Frequently Asked Questions: 53rd Street TIF

University Communications

What area is included in the 53rd Street TIF?

Link: - Department of Community Development

What is the University's stake in developing that property?

We are committed to fostering a retail environment that will match the excellence of other signature neighborhood features such as good housing, high-achieving schools, and historic cultural institutions. The neighborhood improvements we seek are in line with many of the goals identified in community meetings, surveys, and visioning workshops conducted over the last two years, including increased retail, restaurant, and entertainment options. When Hyde Park flourishes, the University and its neighbors benefit.

What progress has been made on the development of the old theater/Tribune building on Harper Avenue?

We continue to evaluate proposals and have held ongoing discussions with developers. The economic downturn has increased the degree of difficulty for all concerned.

Why did the University terminate the initial development company/plan regarding the Harper Theater?

Despite our agreeing to extend contract deadlines, the developers were not able to secure commitments from potential tenants.

Why are viable businesses such as Dixie Kitchen and Calypso being moved out of Harper Court before there are new businesses to replace them?

All agree that the Harper Court buildings (with the exception of the building housing Checkerboard Lounge and Park 52 restaurant, which have undergone extensive renovation) are in disrepair and have access and code challenges. We are working with the owner of Dixie Kitchen and Calypso and offering assistance we hope will allow her to consider re-opening in another location in Hyde Park.

How long does the University expect the Harper Court property to be vacant?

The redevelopment timeline calls for a developer to be chosen later this year. The community review and input process—as well as the city permitting process—suggest that development could begin approximately 24 months following that choice.

How does the University expect the economic downturn to affect the prospects for the development of 53rd Street?

It has already slowed redevelopment and it will make the process more difficult than we had originally anticipated. Yet despite this economic environment the development community has continued to exhibit strong interest in this site.

Vacant lots negatively affect the value and safety of the surrounding property. What will be done to lessen the impact of Harper Court's temporary vacancy?

When appropriate the site will be cleared and prepared for redevelopment. We will be working with community members and organizations to schedule ongoing activities and special events on the site so that the space remains useful to Hyde Park residents.

What steps has the University taken to involve the community in this redevelopment process?

The University has collaborated with Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and the city's Department of Planning and Development to spur development of a high-quality, mixed-use project that becomes a cohesive, active neighborhood core. In addition, the University has worked with a diverse cross-section of community groups including The South East Chicago Commission,, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, and the 53rd St. TIF Advisory Council in order to set goals for community redevelopment.

What steps does the University plan to take in the future?

The University intends to be an active property owner and corporate citizen, participating in the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the 53rd Street TIF Council.

How can community members keep themselves informed about the progress of the 53rd Street development strategy?

A number of venues provide ongoing information regarding development progress including:

—53rd St. TIF Advisory Council

—South East Chicago Commission (SECC)

—University of Chicago Campus and Community website

—University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement

For more information, contact: Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President for Civic Engagement,

How can community members offer suggestions or comment on the process as the University and the city undertake the redevelopment of the 53rd Street TIF district?

Participating in the 53rd St. TIF Advisory Council, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, or the Hyde Park Cultural Alliance are all good ways to become active stewards of the vision for a revitalized 53rd Street.