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Residential Tower for Village Shopping Center Redevelopment Scaled Back

By Sam Cholke | October 12, 2012 3:27pm

HYDE PARK — The developers of City Hyde Park have scaled back the residential component in the plans for the mixed-use redevelopment of the Village Shopping Center.

The Silliman Group opted to remove Studio Gang’s plans for a 20-story high-rise from plans for the redevelopment of the property at South Lake Park Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard, to cut $30 million in costs and allay fiscal concerns.

“We had a variety of pieces of resistance, mostly from the financial community, that said they didn’t want a two-phase development; they wanted a one-phase development,” said Peter Cassel, director of community development for the Silliman Group. “We were told, 'if you can’t do it in one phase, don’t do it.'”

The $115 million project, which would be anchored by the first Whole Foods on the South Side, has progressed in fits and starts since 2002. The budget was re-jigged again this year after lenders balked and Cassel went before the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing advisory council on Oct. 11 to request a property tax subsidy to cover a projected $11.3 million shortfall.

The council, which advises 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns on the use of the property tax revenue generated by the TIF, was short-handed and unable to vote, but the alderman indicated support for the project ahead of the council’s review.

“The fact that we got a Whole Foods to come here is huge,” Burns said. “The reason why you want a Whole Foods is, it sends a message to the markets that if you’re a little more upscale, it’s OK to come to this part of Chicago.”

The plans still call for a 17-story, 182-unit building along Lake Park Avenue, with two stories of retail that wrap around to East Hyde Park and Harper avenues.

The developers promised in 2010 not to seek TIF funding for the project and there was hesitancy from community members about using tax money now to support it.

“We’ve taken a huge chunk out of the other TIF and that was created to provide parking for the retailers on 53rd Street,” said Robin Kaufman, citing the $20 million-plus commitment the TIF made in 2010 to the redevelopment of the Harper Court Shopping Center at South Lake Park Avenue and East 53rd Street.

Burns stepped in to defend the continued use of TIF districts as a tool to redevelop parts of Hyde Park.

“Without these kind of tools we wouldn’t be getting the kind of development we want on the mid-South Side,” Burns said. "That’s just the fact of the matter, because if it could have happened without these tools, it would have happened."

If the advisory council approves the revised development plan, Burns will advocate that the City Council split the City Hyde Park property from the larger 53rd Street TIF District. Once it was removed from the boundaries of the larger TIF, the developers of the City Hyde Park property would be able to recoup about $1.3 million a year in property taxes. But unlike the Harper Court development, the developers would be unable to use taxes from neighboring properties to subsidize construction.

The project will include more than 350 spaces in an underground parking garage, 38 affordable housing units and a green roof. According to Cassel, roughly 200 people are expected to be employed during the 18 months of construction, and retailers would add 100 full-time and 100 part-time jobs after those spaces were leased, expected in 2016.