Monday, February 8, 2010

Harper Court Redevelopment Presentation-Fast Facts

Hey folks! I just got back from the Harper Court Redevelopment Presentation and wanted to give you all the rundown. I'm going to write more about my reactions, concerns, and hopes for the project in a later post, but here are some quick facts about the plan:
  • Essentially everything between Lake Park and Harper, 53rd and 52nd is to be razed and rebuilt. This will include the current sites of Park 52, Calypso Cafe, The Checkerboard Lounge, and several small businesses, not to mention the already defunct Dixie Kitchen. For now, the old movie theater building will not be re-developed.
  • Vermillion Development, the firm selected for the project, is known for its experience in "large-scale, mixed use university-related projects," including UIC's south campus and developments at University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana and Indiana State University
  • The first phase of building is slated to begin in 2011 and will include: 1) a 12-story office building intended to mirror the Hyde Park Bank building in size and stature, 2) 150,000 sq. feet of retail space (potentially including restaurants, bars, a live music venue, a cinema, and both national chain and small local shops) 3) a large "pedestrian environment" with green space, art, and water 4) a "mix of structured and street parking", 5) a 200 room, 12-15 story boutique hotel
  • A later phase of development will take place "subject to market," i.e. when the real estate market rebounds. This phase will include construction of two high-rise mixed-income housing structures including condos, apartments, and affordable housing
  • Based on the plans presented at the meeting, the new structures will be predominantly glass and hyper-modern in design, with a focus on sustainability and green-living standards

My twitter buddy Trish Morse (@hydeparktrish) has posted most of the meeting materials to her website, which you can check out here. Fellow Hyde Park blogger Hyde Park Urbanist also has a detailed post on the meeting here that I recommend taking a look at.

In a few words, I am both excited and concerned about what this plan means for the Hyde Park. It is on a way larger scale than I was hoping and feels a bit sterile -- looks like the developments in downtown Oak Park and Evanston. At the same time, the prospect of more dining options, bars, and live music is pretty cool-- especially because it will also mean new jobs in the community. I just hope we don't lose Hyde Park institutions like Calypso Cafe in exchange for gaining a Buffalo Wild Wings or somethng of that ilk.... More thoughts to come.

What do you all think so far?


  1. Hyde Park has precious few up to date retail spaces. A vibrant neighborhood should have a mix of types and rents. This new retail/restaurant mix will provide spaces that appeal to the more scientific operators, those who know the costs involved in taking over an ancient space but feel they don't get much out of its quirkiness.

    This and the Village Center redevelopment are beneficial because they add quality space and we can stand to lose the urban renewal retail spaces they replace. (The Harper Theater buildings might be a different matter.) More than anything, HP just needs more retail floor space.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Agreed. The huge development they're proposing feels very artificial and forced to me, but--like you said-- that might be what we need to bring quality retail to the neighborhood. My hope is that it'll have a ripple effect and trigger more organic development throughout the rest of Hyde Park.