UPTOWN — A shuttered recycling center in Uptown has been demolished to make way for a new day care center — a development that could affect plans for the neighborhood's entertainment district.
The owner of ABC & Me Daycare, Albert Miranda, had a shed that was part of Uptown's former recycling center at 4714 N. Sheridan Road demolished this winter so a contractor can "erect a new one-story commercial building for a new day care center," according to the building permit at the site.
The land there is now mostly dirt and rubble, and there's no word on when construction will begin.
Thursday, a representative for ABC & Me Daycare, 1108 W. Lawrence Ave., confirmed that the day care is moving from the ground floor of the Aragon Ballroom to the Sheridan location, but declined to offer any details.
Alyssa Berman-Cutler, president of economic development organization Uptown United, a branch of Uptown's Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email that ABC & Me is "a wonderful day care that’s been a real asset to the community, and we’re thrilled to see them investing in growth here."
"At the same time," she added about the move, "It opens the door to the possibility for a bar or nightclub in their current space, which serves entertainment district goals of building activity more nights of the year."
Leaders in Uptown have emphasized that while the neighborhood already has an entertainment district of sorts with The Riviera Theatre, Aragon Ballroom and a cluster of bars near the Lawrence Red Line — ramping things up depends on the opening of smaller and medium-sized venues in the area, as well as "entertainment-supportive" bars and restaurants.
The idea is to keep people spending money in the neighborhood before and after events at the larger venues, including the Riviera, Aragon and long-vacant Uptown Theatre, which is considered a linchpin of the initiative but hasn't made much progress toward its own revitalization.
While the entertainment district vision hasn't been realized yet, there have been positive signs.
A new venue named Uptown Underground is slated open this fall and offer vaudeville, comedy and burlesque shows at the Uptown Broadway Building, 4707 N. Broadway. A acclaimed fine dining restaurant 42 Grams, run by chef Jake Bickelhaupt and his wife, Alexa, opened in January just down the street from the future Uptown Underground site at 4662 N. Broadway.
A couple blocks west of the Aragon, the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., has plans to rezone the mammoth building to lure tenants focused on the arts. And last February, Flats Chicago bought a former vaudeville theater and defunct bank on Wilson Avenue, a few blocks south of the Aragon, aiming to use it as part of the entertainment district push.
Flats' Jay Michael said his goal is for the building to "facilitate the arts, but also have a pedestrian use.”
“So, not something only active a few nights a week,” Michael said last year. “Something like Union Pizza in Evanston, where the front is a pizza shop and the back is a theater.”
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