Bell Studio to Leave Southport for Cheaper Waters
LAKEVIEW — A custom framer and local gallery is leaving Southport Avenue after 12 years so the building owner can redevelop the space to offer more room for retail.
Bell Studio, at 3428 N. Southport Ave., will be moving to a new location in about two months, said owner Paul Therieau.
Building owner Frank Campise said his company JAB Real Estate, Inc. plans to renovate the space, hopefully to be completed by winter 2013 or spring 2014, he said.
Therieau said he has seen friends with mom-and-pop businesses come and go over the years and, with recent developments on the street, he knew he wouldn't stay forever.
"I'm not thrilled about [the move]," Therieau said. "The writing's been on the wall. They’re going to turn this whole street into a strip mall. There’s nothing I can do about it."
The popular retail street has been undergoing a series of changes in the past years toward more chain stores, from the construction of a 10,000-square-foot Gap by the Southport Brown Line "L" stop to a planned expansion of Starbucks next to independent store Safari Cup.
Campise said the redevelopment plans are still in the early stages and they have no idea who will go in. He's not opposed to refilling the space with a local business but, because the renovated retail space will be bigger, "it may make it a little challenging for some locals," he said.
So far, his company has talked to local tenants and to national tenants like Forever Yogurt, a deal that ultimately didn't come to fruition.
"We're still so early," he said. "It's hard to say. We’re evaluating exactly what we’ll do."
Bell Studio relies on custom framing for business but Therieau also offers a venue for local artists. He's had more than 100 shows, he said.
Therieau plans to find a space on the North Side and continue being a both a gallery and frame shop.
But he's saying goodbye to Southport Avenue for now.
"I'm kind of getting priced out here," he said.