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Work Begins on Whole Foods in Hyde Park After Six Years of Planning

By Sam Cholke | December 13, 2013 8:43am
 Work has begun on the City Hyde Park development, which will include a Whole Foods.
City Hyde Park
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HYDE PARK — After six years of planning, developers are moving forward with construction of a new Whole Foods in Hyde Park.

Crews from American Demolition arrived this week at the former Village Shopping Center at 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd. to begin tearing down the former Original Pancake House and Village Foods grocery store in preparation for construction of the City Hyde Park development.

After the site is cleared, construction will begin on a $114 million shopping center and 182 apartments in a 20-story tower designed by architect Jeanne Gang. Whole Foods has signed a lease to be the anchor tenant in the development and will open in 2015.

The City Council on Wednesday began reviewing its support for the project, a $11.3 million tax-increment financing subsidy.

In January the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council gave its blessing to the plan to refund $11.3 million of the developer’s property tax payments after the project is complete.

The project, first proposed in 2007, was nearly a victim of the economic recession, but has survived where other projects failed. Another residential tower designed by Gang also to be developed by Antheus Capital next to Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., remains stalled.

Originally, City Hyde Park was to include a second 20-story residential tower as a second phase for a total of cost $145 million and the project was to require no taxpayer support.

To keep the project alive, the developer axed the second phase entirely last year, trimming its costs to $89 million, and sought $25 million in TIF and state subsidies to move forward.

Whole Foods stuck with the project through the changes, but in September, a representative for the developer said it did agree to unspecified changes to the upscale grocer’s lease.

The City Council is expected to sign off on the TIF support in January, putting the project on track to open in 2015.