PORTAGE PARK — Last summer, crews broke ground on a massive retail hub in the narrow wedge between Milwaukee Avenue and Irving Park Road, promising a glittering new centerpiece for the ongoing revitalization of the Six Corners Shopping District.
Nearly a year later, the excavated site of the project — called the Point at Six Corners — remains an acre-sized crater at 4747 W. Irving Park Road.
Having scored final approval from the Chicago Plan Commission last March, developer Clark Street Real Estate trumpeted a 100,000-square-foot shopping center with a pedestrian plaza, Divvy Bike station and up to 275 parking spots.
A rendering of the Point at Six Corners released last year, before the design was approved by city planners [Clark Street Real Estate]
But a permit hasn't been issued for work on the site since September 2016, according to city records.
Despite the delay, neighbors can rest assured that the developer is still "moving forward with the development of the property," according to Peter Eisenberg, the group's principal.
Eisenberg and his team need a better idea of which tenants they can attract before they plant the first steel beams for the single-story complex, he told DNAinfo on Tuesday. An Aldi grocery store and Ross Dress for Less had been announced last year as anchors for the shopping center, but Eisenberg declined to say whether they're both still on board.
"We recognize that this is an extremely important piece of the Six Corners puzzle," Eisenberg said Tuesday. "We're making a significant investment of time and effort toward something that the neighborhood can be proud of, and which can be successful for many years to come."
But with that vision still on hold, neighbors like Joe Angelastri are growing anxious. Angelastri, who's operated City Newsstand at 4018 N. Cicero Ave. since 1988, used to sell papers to customers on their way to the huge Bank of America building before it was razed to make room for the Point, he said.
"It had been a functioning bank building there for almost a century, so I really hate to see it sit there vacant for so long," Angelastri said. "It's disappointing, for sure."
The store owner is especially surprised by the inaction because its one-story design is significantly smaller than what Clark Street Real Estate had originally proposed, he said.
The developer's first plan had more closely reflected the Six Corners Economic Development Master Plan, which envisioned a mixed-use development for the space, including up to 100 apartments.
But the developer was turned down when he asked Ald. John Arena (45th) to help finance the project with money from the Portage Park Tax Increment Financing district, according to Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff. The retail-only plan was the result.
"The alderman is very resistant to using TIF for private development if there isn't a clear public benefit beyond retail jobs and sales tax," Brugh said. "He strongly believes that if the public is going to fund a development with tax dollars, they need to be getting something direct from it."
Eisenberg has not asked for TIF dollars since the design was rolled out in its current form, Brugh said.
Heaping even more pressure onto the project's development is its neighbor across the street, Sears, whose iconic perch at 4730 W. Irving Park Road has defined Six Corners for more than 80 years. The chain has already shuttered dozens of stores around the country, including in Chicago, and neighbors are bracing for the city's last remaining branches to follow suit.
"There's a ton of stuff happening in Six Corners — it's in a much better place than it was five years ago," Brugh said. "We anticipate there's going to continue to be strong interest in that district, and we look forward to [the Point] being part of its revitalization."