News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Harper Court Partners

University of Chicago closes on purchase of Harper Court

The University of Chicago has purchased Harper Court, the new 12-story office tower and retail complex at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, from developers Harper Court Partners.

Harper Court officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 8, after a multi-year project designed to create a new hub for consumer amenities and economic opportunities in Hyde Park. The project grew out of community visioning workshops held in 2008, which prompted the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago to contribute land and other resources toward the redevelopment. The University and the city selected Harper Court Partners as the private developers.

The contract with the developer included an option for the University to acquire property that is part of Phase I of the project. The deal, which includes the 150,000-square-foot office tower, more than 75,000 square feet of retail, and two parking garages, as well as rights to land for Phase II, closed Nov. 14. The new Hyatt Place Hotel adjacent to Harper Court is not part of the transaction.

University officials said that by taking ownership at this point, the University can help guide the future of the complex and guarantee that it continues to support a mix of amenities that complement existing businesses in the 53rd Street corridor and reflect the kinds of retail options local residents want. From the project’s beginning, the University has worked with the developer to ensure that Harper Court includes a mix of national, Chicago-based, and locally owned businesses, and that those businesses include South Side residents in their hiring plans. Additionally, more than 28 percent of the qualified project costs were engaged with minority- and women-owned businesses.

James Hennessy, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University, said the University does not intend to own the property permanently, and that it will begin a search for the most appropriate owner for the long-term. The University will pay the same property taxes that any private owner would, contributing money back into the 53rd Street TIF district.

“Harper Court has already had a powerful catalytic effect on the neighborhood, spurring the creation of new jobs and new businesses along the 53rd Street corridor. It will continue to be an important component of broader efforts to make 53rd Street a vibrant neighborhood center, and the University is committed to ensuring that it remains a long-term asset to Hyde Park,” Hennessy said.


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 earns high marks for sustainability

The U.S. Green Building Council, an organization devoted to sustainable building and design, has bestowed its LEED for Neighborhood Development Gold rating on Harper Court. The distinction makes the 53rd Street development the highest LEED-rated project of its kind in Illinois and among the highest rated in the nation.

Harper Court Partners, the developers of Harper Court, said the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Neighborhood Development designation recognizes the mixed-use project’s location in a densely populated urban neighborhood and proximity to public transportation, among other things.

When it opens in 2013, Harper Court will consist of a 12-story office tower, nearly 45,000 square feet of retail space, an LA Fitness center and a Hyatt Place hotel.

Read more about the LEED-ND Gold rating, including comments from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer, in the developer’s press release.

ULTA Beauty brings pre-leasing at Harper Court to 90.4%

Harper Court Partners, LLC, today announced that retailer ULTA Beauty has joined the growing list of tenants for the Harper Court development, bringing total pre-leasing for the project to 90.4%.

ULTA Beauty—which sells cosmetics, fragrance, haircare, skincare, bath and body products, and operates a full-service salon in its stores—will bring another option for convenient fashion-oriented shopping to Hyde Park. The retailer currently has four locations in the city of Chicago. The closest to Hyde Park is at 114 S. State Street.

"The addition of ULTA Beauty to Harper Court, along with the opening of AKIRA, represents an inflection point, signaling the entrance of fashion-oriented retailers into the Hyde Park neighborhood,” said Darrin Jolas, Director of Leasing & Development with Vermilion Development.

ULTA Beauty will occupy 8,890 square feet on the ground floor of Harper Court when it opens next year. Read more about it in the developer’s press release.

Harper Court signs new restaurants, reaches construction milestone

When it opens next year, the Harper Court development on 53rd Street will be home to authentic Jamaican restaurant Ja’Grill, a casual gastro-pub eatery called Park Tavern, and a new location for Starbucks.

Developer Harper Court Partners, LLC, today announced that it has signed leases to bring the new retail tenants to the development, bringing the total pre-leasing level to 86.4%. Previously announced tenants include LA Fitness, Chipotle Mexican Grill and a Hyatt Place hotel.

Execution of the new leases, which total 10,000 square feet of space, coincided with the final concrete pour — or “topping off” — of the project’s 12-story office tower, which will have the University of Chicago as its anchor tenant. Retail tenants will be located on the ground floor of the development. The new Harper Court is set to open in summer 2013.

For more information, read the developer’s press release:

Retail and parking structure at Harper Court reaches second story

Construction on retail and parking space at the far northwest corner of the new Harper Court recently reached the second story—the highest planned enclosed level for that part of the mixed-used development.

While the most visible piece of the redevelopment of Harper Court is the office tower that has been rising at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, McHugh Construction also has been busy working on the opposite end of the site. The two-story structure, which extends to Harper Avenue, will include one-level of underground parking, retail space on the ground floor, enclosed parking on the second floor, and open-air parking on the roof.

That end of the development eventually will be connected to the office tower, forming an L-shape. Construction progress on the corner of the L (the northeast end of the development, on the Lake Park side) so far has not been visible from the street.

Ground-floor retail space, along with second-floor and underground parking, will extend throughout the development. In the office tower, the third floor will house an LA Fitness center, with office space on the upper floors.

McHugh Construction recently poured cement for the ninth floor of the 12-story tower, and the first phase of the redevelopment is set to open in 2013. Besides the office tower, retail and parking, the first phase will include a Hyatt Place hotel, south of the retail and parking structure.

The Harper Court project, which is a partnership between the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago, broke ground in November 2011. In addition to LA Fitness and Hyatt Place, confirmed tenants include Chipotle Mexican Grill and the University.

For more information about Harper Court, including Twitter updates, visit the developer’s website at

McHugh Construction crew at work on the second level of the retail and parking structure on the northwest end of Harper Court.

The office tower at Harper Court continues to take shape on the corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue.

Chipotle coming to 53rd Street

Developer Harper Court Partners, LLC, announced today that Chipotle Mexican Grill has signed on as a lead tenant for Harper Court, which is set to open on 53rd Street in 2013.

The popular fast food restaurant will join LA Fitness, Hyatt Place Hotel and the University of Chicago as major tenants. The 53rd Street location will be Chipotle’s second on the South Side of Chicago. 

“It is a nice amenity for the neighborhood and a popular choice here on campus,” said Jim Hennessy, director of commercial real estate for the University of Chicago. “It is also a sign of the enthusiasm major retailers have for the revitalization of 53rd Street and another step toward long-term economic vibrancy here.”

For more information, read Harper Court Partners’ press release.

Harper Court Conference & Job Fair

Harper Court Partners, LLC, the team that is redeveloping Harper Court, is hosting a conference for minority- and women-owned businesses and local contractors next Thursday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

The Harper Court Opportunity Conference, held at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., is free and open to contractors or suppliers interested in opportunities associated with the project. Alderman Will Burns will provide opening remarks at 9:30 a.m.

On Sept. 21, Harper Court Partners, LLC will host a Local Union Job Fair. All attendees must have a union card. The job fair will be held from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the Hyde Park Art Center, with Alderman Burns speaking at 9:30 a.m.

“We encourage minority- and women-owned businesses as well as local contractors, suppliers and union workers to participate in these events,” said Chris Dillion, a partner with Harper Court, LLC. “This is an exciting project that is poised to stimulate economic growth in the Mid-South communities and the South Side of Chicago."