BUCKTOWN — The rumors swirling around the northwest corner of Damen Avenue and Concord Place in Bucktown appear to be true.
Major athletic retailer Nike plans to move into the former Cans Bar & Canteen space at 1640 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown, it was reported by Crain's Thursday.
Citing documents posted to BidClerk.com, a construction bidding website, Crain's reported that Nike is planning to build a 5,432 square-foot "Nike Factory Store" on the premises.
Brennan Hitpas, vice president of development for Newcastle Limited which owns the building was unable to be reached for comment.
Cindy Hamilton, a spokeswoman for Nike, issued the following statement about the store:
"This fall, Bucktown Chicago will be home to Nike's latest innovations and services for runners. NIKE RUNNING BUCKTOWN will serve as the ultimate hub for athletes offering a premium assortment of running, training and sportswear product and one-of-a-kind runners' services including Nike+ Run Club, digital gait analysis, footwear trials and more."
The news comes after a street adjacent to the three-story building was resurfaced earlier this month and on Thursday freshly poured cement was drying in the sidewalk in front of the property.
Scott Filmon, a project manager for Mico, Inc. said the cracked concrete sidewalk in need of repair was "cleaned up nice and neat for Nike."
Nike's lease begins July 15, Filmon said.
Filmon said his firm was contracted by [Newcastle Limited] to "build the vanilla box" for Nike and he expects his crews to near completion by July 15, when Nike will take over the space.
Nike's listing on BidClerk.com seeks union contractors for a certified LEED Gold Project with an estimated value of $230,000; deadline for bids is June 4.
The description is "tenant improvement for a national chain retail store" for which Nike will provide wooden flooring, "bleacher board wall material" and light fixtures.
Filmon said Nike plans to rent out only the first floor and basement, so his firm relocated "some entries" so Newcastle could maintain separate staircases to apartment rentals, which he said will be occupied with tenants by July 1.
The news of Nike's entry into the area came as a surprise to some members of the community.
Ed Tamminga, chairman of the Wicker Park Committee's P&D subcommittee, said he had "no recollection of the Nike name ever coming up at a board meeting" or at any of the group's monthly preservation and development meetings.
At a neighborhood meeting in February, Hitpas, vice president of development for Newcastle Limited, which also purchased a strip mall at 1562 N. Damen Ave. in June and a mixed residential property 2010 W. Pierce Ave, presented a rendering of the proposed space.
Hitpas, who had been seeking the group's blessing on a zoning change, declined to comment on the tenant at that time as well as in repeated follow-ups.
Tamminga, a longtime Wicker Park resident, said, "We've been trying to avoid the big chain stores but they've been gradually seeping in."
Describing the building as "one of the most substantial in size on Damen," Tamminga said, "If I had my druthers the building would be split in half with smaller retailers, though it's been a consequence of free enterprise so we'll go ahead and live with it because if anything, Nike will make for some extra foot traffic along Damen."
Tamminga said regardless of the tenant, rezoning from manufacturing to a community shopping designation was still the proper thing to do, since the street has become "more of a boutique shopping than a bar destination."
Matt Lindner, owner of Cans Bar & Canteen which closed in February, said he finalized the sale of the corner building to Newcastle last May.
Lindner said the news of Nike moving in was "suspected but not confirmed" until Thursday.
"Overall I think [Nike's] a cool brand and since I live two blocks away, I think it will be good for the neighborhood," Lindner said.