BRIGHTON PARK — The site of a demolished, century-old CTA bus garage will get new life as a major retail development under a plan OK'd by the City Council.
Plans for the 6-acre "Archer Station" development at Pershing Road and Archer Avenue, approved by the City Council last month, call for four new commercial buildings and 366 parking spaces. The project will be anchored by a 40,000 square-foot L.A. Fitness center with an indoor pool, group exercise classes and child care options.
"It will attract folks and be a neighborhood convenience. That's a big seller for a community that's starting to see some opportunity," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th).
Casey Cora explains that some environmental issues will need to fixed at the site:
Josh Levy, an executive with the First American Properties, said the project will "establish a high standard" for development in the Brighton Park and McKinley Park neighborhoods. First American bought the 274,810-square-foot property for $1.6 million.
"You will see the effect this has on the community," Levy said.
Cleanup at the site, which includes the removal of contaminated soil, asbestos-laden building materials and fuel and oil storage tanks, is underway, Levy said.
To help reverse a century's worth of damage — "the bus port was spewing toxins," Cardenas said — developers are planting more than 200 trees throughout the site, and the parking lot will be built with special permeable pavers, which help keep stormwater out of the city's aging sewer systems.
Records filed with the city show the development would provide parking for up to 50 bicycles.
The fitness center is the first major tenant to commit to the project. It's expected to open in the spring. First American is now trying to recruit more tenants to the property, including a general retail store, a food-related business and a pharmacy.
"We're not going to rush it and get a tenant that's wrong for the project," Levy said.
Various CTA enthusiast message boards report the CTA's Archer garage opened in the early 1900s and housed track beds and rotating tables for the city's streetcars. The facility later received the city's first fleet of air-conditioned buses.
The garage closed in 2010 amid CTA cutbacks and environmental concerns, a move that redistributed roughly 20 Southwest Side bus routes.
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