News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

growing pains: dixie kitchen closing june 7th

Change is not always easy and as 53rd street grows to meet the retail needs of our diverse neighborhood we have to say goodbye to one of our old favorite haunts. Dixie Kitchen, a venerable eatery that has prospered on 53rd street, will shut its doors on June 7th

The Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop, a soul and Cajun food joint frequented by aging academics, university students, black community leaders, and just plain ordinary folks since 1994, will shut down June 7, owner Carol Andresen said. Some of the restaurant's most popular dishes -- from gumbo and fried baby catfish to the piping hot Johnny cakes -- will be incorporated into Andresen's sister restaurant, Calypso, which is next door. But most of the menu and most of Dixie Kitchen's staff will not, becoming a casualty of the growing pains of a neighborhood on the move.

Calypso, another 53rd street favorite, will remain open, serving its delicious caribbean fare to neighborhood denizens. The restaurant won't be alone for long. The University of Chicago, which owns the 53rd street property, has solicited proposals from several different developers and expects to begin construction on a more modern and revitalized Harper Court area by next year. 

trends in retail: pop-up stores

Have you ever heard of "pop-up retail"? It is a new trend in retail in which businesses set up shop for short periods in unused or underused commercial space.  Both established retailers like Target and Motorola and lesser known merchants like the Beta Boutique, which hosts sales events in Chicago throughout the year, have begun using this method of promotional sales. 

A pop-up store is an intentionally short-lived event aimed at generating marketing buzz. Just like a nightclub that moves its location every weekend, pop-up stores create excitement because they don't last long. For landlords, the temporary outposts offer much needed income when a space is languishing between leases.

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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.

University launches 53rd St. FAQ

In an effort to increase transparency about the redevelopment process, the Office for Civic Engagement has launched a site dedicated to answering frequently asked questions about 53rd street. 

What is the University’s stake in developing that property? We are committed to fostering a retail environment that will match the excellence of other signature neighborhood features such as good housing, high-achieving schools, and historic cultural institutions. The neighborhood improvements we seek are in line with many of the goals identified in community meetings, surveys, and visioning workshops conducted over the last two years, including increased retail, restaurant, and entertainment options. When the Hyde Park flourishes, the University and all its neighbors benefit.

If your question is not answered, feel free to email your inquiry to Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President for Civic Engagement.

Welcome to the 53rd St. blog

During the last two years, the University has embarked on a project to help revitalize 53rd St. The 53rd St. TIF district provides a wonderful opportunity to update the “Heart of Hyde Park” by making it a vibrant, mixed-use main street which serves both Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods. The redevelopment process can be complex and will take time, but this blog has been designed as a resource for community members who want to keep themselves informed about the latest progress as well as stay engaged with the 53rd St development process.