Fitness center, grocery store, coffeehouse targeted for 4900 block of Irving Park; Ald. Arena to hold March 11 meeting


About $2.5 million in tax increment financing subsidies is being sought for a proposal which would bring a fitness center and possibly a grocery store and a coffeehouse to the 4900 block of West Irving Park Road.

The developer has a lease with Retro Fitness and letters of intent from Aldi’s and Starbucks, according to Alderman John Arena (45th).

The fitness center and Aldi’s would be located in the former Bank of America building, 4901 W. Irving Park Road, while the Starbucks, possibly with a drive-through facility, is being targeted for the site of a former tire shop, 4939 W. Irving Park Road. The tire center site is located just outside a “pedestrian street” zoning district that prohibits drive-through facilities.

Arena will hold a community meeting on the project at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, in the banquet room at Las Tablas restaurant, 4920 W. Irving Park Road.

Other grocers which have looked at the building reportedly include Cermak Fresh Market. The Cermak owner also owns the property, but opening his store would have required the demolition of the two-story building, and Arena has said that he wants the 300-seat theater on the second floor preserved.

“In order to preserve the theater for community and nonprofit use, the owners are requesting $2.5 million in TIF assistance,” Arena said in his weekly newsletter. A previous developer for the property reportedly walked away from the project because the leasing of the second floor to performing art groups would have generated insufficient revenue.

“We’d like to see that theater re-activated, which falls in line with the guidelines of the Six Corners Master Plan,” said Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh. At one time classic movies were shown in the theater.

This project marks the second time in 4 years that Aldi’s has considered opening a grocery store on the first floor. Any grocery store project would require a zoning change because the 260-space parking area in the rear of the site is zoned for residential use.

The project also would include offices, and a Culver’s restaurant also is being considered.

Tax increment subsidies also have been requested for a redevelopment project for the former Bank of America building at 4747 W. Irving Park Road. The bank recently opened a smaller branch at 4671 W. Irving Park Road.