Editor's note: This story has been edited to reflect the correct sizes of the buildings.
LITTLE VILLAGE — A retail plaza coming to the northwest corner of 26th Street and Sacramento Avenue in the Cook County Jail’s backyard might provide courthouse employees and visitors new options to eat.
A Mexican nightclub stood on the lot since the 1970s but closed last year. The restaurant next door, which went by the name of Mariscos El Fabuloso, went vacant many years before.
“The owner of the two buildings, Juvenal Garcia, had some problems he didn’t want to discuss and, unfortunately, a bank took over the property and auctioned it off,” said Ald. George Cardenas (12th). “That area has been sort of abandoned and I see this as a good opportunity.”
The building, now owned by developer Mitch Goltz of GW Properties, demolished the 6,000-square-foot former restaurant this spring. Plans call for a 5,200-square-foot building toward the rear of the lot, with ample parking space in front for multiple tenants.
Panda Express already signed a lease and will move into the new building by the end of the year, Goltz confirmed.
The developer is looking for daytime foot traffic from the Cook County Circuit Court and the neighborhood. Except for Popeye’s, a lunch food truck and the corner elotera selling Mexican-style corn, people wanting a quick lunch do not have a lot of options.
There are no plans to demolish the old nightclub, but the 9,000-square-foot building will be remodeled into up to three storefronts, depending on interest.
Cardenas would like to see a Starbucks in the plaza. He said he isn’t worried that a chain store could alter the small business character or cultural feel of 26th Street.
“There are no coffee shops in that area so I would like them to consider that,” he said. “I’m not afraid to bring in a national chain, if you will. We have McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts in Little Village and we don’t seem to mind those.”
Starbucks officials did not respond to a request for comment. Goltz said there are currently no negotiations with the coffee chain.
Construction is already underway and is expected to be completed in November.
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