Friday, July 22, 2011

U of C Buys Borders Building on 53rd: Possible Trader Joe's Location?

posted by chicago pop

Some time back we had heard rumors about the University buying the Border's building at 53rd and Lake Park if it ever became available. To this was coupled a related rumor that Trader Joe's might be interested in that particular location, if it ever became available.

Well, it has now become available, through one of the most spectacular, non-corruption-induced corporate collapses in recent memory, and as a result, the first rumor has become fact. The U of C now owns the old Border's building. Selling price for the building has not been disclosed, and no possible tenants have been mentioned.

So the big question is, will the second rumor come true? It seems pretty clear what 'the street' in Hyde Park would prefer. Is there room on the south side for another TJ's following the new store on Roosevelt Road?

23 comments:

David Farley said...

How 'bout a new two-story House of Tiki?

M.C. said...

well, there will be a lot of Borders available for purchase in a few months! The U of Chicago can play monopoly with yet another building in the area- why not.

Hyde Park clearly does not have an issue with food deserts. it seems that we have 3 or 4 grocery stores within a 2 mile radius! I'm not complaining, just saying.

Since this area is within the TIFT community with the advent of Five Guys, Clarks, a movie theater, boutique hotel, etc, etc. what is one more store to congest the already busy 53rd street!

Lilithcat said...

what is one more store to congest the already busy 53rd street!

I guess I don't understand this complaint. 53rd Street is a commercial street, and "busy" is good. Furthermore, a store in the old Borders building would not be "one more store", but simply a new store replacing an old one.

I agree that a grocery store wouldn't be a necessity (though I'd rather see a Trader Joe's than the Whole Foods). What I'd really love is a T.J. Maxx or a Loehmann's or a Filene's.

Transplant said...

What about a gym?? We NEED a gym ... we've been held hostage TOO long by Bally's on 47th Street.

Chason said...

I have reason to doubt Trader Joe's just because Whole Foods will be coming in by 2014. True, there won't be a net increase in grocery options since I believe it is replacing Village Foods, but the Trader Joe's rumor just seems like a thing of the past at this point.

Hyde Park Matt said...

I hope the university will help make this dream a reality. Tons of people in the neighborhood would love to see this happen. Trader Joe's is a perfect tenant for this space. The existing space should be easy to retrofit and there are more parking spaces in the rear than similar Trader Joe's in the city. Plus, a new Trader Joe's would give Hyde Park a more affordable and unique shopping destination, which is very much needed with the large population of young university students and retirees. People are tired of paying the large mark-up at Treasure Island. Also, Trader Joe's being more affordable and high in quality is important to everyone, especially with the future loss of Village Foods and with a more expensive, high-end Whole Foods opening in its place in 2013. Trader Joe's would help fill the market for an affordable, high quality, grocery option. Also, this would help create a vibrant anchor tenant for the new 53rd Street / Harper Court area, which is very much needed. Oh and did I mention, “$2 Buck Chuck” (Charles Shaw Wine)? In response to the person who complained about the increased traffic...if you don't like congestion caused by a vibrant, revitalized retail district, walk, take transit, or just move to the suburbs! :~P

chicago pop said...

Yeah, that comment about 'congestion' on 53rd -- which for many years has had a large number of empty storefronts, plus a number of vacant lots -- is straight out of the NIMBY handbook.

Just based on previous comments to this blog, it seems clear that a Trader Joe's would be very welcome in this neighborhood.

It also serves a quite different market than Whole Foods (which I also welcome), and so could be compatible.

People need to get out of the zero-sum framework of thinking "oh, it's either this store or that store, this or nothing." A diverse neighborhood will support diverse retail, and diverse retail will make it more attractive for everybody.

And it won't all come at once. Which is why we should all be rooting for Whole Foods. Their success will be a beacon to all sorts of others, including the discount bargain stores that so many cheapskate Hyde Parkers love.

Andi said...

They should re-open Calypso Cafe and/or the Dixie Kitchen in this location. #imho

NumOne said...

I agree HP is far from a food desert. I would rather see a gym replace the old Borders. How about a LA Fitness???

Richard Gill said...

M.C.'s comment of July 23, "The U of Chicago can play monopoly with yet another building in the area..."

It may seem that the U of C is snarfing up every derelict commercial property that becomes available in the neighborhood. But who else having sufficient resources is stepping forward to do so? There have been similar "monopoly" complaints about MAC Realty in the housing sector, and I would ask the same question.

Given the inclination in this neighborhood to NIMBY almost any development proposal, I'm glad at least a couple of responsible parties are in the game.

Maybe the U of C and MAC could buy Promontory Point and rebuild the shoreline perimeter; at least something might get done. :-)

As for street congestion on 53rd, bring it on. Traffic is one sign of vitality. Wanting to motor down the street unimpeded is not much of a reason to oppose development.

David Farley said...

How about that "barcade" idea everybody was so excited about awhile ago? It could be the new Flynn's.

rdb said...

I think ALL of the traffic "issues" at that end of 53rd could be dealt with by eliminating/changing that light at "Old Lake Park," which ties up traffic turning onto 53rd from regular Lake Park.

I would LOVE a TJs, and I think their locations in Chicago tend to be quite close to Whole Paycheck (it's called cheap market research). I would imagine a key selling point for the emerging "Lake Park Retail Corridor" (trademark pending) is that you can have a lot of foot traffic walking over from East Hyde Park AND bus traffic from the many lines that run along Lake Park. In fact, with the developments at 51st and 53rd and the existing retail at 55th, I think it makes more sense to view the area as the Lake Park Park Commercial Corridor linking the East Hyde Park and Hyde Park residential areas.

edj said...

Trader Joes is opening a store on Roosevelt soon. They might wait to see how that goes.

Mona said...

I would love to see a Trader Joe's (or Jewel or Dominicks) at this location. I know from talking to Trader Joe's cashiers at other Chicago locations that they get a lot of Hyde Park residents shopping all the way out there and asking when they're going to open one in our neighborhood. I've lived here for 15 years and always thought of HP as a food desert... HP Co-op was overpriced (with terrible service) and TI that replaced it is basically an only-in-emergencies grocery store. HP Produce is a real neighborhood treasure for fruits and vegetables but doesn't carry everything that most grocery stores carry. I'd love to be able to have an affordable one-stop grocery store within walking distance. It would be really great for UC students too, I think.

Awahnee said...

maybe unrelated, but does anybody know what the plans are for the parking lot at the corner of 53rd? Is part of the harper court plan to build a proper parking garage there? I have always thought that a 3-story parking garage, subsidized, like the ones in Oak Park (where you can park for hours for 25 cents) would go a long way, and would make the movie theater viable etc. The removal of that old videorental store next to Valois would open up the lot for a full-scale parking garage, no? As for eyesore and other complaints, I have seen garages done tastefully -- in my hometown they clad it in wire mesh and grew ivy on the thing.

rdb said...

The old video store and the entire parking lot are part of the redevelopment. In fact, rather than having an eye-sore garage on the corner of 53rd and Lake Park, it will be a very nice set of buildings--part of my argument for thinking of all the HP redevelopment as the "Lake Park Commercial Corridor," which should prompt the city and property owners to think about how to make Lake Park a walkable,coherent street, rather than just a highway.

Lilithcat said...

"think about how to make Lake Park a walkable,coherent street,"

Usable sidewalks on both sides of the street would be a good start.

Mona said...

I just came across artist's renderings of Harper's Court, as it is going to look from different angles. For those who wanted a gym in Borders (instead of a Trader Joes), some good news: LA Fitness will be on the 3rd floor of Harper Court, on the corner of 53rd and Lake Park. Here's my source: http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2011/08/08/la-fitness-to-anchor-harper-court-new-renderings-revealed.php

Chason said...

I think, more than a Trader Joe's, I would like to see a Target there. The space seems sufficient such that they could do their new City Target concept, which would include fresh produce and groceries. This would have crossover appeal between the University student market, University faculty market, and other citizens of HP.

Justine Nagan said...

I echo the requests for a TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Target. I love Trader Joes, but bt Hyde Park Produce, TI, Michaels Fresh, Village Foods and Whole Foods coming- it seems we may have saturation. We'll see. Retail is what is really lacking- there is no place to buy clothing in HP except for a few small boutiques scattered about and Walgreens for Chicago T-shirts and Hanes.

Chason said...

While walking to work today, I noticed someone removing the window covers with the building information from the old Borders. Could this be a sign that the University is accepting a proposal? Per the Maroon, the University has apparently been flooded with them...

Chason said...

False alarm. They were replaced.

KG said...

Can Hyde Park get a Chipotle..or an Epic Burger? Is that too much to ask??? :-) P.S. I am all for a Trader Joes's!