WICKER PARK — After 15 years in the neighborhood, the owners of a used car lot on the western edge of Wicker Park struck "a mutual agreement" with their landlord and relocated to Cicero, with new apartments planned for the now-empty lot.
Chicago Car Center at 1655 N. Western Ave., closed last Wednesday, confirmed Elizabeth Torres, a spokeswoman for the company.
The empty lot's neighbors are Pipeworks Brewery, a craft beer maker at 1675 N. Western Ave. and a Dunkin Donuts at 1651 N. Western Ave, which opened a few months ago and was previously home to another used car lot.
With the closure of Chicago Car Center, there is now only one used car lot in the 1600 and 1700 blocks of North Western Ave: Berns Auto Sales, 1700 N. Western Ave.
A woman who answered the phone at Berns declined to comment on her competitor's closure, saying only, "Everyone has their own business to do."
The good new is that Chicago Car Center relocated to a brand new lot at 5439 W. Cermak Road in Cicero, Torres said.
"The Western location was our oldest lot and we were renting it and didn't own. It was mutual agreement with our landlord and us to move on," Torres said.
Torres added, "The neighborhood has changed for the better and we lost the majority of our customer base."
On Tuesday, the lot's landlord, Lazaro Nodarse, was meeting with architect Augustine Gomez who plans to design a three- or four-story apartment building to be constructed on the lot, Nodarse said.
Pending a demolition permit and any zoning changes, Gomez said construction could begin in the spring with apartments ready by next year.
Citing "a changing neighborhood where demand for quality-condo residential apartments" is high, Nodarse said he would like to seek renters from the artist and start-up small business community.
Nodarse referenced a relatively new live/work ordinance passed by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), which allows owners to run businesses out of their units as a possibility for the new apartments.
Nodarse said the current plan would bring 12 two- and three-bedroom apartments to the former used car lot, as well as parking spaces for the building's residents.