Sunday, February 24, 2008

Village Center: Poised for Development?

posted by Peter Rossi

At the corner of 51st and Lake Park Avenue, Village Center stands as one of Hyde Park's numerous monuments to poor design.

Village Center

Home to a rag-tag collection of buildings and dominated by a dirty parking lot, Village Center's only redeeming feature is the Original Pancake House. OPH exists almost to spite the other anemic tenants.

It obvious that this location is perfect for a mixed-use development. For example, a development that extends over the entire property (including the parking lot) with lower floors of retail, upper floors of apartments, and interior parking would make a great deal of sense.

The Village Center properties have been owned by Antheus Capital for more than two years. It is no secret that Antheus Capital would like develop this plot. Exact details on what might be proposed are difficult to come by (the Herald, in one of its brief moments as a real newspaper, printed a design prototype last year).

MAC Properties Sign

The wheels of development grind exceedingly slowly here in Hyde Park. Other developments such as the McMobil and Cornell and 53rd sites are dead in the water. The developer for these properties is clearly not up to the task.

This means that Village Center is the only real option for development in Hyde Park (note that Harper Court is many years in the making and probably will be hampered by law suits and community interference).

The economy in general, and the commercial real estate sector in particular, shows signs of slowing down if not a true recession. I worry that all of the fumbling of the ball on Village Center will mean that, by the time something is ready to be built, no funding will be available.

In the meantime, Village Center remains a depressing sight and an embarrassment as one of the "gateways" to Hyde Park-Kenwood.

Eye Candy at Village Center


Anonymous said...

I avoid Village Center at all costs, even though I love OPH. The complex is positively seedy looking, especially since KFC, Burger King, etc. went out and left a bunch of vacant space.

Sometimes I wonder if the explosion last year was someone's failed plan to bring it to the ground, collect insurance money and start fresh.

juliette said...

One "good" thing that Village Center has going for it is the only honest-to-God American grocery store in Hyde Park. Destitute as it may be, Village Foods is the only place to get some mustard seeds, Jell-O and cake mix for miles, and its open until midnight too!

EdJ said...

I agree that there is a real need for change here. It wold be nice if they could do something with that parking lot at 53rd Street as well. I wonder sometimes if developing 53rd and Lake Park and 51st and Lake Park would be too much, too soon, but then I think that having more to go to might make the whole thing more successful.

Imagine if there was a development here with that Gap Chicago Pop wants so deperately, along with that 24 hour diner everyone wants. Unless it's too far for Elizabeth to walk to.

Zig & Lou said...

It seems that the only way to develop this piece of real estate would be to level what is there, losing OPH and Village Foods in the process. It also seems unlikely that a developer would welcome them back into a newly developed property at the rent they currently pay (further, it would be hard to find a Gap located next to a pancake house or a independent grocer in any of the established locations they operate, national chains are normally particular about the company they keep).

Raymond said...

I seem to remember reading in the Herald that the previous owner signed a lease with HP Mortgage for 10 years or some ungodly length of time.

To get out of this, the landlord seems to be trying to starve this complex to death by not putting in any new tenants.

If they really want to move out the other tenants, though, I have to believe they could offer enough $$ to get the job done.

I hope so, because Peter is absolutely right about the need and opportunity on this corner.

chicago pop said...

I have to believe they could offer enough $$ to get the job done.

If Antheus owns this property, as Peter states, then there is no doubt Ungar could buy out all the parties in question. We know he has deep pockets. He also seems fairly patient, in HP for the long-term. This project is in the doldrums for reasons that are unclear.

There's no doubt that this is a prime business location and the current property does not take full advantage of it.

It also looks like hell and is dangerous for pedestrians.

Elizabeth Fama said...

To edj (who teased me about walking places):

Dude! I have four children and my 2002 Honda Odyssey has 32,000 miles on it. That's 6,400 miles a year, including my husband's annual gliding trips out west -- I dare you to top that (or rather, bottom that). I wore a pedometer for a couple of weeks last year and I averaged 17,000 steps a day. I've got the numbers, baby!

EdJ said...

Elizabeth -

Having grown up in the Greater Schaumburg metropolitan area and then lived on the north side for almost as long as I have in Hyde Park, I am attached to my car. You've got me beat on the pedometer and odometer.

I wonder if the issue with 51st and Lake Park has to do with it not being connected to other retail locations except by and empty stretch of parking lot between 52nd and 53rd. We have these islands of retail that don't draw people along Lake Park on one axis and 53rd on another.

Unless you're like me and you end up driving.