner of the project, the University pays property taxes that contribute to the 53rd Street TIF district. It will continue to contribute to tax revenues as anchor tenant after the building is sold.

Harper Court is listed for sale with commercial real estate firm CBRE Group.

Renovation of Harper Theater Receives Two Preservation Awards

By Katherine Steward

In 2008, a vacant and rundown Harper Theater Building complex was placed on Landmark Illinois’ watch list for endangered buildings. This month, the complex will receive the second of two recent awards for a renovation project that has brought the historic buildings on the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper back into use.

The Hyde Park Historical Society recently named the University of Chicago as recipient of the 2014 Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award for its renovation of the Harper Theater Building complex. The award, which recognizes “outstanding achievements in the preservation of Hyde Park's architectural heritage,” will be given at the Historical Society’s annual dinner on February 22. In October 2013, the renovation project received Landmarks Illinois’ prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award in the rehabilitation category, which honors work that allows for continued use of a historic site.

The University purchased the buildings in 2002 and, as part of broader redevelopment efforts on 53rd Street, undertook a major renovation in 2008.

“Early on, we recognized the architectural heritage of the property and the historical significance of the buildings as a gathering place for the community, and we wanted to restore that,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for Commercial Real Estate Operations at the University of Chicago. “We are delighted to receive these awards on behalf of the many individuals and organizations that contributed to re-opening the buildings for community use—from local aldermen and community leaders who supported the effort, to the artisans who completed the renovation work and the tenants who committed to lease space in the buildings.”

Designed by architect Horatio Wilson, the Harper Theater Building opened in 1914. The theater space was a 1,200-seat vaudeville house, which was converted to a movie theater in the 1930s. The movie theater closed in 2002 and the building sat vacant for more than a decade before it was renovated and reopened in January 2013. Renovations on the buildings included restoring the external façade and installing a replica of the theater’s original marquee.

The Harper Theater complex now houses the four-screen Harper Theater, Hyde Park’s only first-run movie theater; A10, an upscale Italian restaurant by chef Matthias Merges; and the Chicago Innovation Exchange, which is under construction and expected to open by the end of the year.

In a press release announcing the statewide Driehaus Award recipients, Landmarks Illinois President Bonnie McDonald noted, “This year’s winners of a Richard H. Driehaus Preservation Award demonstrate that preservation is not only a tool to rejuvenate a vacant building, but a key revitalization strategy for business, government, and community purposes.”

The Hyde Park Historical Society bestows the Marian and Leon Despres Award in honor of the late Chicago alderman and activist Leon Despres and his wife. Leon Despres was a 1927 graduate of the College at the University of Chicago and a 1929 graduate of the Law School.

 

 

Yusho Hyde Park is moving forward

Chef Matthias Merges, owner of the new Hyde Park restaurant A10, said he is moving forward with plans to open a second restaurant in the neighborhood, the Japanese-inspired Yusho Hyde Park, at 1301 E. 53rd Street.

Merges anticipates a summer 2014 opening for Yusho and said future customers can expect “great hospitality and great cuisine” at the restaurant, a Hyde Park version of his successful Yusho concept in the Avondale neighborhood.

A recent court ruling cleared the way for Yusho Hyde Park to serve alcohol at 1301 E. 53rd Street, which had previously been part of a dry precinct. Last month, a lawsuit challenging a petition signed by local residents to un-dry the precinct was dismissed with prejudice, and the Circuit Court of Cook County deemed the petition valid.

"I’m here for the long haul. I believe in Hyde Park and what it has to offer,” Merges said. The chef added that construction of the restaurant needs to be completed and that he has to obtain a permit and a liquor license from the city of Chicago.

James Hennessy, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate at the University of Chicago, said the University is pleased to be able to bring Yusho Hyde Park to the neighborhood.

“The success of A10 so far, as well as local support of plans for Yusho, shows that the community has an appetite for new dining options, and we look forward to seeing Yusho open soon,” Hennessy said. “Having a second restaurant by Matthias Merges, an award-winning chef, will further complement everything 53rd Street and the Hyde Park neighborhood have to offer.

Merges opened A10 in November at 1462 E. 53rd Street—next door to the Harper Theater, which opened in early 2013, and across the street from the Hyatt Place hotel, which opened in September 2013. A10 is open for lunch and dinner.