Several developments on tap on Harlem Ave. in 41st Ward


Construction of new Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s restaurants has begun recently along Harlem Avenue in the 41st Ward.

Alderman Mary O’Connor’s senior advisor Jason Hernandez said that the Dunkin’ Donuts will be built at 5401 N. Harlem Ave., which is the site of a former Midas repair shop.

Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner Max Purohit said that the business will feature about 1,800 square feet of retail space and that work is progressing on the outside as well as the inside of the restaurant. He said that the restaurant will open in September or early October and will have 10 parking spaces. He said that parking also will be available on Balmoral Avenue.

The city issued a building permit in March for the reconfiguration of the building’s interior and exterior.

"We are in the process of removing items from the inside and beginning to bring in the furniture," Purohit said. "We are also doing plumbing and some HVAC. It will be a 24-7 place."

Purohit said that he owns 14 other franchise Dunkin’ Donuts businesses in the city, including one at O’Hare International Airport and several on the Northwest Side. He said that he plans to work with the alderman’s office to have a patio area in the front of the restaurant.

Purohit said that he had purchased the 2,840-square-foot building last year and that at the time it was operating as EZ Auto Solutions, a mechanic’s shop.

Hernandez said that the site is zoned B3-1, which allows restaurants, and that the business will not have a drive-through facility so a special use from the Zoning Board of Appeals is not needed.

Across the street on the west side of Harlem, the aging Wendy’s building at 5472 N. Harlem Ave. was demolished recently to make way for the chain’s new prototype model. The new Wendy’s will resemble one that recently opened at Harlem and Irving Park Road. It is scheduled to open in October.

The Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special use for the restaurant’s new drive-through facility at its April 25 meeting. A portion of the rear of property was zoned for residential use, and the proposal calls for the entire site to be zoned B3-1.

Project officials told the 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Board at its Feb. 5 meeting that about 70 percent of the restaurant’s business comes from its drive-through customers and that about 100 vehicles used the existing restaurant’s drive-through lane between midnight and 4 a.m. each day.

The restaurant will have a fireplace and Internet access, and its exterior will feature corrugated panels, face brick and a red metal blade with the company’s logo. The number of parking spaces will be reduced from the existing 48 to 33 in order to meet the requirements of the city’s landscaping ordinance.

Hernandez also said that O’Connor’s office is waiting for an update from the Chicago Transit Authority regarding improvements to the CTA Harlem Blue Line station at 5550 N. Harlem Ave. The improvements are part of the agency’s 4-year $492 million track and station projects.

According to preliminary CTA plans, the platforms at Irving Park Road, Montrose Avenue and Harlem Avenue will be repaired, the existing curtain walls at the station houses and platforms at Harlem and at Cumberland Avenue will be replaced, and the skylights on the platforms at Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland also will be replaced.

In addition, the City Council at its meeting last week approved on ordinance introduced by Alderman Timothy Cullerton (38th) to rezone areas around Harlem Avenue and Addison Street from B2-3 neighborhood mixed-use district and B3-2 community shopping district to B3-1 community shopping district.

Cullerton had said that he introduced the ordinance because he does not support plans by the Zitella Development Corporation to build a four-story condominium complex at Harlem and Waveland avenues.

Cullerton has said in the past that the Verandas on Harlem condominiums at 3630 N. Harlem Ave. stand out like a "sore thumb" and that he wanted to prevent future developments of that type in the neighborhood. He said that the tall buildings do not conform with the character of the neighborhood.

The developer can still request a variation for the project. Those condominiums were built under former 36th Ward Alderman William P. Banks in 2008.

The area will be part of the 38th Ward under a new map that takes effect next year. The area is currently is in the 36th Ward, which is represented by Alderman Nicholas Sposato, who announced on Aug. 5 that he is running for alderman in the 38th Ward.

The ordinance will rezone the properties at 3452-3610 N. Harlem Ave., 7207-27 W. Addison St., 3601-07 N. Oconto Ave., 3517-35 N. Harlem Ave. and 3612-36 N. Harlem Ave.