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Businesses Near Damen, Elston, Fullerton Exit Before January Demolitions

By Alisa Hauser | December 16, 2014 4:59pm
 Work is scheduled to begin in the near future on the reconfiguration of the Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection.  The major project will impact several local companies and workers.
Damen, Elston and Fullerton Intersection Update
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BUCKTOWN — With the makeover of Bucktown's busy and oft-clogged Damen, Elston, and Fullerton intersection set to begin in the spring, some businesses have either closed or relocated so the city can demolish several buildings and reconfigure the roadway.

Pete Scales, a Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman, said that the demolition of the former WhirlyBall, My Gym and Card and Party outlet — part of a four-storefront complex at 1880 W. Fullerton Ave. — as well as Dunkin Donuts at 1927 W. Fullerton Ave., will start in January.

The buildings will be razed so the city can reconfigure the intersection, part of a $36.3 million project expected to be completed by December of 2015, officials said in April of 2013.

 My Gym's new location at 1461 W. Webster Ave.
My Gym's new location at 1461 W. Webster Ave.
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My Gym/Bob Schnoll

The intersection makeover will realign Elston Avenue, so it will bypass the current intersection and cross Fullerton about one block east of the current intersection.

Click here to view a map of the plan.

Demolition of a warehouse at 1875 W. Fullerton Ave. on seven acres formerly owned by Fullerton Avenue Company, a subsidiary of Newsweb Corp., began in late November and could take up to two months, Scales said.

The city paid $6.7 million to Fullerton Avenue Company in August to take the properties to begin to work on the intersection, according to county records.

Charley Gross, president of Newsweb Corp. previously said, "The new Elston [Avenue] will go straight through our property, right where our building is. We didn't have a lot of active use of the property, it was a development site for us. The taking [by the city] impacts our ability to develop it."

The rerouting of Elston Avenue will lessen the impact of traffic at the intersection, which sees 70,000 vehicles a day and consistently ranks in the top five intersections for the most traffic accidents each year.

Waits to make a turn at the intersection can be as long as seven minutes, city officials said.

In advance of the demolition, Dunkin Donuts at 1927 W. Fullerton closed on Monday. The city bought the Dunkin Donuts building for $844,935 in August from Adam Winick, according to county records.

Last week, WhirlyBall closed its longtime Chicago headquarters at 1880 W. Fullerton Ave, and relocated to 1823 W. Webster Ave. inside of a newly-constructed 50,000 square-foot complex that includes a bowling lanes.

The city paid $6 million in September to Exoho Associates, owners of the 1880 W. Fullerton Ave. shopping mall, to take control of the property, according to county records.

Earlier this month, My Gym, a children's fitness center, moved from Fullerton into new quarters at 1461 W. Webster Ave. inside of a shopping center that includes Regal Movie Theater and Barnes & Noble.

My Gym, which serves children age 6 weeks to 10 years old, was at its original Fullerton location for 14 years, owner Bob Schnoll said.

"All of our customers have happily migrated to our new location. Many of them are as excited as we are. The response throughout the first two weeks has been outstanding," Schnoll said on Tuesday.

Schnoll said My Gym's new space is larger and offers new equipment as well as free parking with validation in the mall's parking lot.

A grand opening weekend party for the new My Gym is scheduled for Jan. 23-25, Schnoll said.

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