LINCOLN PARK — Mark Hunt, the developer of a proposed Walgreens on Armitage Avenue, is facing a lawsuit from a business partner who claims Hunt lured the drugstore away from a parcel they co-own on Clybourn Avenue.
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court Monday, claims Walgreens was prepared to sign a lease in the Lincoln Park Plaza strip mall, 1941-53 N. Clybourn Ave., according to a Crain's Report.
The suit directly contradicts statements made by senior Walgreens management who told a packed community meeting Monday night that no nearby locations were available when the Armitage lease was signed.
Community members had asked if other Lincoln Park sites had been considered for the store, such as a parcel owned by Hunt just south of Armitage on Halsted, but Todd Frank, senior real estate manager for Walgreens, said Hunt had not yet acquired that land when the lease was signed.
He did not mention the space along Clybourn, which is highlighted in the lawsuit.
"At the time this lease was signed, those other locations were not available," Frank said at Monday's meeting.
Chicago developer Fred Latsko co-owns that property at Clybourn and Racine, but Hunt purchased the former Greater Little Rock The Lord's Church, which he demolished in the fall to make way for the Walgreens.
The lawsuit claims Hunt used information from the talks among Latsko, himself and Walgreens to sway Walgreens to the 834 W. Armitage Ave. location, according to Crain's. Latsko seeks unspecified damages and seeks to have Hunt removed from his position as co-manager of the Clybourn property.
The Armitage location has been controversial among neighboring businesses on the stretch of the Armitage-Halsted Historic District because of both a lack of parking and the architectural plans for the new structure.
About 100 people attended the Monday night neighborhood meeting held by Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) to discuss the Armitage Walgreens.
Small businesses along Armitage fear Walgreens' customers will take up the few available parking spots available in the area, and because the new structure will fall just under the 10,000-square-foot limit, it will not need to provide parking. The building will actually contain about 15,000 square feet of retail space, but city code does not factor the lower level retail into that calculation.
The developers of the site plan on filling for building permits in May, and it will likely take 60 to 90 days to get the permits once the application is filed, according to Spiro Tsapras, CEO of Centaur Construction Co.