UPTOWN — A $203 million renovation of the Wilson Red Line station is scheduled to start this winter despite an ongoing dispute between transportation officials and local business owners over the placement of support columns.
The Chicago Transit Authority is slated this winter to begin preliminary demolition work at the station, which was built in 1923 and has a reputation as one of Chicago's crustiest stations.
The project calls for the destruction of several empty buildings under the tracks on Wilson, including the defunct Uptown Mall building.
Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said in a recent email to constituents that demolition work would start this winter "with the final confirmation of some of the columns to be worked out in the near future."
Business owners on Broadway have railed against the support columns CTA plans to install on the sidewalk outside their businesses, arguing that the columns will become eyesores and hurt their bottom line, among other complaints.
A column planned outside the Barry Building at the southwest corner of West Leland Avenue and Broadway was relocated to the east side of the street, but another column by the building, at Clifton and Broadway, remains. Uptown Recording owner Matt Denny has said the column would bring more vibrations to his music studio at 4656 N. Clifton Ave.
Barry Building managing partner Mike Krueger said he and other opponents of the columns are "almost there" on a compromise.
"I'm very happy that they moved that first column, it was a step in the right direction," Krueger said. "Now, I feel that we're at the goal line. We're one column away."
Early work on the station was supposed to kick off in September but was delayed by the column issue. CTA also delayed selecting a general contractor for the project.
Last month, the agency applied for a special use permit to begin the station's $203 million makeover. The city's Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to review the application on Friday.
The agency is also expected to announce a contractor for the project soon at one of its upcoming board meetings. The board is scheduled to convene twice more in 2013, on Wednesday and on Dec. 11.
Assuming there are no further delays, CTA said major construction is scheduled for Spring 2014 and will span 33 months. The station will remain open during the project, according to the agency.
For more coverage of the Wilson Red Line rehab and the column placement issue, click here.