The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Aldi, Ross To Anchor Huge Center Set To Replace Empty Bank at Six Corners

By Heather Cherone | February 18, 2016 6:01am

The design of the shopping center reminded some Far Northwest Side residents of Wrigley Field. [Clark Street Real Estate]

PORTAGE PARK — The empty Bank of America branch at the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District would be replaced by a massive shopping center anchored by an Aldi grocery store and Ross Dress for Less clothing store, according to plans unveiled Wednesday night

The shopping center at 4747 W. Irving Park Road — to be known as the Pointe at Six Corners — would include space for a dozen stores in total, according to the proposal unveiled by Clark Street Real Estate, which officials said was designed to restore Six Corners to its status as an "iconic" shopping designation in Chicago.

The proposal drew mostly positive feedback Wednesday night at a packed community meeting hosted by Ald. John Arena (45th), although some Portage Park and Old Irving Park residents said they were less than thrilled the center would not be anchored by more upscale retailers, like Trader Joe's.

The shopping center would be anchored by Aldi and Ross Dress for Less. [Clark Street Real Estate]

Clark Street Real Estate principal Peter Eisenberg said the retail businesses that are thriving are those — like Aldi and Ross — that offer "quality goods at reasonable prices."

Aldi and Ross — which have not yet signed leases for the property — would take up about 50 percent of the shopping center, while negotiations are underway with two other retailers that would lease another 30 percent of the center, Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg declined to say what businesses other than Aldi and Ross were interested in the center, but said fast-casual restaurants as well as locally owned small businesses would be a good fit.

[Clark Street Real Estate]

The design of the triangular shopping center, which is veiled with slotted metal bars, drew mixed reviews at the meeting.

While some complemented the north point of the one-story building as looking like Wrigley Field, others said they did not care for the varying height of the shopping center's façade along Milwaukee Avenue and Irving Park Road.

The design of the 100,000-square-foot shopping center has not yet been finalized, with Eisenberg saying discussions were underway about whether to add a second story to the north point of the building at Irving Park Road, Cicero and Milwaukee avenues.

[Clark Street Real Estate]

The one-story shopping center, which is not asking for any money from the Portage Park Tax Increment Financing District, requires a zoning change because of the size of the site and the developer's desire to build more shops and offer a "wider range of uses," than the current rules allow, officials said.

The alderman would need to OK the zoning change for the all-commercial development.

Arena said he was excited about project, saying it — along with the redevelopment of another vacant Six Corners Bank of America building — had the potential to reverse "more than two decades of stagnation" in the area once known as the city's premiere shopping destination outside the Loop.

"There is a lot of work to do to get Six Corners back to being the Six Corners," Arena said. "But we are making big strides."

[Clark Street Real Estate]

If approved quickly by city officials, construction on the center could start this summer, with the first stores opening a year later, Eisenberg said.

The center will incorporate "historic" elements from the bank into the shopping center, Eisenberg said. Other parts of the once-ornate building have been salvaged by the Six Corners Association and the Northwest Chicago Historical Society and will be reused, Eisenberg said.

"We recognize the rich history of Six Corners," Eisenberg said.

Once complete, it would generate $1.4 million a year in sales and property tax revenue for the City of Chicago.

In addition to a parking lot with between 265 and 275 spots, the shopping center's roof would feature a covered pedestrian walkway to allow shoppers to cut across the triangular property at the heart of Six Corners, Eisenberg said.

[Clark Street Real Estate]

The company paid more than $10 million in June 2014 for the four-acre triangular property at the corner of Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road as well as a one-acre parking lot in the 3900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. No plans have been proposed for the parking lot.

Work has begun to demolish the former Bank of America building, with scaffolding installed earlier this week.

The Bank of America branch closed in December 2014 and a smaller branch opened just east of the six-point intersection through which 70,000 cars flow every day, according to city traffic data.

Several people said they were concerned the development would snarl traffic in an already congested area, despite the developer's attempt to attract pedestrians and bicyclists by widening sidewalks and offering bicycle parking.

A Divvy bike-sharing station is set to be built just outside the planned shopping center at Irving Park Road and Milwaukee Avenue.

The site was identified in a 2012 city-crafted master plan as one of the keys to restoring Six Corners to a measure of its former glory, when it was the busiest shopping district outside the Loop.

The master plan recommended a four- or five-story building on the site, to match the height of the Sears store across Irving Park and the Klee Building, which is diagonally across Cicero Avenue.

There should be 24,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor of that building and between 50 and 75 residential units on the floors above, according to the master plan.

In addition, the development should include a 7,300-square-foot courtyard to allow a public gathering area as well as new streets to chop the massive city blocks into more walkable chunks, according to the master plan.

The project will not include condominiums or apartments or any new streets, as called for in the master plan.

But the development will include a plaza to be built at the six-corner intersection. In addition, plans call for the development's sidewalks to be extended in places to create permanent People Spots in order to provide gathering spaces.

[Clark Street Real Estate]

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: