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Bebe Closes Wicker Park Shop, as N.Y. Designer Steven Alan Plans Opening

By Alisa Hauser | August 30, 2013 7:28am
 There are numerous changes in the works in the 1600 and 1700 blocks of North Damen Avenue, just north of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection.
Damen Avenue Retail Changes
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BUCKTOWN —  Changes are afoot on a stretch of Damen Avenue that has emerged as a trendy retail hub.

New York City-based designer Steven Alan plans to open his first Midwest store at 1659 N. Damen Ave. in mid-September while women's clothing retailer Bebe has shuttered its outpost at 1629 N. Damen Ave.

And just up the way at 1708 N. Damen Ave, a two-flat brownstone apartment building that's been around since 1879 will be demolished sometime in September to make room for a new two-story building in the popular shopping district.

Mark Kupiec, a zoning lawyer for the building's owners, said the vintage building was "out of date and out of character" with the other properties on the street and "the bigger problem is that Damen has become very much a retail strip and the demand of tenants moving in is retail."

Ian Feinerman, a broker for @properties, said he and partner Michael Weber hoped to have a new tenant for the 2,350-square-foot storefront by the spring. The second story of the building will be converted into an apartment.

Feinerman said he and Weber would be asking for $65 per square foot and anticipated a national or "larger local retailer" would be interested in renting the street-level storefront.

In other changes, on the southeast corner of Damen and Wabansia avenues, New York-based designer Steven Alan will replace Riley, an independently-owned boutique that closed in May.

Kathleen Kuhn, a spokeswoman for Steven Alan, confirmed Thursday that the store, which offers men's and woman's apparel, as well as shoes, plans to open in mid-September. 

Alan got his start as a buyer in New York in 1994 and was the first boutique to carry eclectic clothing lines such as Sophia Coppola's Milk Shed and Daryl K, which Kuhn described as "a rockish modernized" line of clothing.

Alan went on to develop his own lines later in the '90s and is known for his signature shirts.

Meanwhile, as one shop moves in, another leaves.

After five years in the neighborhood, Bebe, a contemporary woman's clothing shop with several nationwide locations, including one in Lincoln Park, closed Wednesday.

A sign in the window of the storefront simply said, "We've loved our time here on Damen Avenue. Although we're closed, we're still nearby."