Six Corners projects discussed




by BRIAN NADIG

Proposals for developments near the Six Corners shopping district, Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road, were discussed at the Oct. 6 meeting of the Six Corners Association.

"Six Corners is on the cusp of major development," association executive director Kelli Wefenstette said at a community leaders roundtable luncheon. "In a year from now, it could look drastically different than it does now."

The proposals call for a Binny’s Beverage Depot, a Retro Fitness center and possibly a pancake restaurant in the former Bank of America building, 4901 W. Irving Park Road, a Culver’s restaurant on the site of a former tire shop at 4939 W. Irving Park Road and a retail center on the site of the former Bank of America facility at 4747 W. Irving Park Road.

In addition, a mixed-use development at Irving Park Road and Avondale Avenue will include a Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria carryout store, a Potbelly’s Sandwiches restaurant and a Bow Truss Coffee shop.

Alderman John Arena’s director of economic development Anthony Alfano said that the developer for the Binny’s project initially requested a $4 million subsidy from local tax increment financing districts to pay for some of the infrastructure improvements on the property but that the request has been reduced to $2 million.

Alfano said that Arena does not take subsidy requests lightly and that, to be considered, developers must show that their project would provide a benefit to the community. He said that the Binny’s project would include the conversion of the adjacent alley into a public plaza and preservation of the former bank’s 300-seat theater on the second floor.

"There really are not a lot of 300-seat theaters in the city," Alfano said. He said that plans call for the theater to be made available for use by community organizations.

The firm Clark Street Development initially sought $12 million in TIF district subsidies for a retail center on a nearly 4-acre site at the southeast corner of Irving Park and Cicero, and that request was later reduced to about $5 million, Alfano said. "Now they’re asking for zero TIF," he said. "It’s still set to be a $40 million investment in the community."

An anchor tenant for the retail project has not been announced.

It also was reported that TIF district subsidies are being considered for the redevelopment of several underutilized buildings on the east side of the 4000 block of Milwaukee Avenue, including the former Mr. Steer’s Steakhouse. The Condor development company recently acquired those properties, and a brew pub is among the uses being considered for the block, Alfano said.

It also was reported more that $3.5 million in TIF district grants through the city’s Small Business Improvement Fund have been used to renovate storefronts at Six Corners.

Also at the meeting, it was announced that the association is planning to install bike corrals, public art and other improvements to help make Six Corners a destination. "We want to make it a place people want to come to, make it a place people feel safe and comfortable," Wefenstette said.

The association also is considering making a walkway that runs behind the Klee Plaza between Cicero and Milwaukee more visible to shoppers. One recommendation calls for painting the sidewalk that leads to the walkway.

It also was reported that the Chicago Ballet Center, 4024 N. Cicero Ave., is constructing a new dance studio on the top floor of the four-story Portage Lofts building, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., which also houses the National Veterans Art Museum, the Filament Theater and the Inside Out Art Studio and Mask Shop.

Association board member Jackie Intress, who is the Filament Theater’s outreach manager, said that it is unusual to have a building in a city neighborhood dedicated to such a variety of art uses.

Arts Alive Chicago president Cyd Smillie said that the art uses have played a role in attracting new businesses, such as the Community restaurant that opened earlier this year at 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave. "Community is here because of Filament," she said.

The association will sponsor a "Halloween Treasure Hunt" and "Costume Coven," which includes Halloween games and mask making, on Saturday, Oct. 31. A schedule of activities and times can be found online at www.sixcorners.com.




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