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Vacant Wicker Park 'Mystery Building' on Damen Has Neighbors Wondering

By Alisa Hauser | September 24, 2015 2:50pm
 Three months after being completed, a shiny new storefront has sat empty all summer long.
1704 N. Damen Ave. in September
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WICKER PARK — Construction on an aluminum and glass building along Damen Avenue was finished in June but sat empty for the entire summer — and still shows no evidence of occupancy anytime soon, neighbors say.

"It's like a movie trailer; we keep waiting for something to start happening," said Jason Neloms earlier this week while standing next to the empty building, dubbed the "mystery storefront" since no one appears to know who will be moving into the spot.

The building at 1704 N. Damen Ave. cost $2.3 million to build, based on a permit issued last fall.

"It seems weird. All summer it was vacant and nothing happened,"  said Neloms, the manager of Fjallraven, an apparel store just to the north at 1708 N. Damen Ave. 

But, Neloms added, a serviceberry tree in the building's courtyard that was planted in May "looks good."

Neloms said he gets asked questions about the empty storefront every day and he overhears people standing in front of the construction fence and talking about it while trying to peek inside.

Though rumored to be a high-tech store of some sort, an Apple spokesperson told DNAinfo Chicago months back that the company was not planning to move into the spot. Google has not responded to inquiries about the space.

Reached on Tuesday, the building's owner Don Glisovich again declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement that bars him from talking about the tenant.

Back in June, the spot shed its construction fence for one day. DNAinfo Chicago was able to take a peek inside, though the following day the fence was re-installed.

Paul Sajovec, a spokesman for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), said on Thursday that he is not aware of who the tenant is either and there have been no new permits or business licenses issued that would indicate who would be moving in or when.

The zoning for the project allows for a retail tenant.

Since the building has been outfitted with fiber cables for high-speed Internet, and there are several electrical outlets inside, there has been speculation that it could be a high-tech store.

"There is nothing like a tech company on this block. A big name tech company would be great for neighborhood," Neloms said.

The new development replaces a one-story, 24-hour Clarke's Diner, which closed in 2013 and was demolished over the summer.

1704 N Damen Front Elevation

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