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CTA Blue Line Renovations Nix Coffee Shops in Wicker Park, Logan Stations

By Alisa Hauser | July 17, 2014 9:47am
 A Cafe Transit logo touts a coffee shop at the CTA Blue Line Damen "L" station that is no longer to be.
A Cafe Transit logo touts a coffee shop at the CTA Blue Line Damen "L" station that is no longer to be.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Plans for coffee shops inside Wicker Park's Damen and Logan Square's California CTA Blue Line stations have been canceled by the CTA, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday, explaining that the space is needed to alleviate crowding of riders.

Concessions will not be offered at either station when the agency's "Your New Blue" renovations are complete, the spokeswoman said.

"After renovations, CTA will be using the space to better accommodate the volume of passengers at the Damen and California stops," said Lambrini Lukidis, a CTA spokeswoman.

The renovations are part of a four-year, $492 million overhaul aimed at cutting travel times and upgrading station houses and platforms.

The logo for Cafe Transit, scheduled to have opened last summer, continues to adorn boarded-up concession spaces in the Damen and California stations.

In March 2013, Cafe Transit signed a 10-year lease through 2023 for an 80-square-foot space inside the Damen "L "  stop at 1588 N. Damen Ave. in Wicker Park and a 199-square-foot space inside the California Blue Line "L" stop at 2211 N. California Ave. in Logan Square.

Lukidis said, "the Your New Blue Project was not finalized until after the concession spaces were leased" and that "Cafe Transit is entitled to some reimbursement as part of the lease termination, and that is being worked through."

Lukidis added that "Cafe Transit is able to apply to locate at other CTA concession locations."

Cafe Transit owner Darko Arandjelovic declined comment. The owner of Division Street's Caffe Streets, Arandjelovic was going to expand his reach to the Damen and California Blue Line "L" stops with Cafe Transit.

In a March 2013 interview, Arandjelovic said, “We love the energy on the ‘L’ and wanted to celebrate it by offering boutique-quality coffee and food to the CTA and its customers."

A business partner of Arandjelovic, Brent Norsman, also declined to comment. According to the Secretary of State website, the Cafe Transit business license was dissolved on June 13.

The concession in the Damen station has been boarded up since November 2012, when vendor Dash Patel was forced to close, citing rising rents as the CTA sought higher-paying tenants and longer-term leases.

The rent the CTA could have collected over the ten-year lease for the two locations was $192,000, Lukidis said.

Meanwhile, a concession planned for the Belmont station in Avondale has fallen through, and the location is again for rent. The Bageler and His Wife was was scheduled to open last year, but co-owner Chelsey Torres said, "We had a lot of issues getting plumbing into that space, and it ended up being $30,000 to do that."

The business was renamed The Bagelers Coffee House and opened in a different location, at 2461 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Park.

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