New businesses thrive in Harper Court in 2015

2015 saw new businesses adding to neighborhood retail, as well as long-time businesses closing their doors for the last time. This year also saw development on the changing landscape in Hyde Park, but not without debate.

From the ground up
Developments such as Vue53, 1330 E. 53rd St., and City Hyde Park, 1501 E. Hyde Park Blvd., were worked on all year with construction.

Vue53, which was proposed to the public two years ago, finally broke ground this spring. The 13-story apartment complex has been climbing up quickly, and is expected to finish construction September 2016. Earlier this month, the leasing rates were released for the new complex, and the rates range from $1,400 to $2,900.

One development that did complete construction was City Hyde Park.

Residents were able to begin to move in to their new digs starting last Monday, and the bottom floor that will hold a Whole Foods, Marshall’s and Michael’s is expected to be open to the public in the summer of 2016.

While two developments were busy being built, a conversation began about a new, proposed project for the corner of 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue: a boutique hotel designed by Smart Hotels.

At the first meeting on July 28, Hyde Parkers voiced concerns about the hotel’s impact on parking, as it would be built in a parking lot owned by the University of Chicago (U. of C.).

Concerns continued at the second meeting in November, where the developers addressed the parking issue on everyone’s mind.

Without imposing on the already difficult parking situation on 53Rd Street, the hotel’s team proposed some solutions to residents’ worries. Sarah Masterson of Olympia Companies explained solutions such as a dedicated shuttle service, opening the Harper Court parking garage to hotel employees and construction workers as well as a valet option.

“We would encourage restaurant patrons to use valet parking offered at short term rates,” she said.

Masterson explained that the rates would be equal to that of the parking meters so diners would not have to pay any more than they normally would.

The hotel is expected to break ground this coming spring.

New Neighbors
Hyde Park welcomed an abundance of new businesses this year, from retail, to restaurants and pop-ups.

Sprocket and Stone, a “boutique” pet shop, opened this summer at 1013 E. 53rd St. 53rd Street also saw the opening of Modern Cooperative, 1500 E. 53rd St., this fall, which sells unique furniture and home accessories.

Einstein Bros. Bagels, 5230 S. Harper Ct., joined the bustling businesses at Harper Court only last month. The announcement of the Obama Foundation moving to the Harper Court Tower was also made last month, and the foundation will be officially making the move in January.

We saw a change in scenery when the former Chicago Lake Shore Hotel, 4900 S. Lake Shore Dr., became a La Quinta Inn. Owner Earl Adams said that they essentially rebuilt and revived the entire building.

Improv comedy was revived in the neighborhood as well, with the opening of the new comedy theater, The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St.

Owner John Stoops described the new theater as a home for shows, classes and workshops revolving around the art of improv comedy. The theater opened last month, and Stoops is excited on where it is headed.

“I would love for the Revival to become a beloved community destination,” Stoops said. “A place where folks from across the South Side know there is always something happening, and that it’s always good.”

Popping in
Pop-up shops have been a staple to the Hyde Park retail sphere for a couple years now, and 2015 saw some unique shops make a visit to the neighborhood.

Belle Up, 1504 E. 53rd St.; Lively, 5421 S. Harper Ave., and Noteworthy Notes, 5231 S. Harper Ct., moved in for a brief stay to add diversity to the shopping scene.
Calmetta Coleman, the director of Communications for Civic Engagement at U. of C., said the university uses the pop-up shops as a way to bring in new businesses.
“Pop-ups have worked for Hyde Park because, from a retailer’s perspective, the neighborhood is not as proven as some other Chicago neighborhoods. The strategy allows retailers to test the market and make a longer-term decision based on the community’s response to their concepts,” she said.

One of those successful shops this year was Sir & Madame, which moved in to its permanent location at 5225 S. Harper Ct. after having a pop-up shop in the neighborhood for nine months.

Farewell to old friends
With hellos, there are always goodbyes, and we had our fare share this year in saying farewell to long-time businesses.

After 55 years on 57th Street, the Hyde Park Shoe Rebuilder closed at the beginning of this year, due to the owner, Constandinos “Gus” Lukis, and his health.
We also said goodbye to South Side Shrimp, who closed in February after less than three years in the neighborhood.

Up until August, the Reynolds Club Barbershop provided haircuts to U. of C. faculty, students and the community for over 60 years. The university made the difficult decision to close the businesses in an effort to control costs. Previous owner Mitch Mutluguler has moved on to shave heads at Yehia’s 1455 53rd St.
While still in business, Rainbow Cleaners, 1648 E. 53rd St., saw a change in ownership when the original owners stepped down to spend more time with their family.

Previous owner Chin Kee Chung said, “I am 73-years-old and I have worked so much and so long, but I will miss each customer.”

Chung and wife Hye Sook handed over the business to Pong Cha Lee in September.


[Via: Hyde Park Herald]

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