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More Than a Year Behind Schedule, Construction Starts on Vue53

By Sam Cholke | May 12, 2015 5:31am
 With work starting on the 13-story tower, residents' have renewed worries about parking.
With work starting on the 13-story tower, residents' have renewed worries about parking.
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Courtesy of Mesa Development

KENWOOD — Construction on Vue53, a 13-story tower on 53rd Street, has finally started, 1½ years later than originally planned, renewing anxieties about parking among neighbors.

James Hansen of Mesa Development told the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council Monday night at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., that the $75 million project officially started construction Friday.

Tony Wilkins, a member of the council appointed by Ald. Will Burns (4th), worried that construction crews would park in the neighborhood like he claimed happened with other projects like the Harper Court Development.

Hansen said crews would be mandated to park in the Harper Court parking garage while working on the new building at 1330 E. 53rd St., which will include 267 apartments and 28,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction was scheduled to start on Vue53 in early 2014, but was delayed by more than a year by a lawsuit by neighbors.

A fair number of the 40 people in the audience still wore “Sky Not Skyscraper” buttons, the slogan from a protracted fight between the neighbors who thought the 13-story building was too tall for the mostly three-story stretch of 53rd Street and sued to stop it.

An appellate court ruled against the neighbors in March, clearing the way for construction to start, more than a year after originally scheduled.

Hansen attributed the entire delay to the suit and said the project has been able to absorb the costs of the delay and the budget remains $75 million.

The University of Chicago, which owns the Vue53 site, which was once a gas station, and hired Mesa to build the tower, joined the suit and Mesa was left out of the lengthy court battle.

Vue53 has survived the lawsuit and also the acquisition of Mesa Development by Canadian-owned Avison Young on April 23.

Hansen said the acquisition had “zero effect” on the project.

He said the company is pursuing the first retail leases now for the development, which is scheduled to open in September 2016.

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