News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

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.



Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Court
Invitation to Harper Court Partners' Grand Opening Celebration

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:


Chef Matthias Merges with UChicago associate vice president James Hennessy at a recent reception at A10

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.

A rendering of the Chicago Innovation Exchange. Courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP

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.

The new Hyatt Place on 53rd Street during construction this summer

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.

Villa, an athletic shoe and apparel retailer, was the first business to open at the new Harper Court.
Villa storefront shortly before its soft opening on Friday, August 30.
Calmetta Coleman
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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.

Brian and Autumn Merritt at their store at 938 N. Damen Avenue
A sign for the temporary Sir & Madame boutique popped up on 53rd Street last week. The store is set to open in mid-September.

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.

A second-story deck is being built for The Promontory. Photo taken Aug. 9, 2013.
A rendering of the completed deck for The Promontory. Courtesy of Antunovich Associates.
The Promontory will be located on the south end of the building that houses Akira.

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.


The Family Stone band performs to close out the Celebrate Hyde Park festival, Sunday, July 21, 2013. (Photos by Bonnie Trafelet)
Festival goers dance to the DJ's music while waiting for the Family Stone band to start.
University of Chicago students Charles Pena of Anthony, New Mexico, left, and Nick Ruiz of Las Vegas, Nevada, enjoy a cold drink
The Family Stone band performs to close out the Celebrate Hyde Park music festival Sunday, July 21, 2013.
Artist Shawn Bullen of Hyde Park works on a portrait using spray cans during the Celebrate Hyde Park music festival.
James Witezak, left, dances with Cassandra Thomas, both of Chicago, during the Celebrate Hyde Park music festival.
Dae'Jona Criss, 10, from left, Karizma Mitchell, 9, and Jakiyah Carothers, 9, show off their freshly painted faces.
Festival goers relax at a restaurant along 53rd street during the 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park music festival.