News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Susan Campbell

what's up with harper theater...

In addition to Harper Court, there is another University-owned property that is awaiting a makeover. The old Harper Theater building on the corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue has been vacant since the movie theater closed due to financial and management issues. Residents at the last TIF Advisory Council Meeting expressed concern that development is not moving faster.

The University purchased the building in 2002 and would also love to see it put to use, said Susan Campbell from the university’s Office of Civic Engagement, who is responsible for making sure that development strategies will boost the quality of life in the surrounding communities – i.e. make sure we will be able to shop, eat out and have fun, without leaving our neighborhoods.

Residents and potential developers recognize that the building has an important location and could really make 53rd street shine once it’s redeveloped. University folks recognize that as well.

“I want everyone to know that we feel the same way,” Campbell said at the meeting. “The developers of Harper Court feel the same way, and some of the people making proposals about that building’s development feel the same way, so we are all of like mind regarding the Harper Theater property.”

Campbell also mentioned that the slow economy has complicated efforts to find the right plan. Residents have offered a wide variety of ideas about what should be done with the building; some want it renovated, while others want it demolished.

“What we have heard is a mixture of thought,” she said. “We are not hearing a consensus, so we are considering all things at this point.”