In a milestone that reflects growing economic development in the Hyde Park neighborhood’s historic commercial center, the mixed-use Harper Court development on 53rd Street is now fully leased.
The award-winning complex, a joint project by the University of Chicago, the city of Chicago, local officials and the community, is an important element of overall economic vitality on the 53rd Street corridor. Its success delivers on the University’s commitment to advance economic and cultural opportunities for local businesses, residents and visitors, as well as UChicago students, faculty, staff and affiliates.
With the first phase of the Harper Court development complete, UChicago and Wexford Science & Technology, LLC have announced plans to jointly pursue the second phase, with the proposed development of an innovation facility including collaborations with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
“The University’s investment in the revitalization of the 53rd Street, and specifically the development of Harper Court, reflects our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for the mid-South Side as well as the University community,” said Derek R.B. Douglas, UChicago’s vice president for civic engagement and external affairs. “The proposed expansion of the Polsky Center will bring even more people to the area to patronize retailers in Harper Court and along the corridor.”
Harper Court’s retail strength is noteworthy at a time when the Chicago-area retail vacancy rate has been climbing, according to a recent press report in Crain’s Chicago Business.
Harper Court reached full occupancy with the December 1, 2017 ribbon cutting and grand opening of Vanille Patisserie. Completed in 2013, the 223,775-square foot, LEED-certified office and retail property includes a 12-story office tower providing work space for approximately 500 UChicago staff members. It has a mix of retail, restaurant, hospitality, cultural and fitness tenants, including Aloha Poke Co., AT&T, Chipotle, CONNECT Gallery, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Hyatt Place Hotel, Ja’ Grill, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery, LA Fitness, Native Foods, NoteworthyNotes, Obama Foundation Library, Porkchop, Roti Modern Mediterranean, Sir & Madame, Starbucks, ULTA, Vanilla Patisserie and VILLA.
Aaron Bartels, executive director of UChicago’s Commercial Real Estate Operations group, said, “Harper Court’s 100 percent occupancy is an exciting milestone for our team, and reflects the increasing vibrancy of Hyde Park as a key shopping, dining and cultural destination in Chicago.”
Since its opening, Harper Court has become an active community hub where residents and visitors shop, dine, exercise and enjoy cultural activities. Its L-shaped internal drive is the location for a variety of community events including the Harper Court Summer Music Series, the Downtown Hyde Park Farmers Market, the Hyde Park Flea Vintage Market, Hyde Park Holly-Day and many more.
Through its continuing commitment to the community and local businesses, the University of Chicago fosters the success of Harper Court tenants and Hyde Park businesses with sponsored local hiring events, community events, local-interest social media and other outreach activities. A recent August 2017 hiring fair hosted at Harper Court and sponsored by UChicago Local in partnership with 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King and 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston generated several hundred attendees for 10 local participating businesses. The University also runs free shuttles between the 53rd Street corridor and its main campus.