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Howard 'L' Station Area Needs Retail, Transit-Oriented Development: City

By DNAinfo Staff on May 30, 2014 5:44am

 Ald. Joe Moore hopes to find a buyer to build a commercial and market-rate residential development.
Ald. Joe Moore hopes to find a buyer to build a commercial and market-rate residential development.
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DNAinfo files/Benjamin Woodard

CHICAGO — The city put out a call for bids to transform a long-vacant plot near the Howard Red Line Station into a transit-oriented, mixed-use development.

Formerly the site of the Lerner Newspaper Building, the single-acre property at 7519 N. Ashland Ave. in Rogers Park could be the site of a high-rise building mixing market-rate housing with retail, provided such a proposal is submitted, according to the office of Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

"This is a long time coming," Moore said. "We're looking for a good responsible developer to develop the site and to help stimulate the business climate along Howard Street."

The city is looking for proposals for a mixed-use development that would include "engaging ground-level retail," take advantage of its location near the Red Line station, include an appropriate parking component and be environmentally sustainable.

Both Moore's office and community groups indicated that they are looking for housing with market-rate pricing in the proposals.

"The question now is what can help bring about stabilization of Howard Street," said Michael Glasser, a founding member of the Rogers Park Builders Group. "We need more people there who can spend money in the neighborhood."

In 2013, the city rezoned the site to allow for more dense development on the site.

"We need to bring some additional density to that location," Moore said.

The alderman's office said a high-rise development might be considered appropriate for the site.

After the city's Department of Planning and Development sifts through the proposals, due Aug. 29, a small number of them will be shown to Moore before a final decision is made.

Moore said approvals won't be made without community input, but added that he'll move as quickly as possible to get a development on the site that he said has been a "bur under my saddle."

In 1992, the site was bought by the same development team that built the Gateway Centre shopping plaza at Clark and Howard streets.

One of the partners was John Terzakis of the Burrell Restaurant Corp., which retained ownership of the property until a foreclosure in 2010.

He proposed a a mixed-use retail, condominium and town home development on the property. Terzakis was later convicted for his role in a $25 million Ponzi scheme, according to media reports, and the development plan died.

In 2006, the city failed to find a developer in a similar bid to get something built on the site, Moore said.

The city eventually bought the property for $900,000, using tax increment financing funds.

The city set its target selling price for the property at $1.4 million.

"The Lerner site is strategic and could be a key piece to our goal of rebuilding Howard Street," Glasser said.

CONTRIBUTING: Benjamin Woodard

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