PORTAGE PARK — The huge Bank of America branch at the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District has been sold and will be torn down to make way for shops and stores, officials said.
Clark Street Development paid more than $10 million for the 140,000-square-foot triangular property at the corner of Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road as well as a one-acre parking lot in the 3900 block of Milwaukee Avenue, across the street from the triangular building, according to public records.
Heather Cherone says this development could mean big changes for the Six Corners shopping district:
Clark Street Development plans to tear down the 75,000-square-foot building at 4747 W. Irving Park Road, which had been under contract for about five months, and build a retail development, firm principal Peter Eisenberg said.
“This neighborhood has been significantly underserved by retailers,” Eisenberg said. “We have already received a substantial amount of interest in this location.”
Bank of America officials have said a new, smaller branch will open in the fall at 4737 W. Irving Park Road.
The development will boost a years-long effort to revitalize the former retail district, which once drew nearly as many shoppers as the Loop, Eisenberg said.
“This project will be a catalyst for additional growth in the area,” Eisenberg said, adding that Clark Street Development had already made a "significant" investment in the property and was prepared to commit additional “significant” resources to the project.
Levi Moore, the president of the Six Corners Business Association, said the announcement was evidence that the decade-long effort to revitalize the area was working.
"The plan is coming together," Moore said. "This is another step."
Eisenberg said his firm was working with Ald. John Arena (45th) to develop a plan for the site, which was identified in a 2012 city-crafted master plan as one of the keys to restoring the shopping district to a measure of its former glory.
“We’re very excited to be part of the resurgence of Six Corners and to help it regain its status as one of the best shopping districts in the city,” Eisenberg said.
The alderman is eager to work with Clark Street Development to redevelop the property in a way that complements the character of Six Corners and is consistent with the existing redevelopment efforts on north Milwaukee Avenue, said Owen Brugh, Arena’s chief of staff.
However, Brugh cautioned against viewing the redevelopment of the Bank of America site as the “silver bullet” that solves all of Six Corners’ problems.
“It is not going to be one project that brings Six Corners back,” Brugh said. “It will be a million different things.”
The master plan recommends a four- or five-story building on the site, to match the height of the Sears store across Irving Park and the Klee Building, which is diagonally across Cicero Avenue.
There should be 24,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor of that building and between 50 and 75 residential units on the floors above, according to the master plan.
In addition, the development should include a 7,300-square-foot courtyard to allow a public gathering area as well new streets to chop up the massive city blocks into more walkable chunks.
The project will not include condominiums or apartments, Eisenberg said.
Clark Street Development has a reputation for building quality developments and attracting national retailers, Brugh said.
According to an assessment done as part of the master plan, Northwest Side residents spend $141 million on shopping and eating outside the area. That situation creates a significant "retail gap" and an opportunity for new shops and restaurants to claim that business, according to the report.
Clark Street Development has not decided whether to ask city officials to change the property’s zoning designation to allow it to build a larger-scale project than would be allowed under the existing limits, Eisenberg said.
Any proposed zoning change would be detailed at a community meeting before Arena would take a position on it, Brugh said.
In addition to the zoning restrictions, the property is included in a pedestrian overlay zoning district, which is designed to protect walkable shopping districts.
The extensive regulations, which aim to promote transit, economic vitality and pedestrian safety and comfort, cover everything from how much window space buildings must have, where doors should be located and how far the building should be set back from the sidewalk, according to the city code.
Clark Street Development is confident it can work within the existing zoning rules and build a project that would benefit the entire Northwest Side, Eisenberg said.
“We’re very excited about this project, and proud to be part of Six Corners,” Eisenberg said.