News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

University purchases former Borders building

The University of Chicago has purchased the former Borders Books & Music building at the corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park. Located in a prime location, the University is seeking various tenants for the two-story site to help revitalize this central corridor in Hyde Park.

The University recently hired leasing broker McCaffery Interests to help locate potential businesses within the restaurant, entertainment, home goods or retail categories that would be a good fit for the community.

Find out more here.

Borders Books

More Good News for 53rd Street

During this week’s TIF meeting, University of Chicago officials provided an update of revitalization efforts along 53rd Street.


Associate Vice President Susan Campbell of the Office of Civic Engagement shared plans for signage that will appear in the area, in addition to the sign that is currently placed in the soon-to-be residence of Five Guys Burgers & Fries restaurant.

The signs highlight the new businesses that will open on 53rd Street, including Five Guys, Clarke’s 24-hour diner, the new Harper Theater and Harper Court as well as the ongoing Celebrate Hyde Park Festivals. Take a look.

Five Guys Poster

Campbell also shared that the University has a contract to purchase the former Borders building.

“That building is a key presence on the eastern end of 53rd Street, and the University believes that bringing it back to life with a successful business is central to the community’s efforts to revitalize the corridor.”

Campbell added that the University expects to complete the purchase this month and will seek tenants who can contribute to the community and help move forward revitalization efforts along 53rd Street.

Stay tuned! More updates are forthcoming in the next few weeks.

Wendy Parks
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Get Ready for May Fest...This Saturday!

Starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Celebrate Hyde Park May Fest will take place along 53rd Street from Dorchester Avenue to Nichols Park. The festivities will run until 8 p.m. So, be sure to stop by and check out the great food, vendors, entertainment and much more.

See the schedule for the music stage below:

  • Night Knights 12:00 PM
  • Chaturanga Zumba 1:20 PM
  • Lakesigns 1:45 PM
  • Red Clay Dancers 2:35 PM
  • Nanette Frank 3:00 PM
  • Avain Hightower and Full Circle 4:15 PM
  • American English – a tribute to the Beatles – 6:00 PM
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Clarke's 24-hour restaurant heads to 53rd Street

The University of Chicago is bringing Clarke’s, a 24–hour area restaurant, to 53rd Street.

Scheduled to open this year, the Clarke’s announcement is part of the University’s on–going revitalization strategy to strengthen a key commercial corridor in Hyde Park. The news follows earlier plans to bring Five Guys restaurant, The New 400 Theaters and a new hotel (PDF) to 53rd Street. Several students and area residents have already given the recent developments a “thumbs–up.”

But the good news doesn’t stop there. Additional retail and entertainment plans are expected to be unveiled within the next few months.

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New Hotel for 53rd Street

Vermilion Development provided an update during the general TIF meeting Monday, March 14, regarding its plans ( to bring a new hotel to Harper Court. Smart Hotels/Olympia Chicago LLC was recently selected to build and operate the 130–bed hotel that is planned to open in 2013. The developer signed a franchise agreement with an affiliate of Chicago–based Hyatt Corporation to bring a Hyatt Place hotel to what will become the new mixed–used Harper Court, which will become a centerpiece of the 53rd Street corridor.

“We’re very excited about this project,” said Ed Small, President of Smart Hotels, during the TIF meeting. Small said his firm believes that 53rd Street and other areas within Hyde Park provide a place where “strong architecture” currently exists, which creates a sound environment for a new hotel. He also said that he’s equally encouraged about other development plans for 53rd Street that will complement one another such as the new theater slated to open next year.

Alderman Shirley Newsome added that Tony Fox, owner and operator of the New 400 Theaters, has a good reputation for running safe and efficient movie theaters. Newsome said she recently received a phone call from Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th ward, which represents Rogers Park, Edgewater and West Ridge, who said Fox “runs a first–rate business” in Rogers Park.

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Coming Soon - A Theater Near You

A new movie theater will soon head to Hyde Park in the University–owned commercial and theater buildings on the corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue. The New 400 Theaters independent movie owner and operator Tony Fox said the cinema will offer a unique mix of art, wide–release and children’s films.

Fox, who also operates The New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park near Loyola University, said Hyde Park is an ideal spot to bring a movie theater to because it’s “a place where people really care about their community.”

The University is continuing to work with the community and the City of Chicago regarding its revitalization efforts to help strengthen this key Hyde Park corridor. Get more details here.

Wendy Parks
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53rd Street renovation moves forward

Starting this week, you will see construction workers at the site of the up–and–coming new home for Five Guys restaurant, the first tenant of the University–owned buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue. Interior work will begin to make way for the popular chain’s inaugural spot in Hyde Park, which is anticipated to officially open by year’s end.

The momentum will continue in early March as exterior construction work is scheduled to take place. The façade plans include attractive signage, awnings and spaces for potential outdoor seating.

OKW Architects, HSA Commercial Real Estate and Premier Design + Build Group, LLC are working with the University to design, permit, restore and update the building in time to deliver the space this summer for Five Guys and other potential tenants to begin their build–outs.

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Five Guys restaurant heads to 53rd Street

The University of Chicago is bringing Five Guys, a restaurant chain whose burgers have a devoted following nationwide, to Hyde Park.

Five Guys has signed on as the inaugural tenant at the soon-to-be renovated office and theater buildings at 53rd and Harper Avenue. The news comes fast on the heels of the University’s announcement that it is renovating these key buildings.

“We’re delighted to introduce this crowd favorite to our community,” said James Hennessy, Director of Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University. “The University is committed to working with the community to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor, and the arrival of Five Guys is good news for those efforts.”

With 725 locations around the country, Five Guys is just one of a number of big-name retailers the University is talking with about setting up shop in new spaces along 53rd Street, here and at the nearby Harper Court redevelopment, to blend with local businesses.

The new Five Guys in Hyde Park will occupy 2,200 square feet and could also make use of outdoor seating with a plan for attractive awnings. Officials said they expect the restaurant to open around the end of this year.

Five Guys, which began as a sensation in the Washington, D.C. area, boasts that there are “25,000 possible ways order a burger,” and has plenty of awards to back up the buzz. At least one Hyde Parker is a believer: President Barack Obama made a highly publicized visit to a Washington, D.C. Five Guys location back in 2009, ordering jalapenos, tomato and mustard on his cheeseburger along with a side of fries. Check out the video!

“We are very excited to be a part of the Hyde Park area,” said Julie Speer, Five Guys area manager in the Chicago region. “We think it is a great fit for Five Guys and are excited to become a part of the community.”

Stay tuned — more news about new 53rd St. businesses is expected in the coming months.

Good News for 53rd Street Revitalization

Starting this week, the University of Chicago will undertake a major renovation of the theater and office buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue, with a completion date slated for this fall. The facelift will open up opportunities for new restaurant, retail and other tenants.

University officials made the announcement during the Monday, Jan. 10 TIF Council meeting. Find out more information here:

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Beautify Your World

Are you interested in helping to enhance the physical attractiveness of the community?

If so, the South East Chicago Commission and the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement invite organizations within Hyde Park –South Kenwood, North Kenwood–Oakland, Woodlawn and Washington Park communities to apply for the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant Program. Organizations could receive a grant, up to a maximum of $10,000, based on the proposed program. To name a few project examples, some include landscaping, fencing, public art displays and lighting.

Applications are available at The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. Call the South East Chicago Commission at 773–324–6929 to learn more.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to work together as community partners to improve the aesthetics of our neighborhoods, strengthen civic pride and enhance the quality of our urban living,” said Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director of the South East Chicago Commission.

Since 1999, the program has offered a total of $50,000 each year to various schools, churches, community organizations, park advisory councils and block groups to support neighborhood “beautification projects.”

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