Demo permit pending for bike shop; another parking lot for Jeff Park?
by BRIAN NADIG
The former Sportif Importer bike shop building at 5225 W. Lawrence Ave. has had a controversial history in Jefferson Park but that could come to an end once it is demolished.
"This art deco building with the terra cotta facade was once our neighborhood Jewel store (built 1949)," the Northwest Chicago Historical Society said in a statement. "This is one of only a handful of these structures still standing in the city today, and it is part of the history of Jefferson Park."
Since the early 2000s, several buildings in the Jefferson Park business district have been demolished, and in some instances used as parking lots.
A demolition permit for the bike shop is pending, and the development team that recently acquired the property has announced no future plans for the site. However, some residents have expressed concern that the parcel could be used to extend an existing gravel parking lot at 5237 W. Lawrence Ave., where the Jefferson State bank once stood and which in recent years has been used to store limousine buses.
The Mega Group, which is constructing a four-story Jefferson Park Residences at 5201 W. Lawrence Ave., reportedly is affiliated with an entity that earlier this year purchased the bike shop parcel.
Jefferson Park Residences filed a lawsuit against the bike shop in 2018 reportedly over a water/drainage issue, but the lawsuit was dismissed last February.
In the mid-2000s, the city filed an unsuccessful condemnation lawsuit against the bike shop owner in an attempt to acquire the parcel and then resell it to Mega. While the city never acquired the bike shop, it did successfully condemn two parcels at Lawrence and Laramie avenues for $1.46 million and 10 years later sold the land for $1 to Mega. Those parcels are part of the Jefferson Park Residences development.
In 2002, a two-story commercial structure with a terra cotta facade at 5300-14 W. Lawrence Ave. across the street from the bike shop was demolished, and the site was later turned into a parking lot.
The Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois had called for the building, which was constructed in 1923, to be preserved.
"A two-story Gothic Revival commercial building, it has a wonderful scale and location that, if reused, could help create a pedestrian friendly character and activity along this section of Lawrence Avenue," the council said. At the time Mega, which owns the property, argued that the building was structurally in poor shape and needed to be torn down.