Hyde Park retail survey shows neighborhood needs


One thing that is constant about retail in Hyde Park is that it is always changing. It seems that new businesses are coming and going faster than an item at a clearance sale.

In the past year and a half alone, 11 businesses have closed and 12 have opened. Of the businesses that have opened shop in the neighborhood, eight of those are located on the busy 53rd Street corridor.

The 53rd Street revamping into Downtown Hyde Park has brought with it new pop-up shops, restaurants and specialty stores.

A report about the 53rd Street visioning workshop from the Southeast Chicago Commission (SECC) in 2012 stated that community members were interested in retail diversity.

“The group was concerned with the homogeneity of current stores and restaurants and the lack of healthy food options along 53rd Street. They felt retail diversity would promote commerce and attract consumers from outside the Hyde Park community, as well as supporting local businesses,” the report said.

In a separate report conducted by the SECC and the University of Chicago (U. of C.) from 2013 that surveyed 502 residents of Hyde Park and Kenwood, 76 percent of respondents said that Hyde Park needs more retail businesses and stores. More than 70 percent said that they shop in Hyde Park, specifically 53rd Street businesses, at least once a week.

With new businesses being added to the neighborhood, opinions on what Hyde Park could use more of is brought up in community meetings, like a discussion at Blackstone Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave., on May 10.

“There’s a lot of dialogue in the South Side because there is so much going on down here that needs improvement,” said Sally Jones, Hyde Park resident and first assistant at the Blackstone Public Library, at the meeting.

The Hyde Park Herald took to Twitter to ask our followers in a poll about what businesses they would like to see more of in Hyde Park. The four options were casual wear/thrift store, bakery/candy store, bar or lounge and a low-priced supermarket. Out of 45 votes, 39 percent of people said that they would like to see more bars move into the neighborhood. Low-priced supermarket followed in closely at 36 percent.

In comments on social media, more residents also brought up their desire to see a brewery, non-fast food restaurants at a reasonable price point and an upscale salon.

Despite new retail happenings, other businesses are closing their doors for good. Out of the 11 businesses that have closed the past year and a half, five have cited the cause as not having enough customers to make it.

Three of the businesses that have closed for good have been in the neighborhood for over 50 years, including Supreme Jewelers, Reynold’s Club Barbershop and the Hyde Park Shoe Rebuilder.

After being a music staple in the South Side for 43 years, the Checkerboard Lounge that moved to Harper Court closed quietly in September, and reportedly closed in part due to a decline of customers resulting from the redevelopment of Harper Court by the U. of C.

The U. of C. owned the retail space of 11 of the total businesses that have either opened up or closed down over the last year and a half. According to Calmetta Coleman, the director of communications for civic engagement at U. of C., the university has had about 40 new retail tenants open in Hyde Park, including pop-up stores, since 2011.

Coleman said the university does take into consideration what residents want to see in their community through meetings and workshops.

“Restaurants were one need the community identified, along with soft goods retailers, entertainment options and a hotel,” she said.

On the horizon, more businesses will be added on the street level of the Vue53 development, 1330 E. 53rd St., to accompany the Target, as well as possible retailers for the boutique hotel planned for the corner of Dorchester Avenue and 53rd Street.


[Via: Hyde Park Herald]

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