EDGEWATER — Neighborhood business owners got a first look this week at several renovated retail storefronts now available at the Argyle and Granville "L" stations.
Filling up the empty locations is the final step in an $86 million project to rehabilitate six Red Line stations on the North Side, Chicago Transit Authority officials said Tuesday night at a meeting in the Broadway Armory in Edgewater.
About eight spaces are available for leasing at the two stations, while additional spaces would be ready to lease soon at Berwyn and Jarvis, said Lindsey Fahey, an employee of Jones Lang LaSalle, the firm that manages CTA's retail locations.
"Part of taking these stations from 80 percent to 100 percent is getting neighborhood businesses" to move in, said Ald. Harry Osterman (48th).
Three spaces are also available at the Morse "L" station, according to CTA retail listings.
More than 20 people showed up to the meeting to hear more about the leasing process.
Jones Lang LaSalle will accept applications and bids for the open spots through Feb. 15. Then, the firm will recommend proposals to the CTA board of directors.
Osterman and CTA officials warned not to commit to more than a 10-year investment in the spaces because of "long-term projects" on the Red Line, referring to a proposed major overhaul of the entire North Side "L" system.
Ally Brisbin, co-owner of the Kitchen Sink, a coffee and sandwich shop just east of the Berwyn "L" stop, attended the meeting and said she was interested in a retail location.
"We just hit our three-year mark," said the 27-year-old. "We hit a place where we’re growing and trying to identify what our next step would be."
Adam Hinkle, who runs the Stone Soup Theatre Project, was at the Tuesday meeting and said he was considering moving his 1-year-old production company to an "L" station location.
"The mission of our company — being very community-orientated work — would be something the CTA would be looking for," he said.
But Hinkle, 29, said he was "on the fence" about applying for a lease.
Officials said the available spaces had been completely gutted and waterproofed, but utilities have yet to be hooked up and would depend on the type of business moving in.
Officials said there was money left in the construction budget to help build out the locations with proper utilities or other elements necessary for the business.
"These are very raw spaces. We want more than a can of paint on the walls," but nothing too ornate because of future changes to the stations, Osterman said, but repeated that the CTA and his office were looking for "quality" businesses that are involved in the neighborhood.
The listed spaces varied between 556 and 3,459 square feet of retail space.
Jones Lang LaSalle plans to hold a series of open houses at the stations in the coming weeks.