Harper Court sale and redevelopment. Cache #4, mid 2007 to mid 2008

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To following cache, #5, late 2008-summer 2009.

Prepared by Gary Ossewaarde

 

Mid 2007

Harper Court redevelopment cooled off for a while, spaces were being re-let--although formally still on a month-to-month basis, and judging from the presentation by Irene Sherr at the July 9 2007 TIF meeting on a workshop method for designing mid to large retail sites from the bottom up, the Alderman was willing to take a breather and let new ideas of what to do with Harper Court emerge. Other community organizations offered to help.

At the September 10 2007 TIF adv. council meeting and later, Ald. Preckwinkle said that the city had completed an assessment of the Court and city lot valuation (to be discussed with the Foundation) and would release in the future a pre qualification document for prospective respondents to an RFP (to be issued later). The city's spokesperson said the city has been working on such an issue for over 3 years. Request for qualifications is a much less expensive or detailed assessment or prescreening of interested parties. Respondents will be winnowed to 5 or so teams that will proceed, presumably with vetting. It is after the pre qualification winnowing that there will be a window for such a thing as community workshop such as the Corridor Housing Initiative model, highlighted immediately below. The September TIF meeting was told there is much developer interest in Harper Court.

From the Sept. 10 TIF meeting minutes:

Alderman's Report: Alderman Preckwinkle introduced James Wilson of the Department of Planning who shared information on the development process for Harper Court. Mr. Wilson explained that t he department had asked for and accepted as fair an appraisal of the parking lot and Harper Court parcels. In October or early November a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be issued. This will determine who might be interested in developing the site. Applications will be examined, and 3 to 5 developers will be asked to submit a detailed plan. Mr. Wilson will return to the TIF Council meeting in November to inform the community of progress to date. In response to a question from the audience, Alderman Preckwinkle reminded those present that the bonds issued to originally establish Harper Court have been repaid and that the Harper Court Arts Foundation, who owns the property, will sell the property. The Foundation has stated its intent to use that money to support art projects in the community. The existing zoning for the site is planned development which was created when Harper Court was built originally.

From Hyde Park Herald Sept. 19 2007. Harper Sale back; Harper Court Arts Council returns to plan to sell out, set up an arts fund. By Yvette Presberry

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) confirmed last week that steps would be taken to eventually sell and redevelop Harper Court Shopping Center, 5211 S. Harper Ave., by the entity that owns it, the Harper Court Arts Council. The announcement ends an ongoing silence during which the Council was investigated by [Illinois] Attorney [General] Lisa Madigan and residents called for an open development process and condemned the Council's intent to sell the property and endow a fund.

Based on an appraisal made on Harper Court and the adjoining parking lot, Preckwinkle said she and the Department of Planning would meet with the Council to discuss the appraisal amount as well as a request for qualification. A request for qualification (RFQ) allows the city to determine whether potential developers are qualified to compete to offer ideas on development at a project. Preckwinkle said that she is waiting for a date to be set between the Council, its attorney and herself to discuss the idea of the Council selling Harper Court to a developer who would redevelop both the property and the parking lot.

The alderman said that she could not disclose the amount since the Council had not formally agreed to the mount. "It's not public information," Preckwinkle said. She said she would release t he information tot he public at the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing Council (TIF) meeting on Nov. 12.

The Council discussed selling Harper Court last year, stating that the original purpose of the property, to promote the success of small local businesses and artisans since the shopping center's establishment in 1965, had changed. Harper Court was built and set up to provide space for local artisans that were displaced by Urban Renewal. they, as well as local businesses in Harper Court, were able to pay affordable rental prices while providing services to Hyde Park and Kenwood.

Representatives of the Council last year insinuated that Harper Court's market value was dramatically more than the rent they received from their business tenants. The Board of Directors stated in a 2006 public letter that funds from the sale of Harper Court would enable the expansion of the Arts Council.

Madigan's investigation was triggered by the Council's effort to replace the mission of the body with an arts endowment-oriented purpose. Madigan did not find any illegal activity warranting prosecution.

Preckwinkle said a request for proposals would be the next step alter an RFQ was made and approved. During this time, developers would then compete in offering development ideas for the property.

During the Sept. 10 53rd Street TIF meeting, James Wilson of the city's Department of Planning said out-of-state developers have displayed interest in redeveloping Harper Court.

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Here is a report on Irene Sherr's presentation, prepared by Trish Morse:

A new way of looking at development, density, and how to design specific parcels from the ground up may come to Hyde Park fall 2007. See more following.

Irene Sherr, counsel to the TIF, rolled out at the July TIF meeting research she and Pat wilcoxen did that point to a kind of familiarizing exercise that could be applied to Harper Court and other larger parcels. HPKCC is also interested in cosponsoring the workshop organization from the University of Minnesota that may be interested in coming here, or it could be emulated with help of local organizations or experts such as those (SOM) who produced the 2000 Vision for Hyde Park Retail and other studies. Here are details, prepared by Trish Morse, HPKCC board member.

Irene Sherr then made a presentation on Density. She handed out a quiz from the website of the Lincoln Land Policy Institute (www.lincolninst.edu/index-high.asp) that showed that assumptions of what density looked like weren't accurate and also how density and use of public transit were related. Irene Sherr and Pat Wilcoxen had been looking at a not-for-profit program in Minneapolis called the Corridor Housing Initiative (www.center4neighborhoods.org/corridor_housing.htm), which has developed a series of workshops that train participants to think about economically viable land use that balances density and affordability. It's a bottom-up planning process. The CHI website has a "cookbook" on how to go about the process. She sees this as something that builds on the generic guidelines developed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill nine years ago.


Harper Court and mixed signals

Based on HPKCC August 2 2007 board meeting and August 8 Herald article by Yvette Presberry

Harper Court, which had been allowing only month-to-month leases or not renewing, is now leasing again, for up to two years. HPKCC President George Rumsey raised eyebrows at the reversal and apparent reappearance of Harper Court Foundation, supposed to have been dissolved in early 2006. Rumsey said, "This is very disturbing. Who's signing these leases?" Two recent long-term signers are State Senator Kwame Raoul and U.S. Compute (from Herald building). Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC board member, said Harper Court is giving mixed signals, which is bad for retail: "Are we driving our our local small businesses?" (Nancy Stanek cited as one reason for her move from Harper Court to Hyde Park Shopping Center in late 2006 refusal of Harper Court to sign long-term leases.)

Ossewaarde tied the zigzagging policy and treatment of Dr. Wax to deviation from the original public mission to support and bring in small, especially arts-related businesses. "The Harper Court Foundation is not carrying out the original mission," Ossewaarde told the HPKCC board.

Kleiner shows it can be done, July 25 07 Herald editorial says; calls on TIF to fund planning like above using TIF funds.

If you haven't been to Harper Court for a while, you're in for a surprise. Restaurateur Jerry Kleiner demonstrates in dramatic fashion what can be done by his transformation of 5401 S. Harper Ave. From hand-painted bricks and wood paneling to an altogether new entryway, the Hyde Park Grill's exterior is a blueprint for Harper Court's future and likely magnet for a remade Harper Court. The interior was reportedly an extensive amount of work. The point is...it can be done.*

[*This "Scan Furniture" building was constructed after Harper Court using different methods: Kleiner's and Checkerboard Lounge's remake in this structure are not proof that the current HC buildings can be successfully so remodeled. The "point" may be that Harper Court's successful redesign, with or without the current buildings, has a model and should be pursued, perhaps starting with a workshop/charette such a that suggested at the July 9 TIF meeting. Read on for the agenda of the Herald and its publisher Bruce Sagan, who is very involved in desire to save Harper Court through revitalization. Ed. GMO]

So lets do it. As we report this we this week, the 53rd street Tax Increment Financing district, purportedly designed to revitalize the area, has amassed another half-million dollars this year. This is our money reserved for our community. We believe public and open development of of 53rd Street and anchoring institutions like Harper Court are long overdue.

The quickest and most efficient use of TIF money is to begin restoring Harper Court immediately and revisit the mission of he court at the same time. What retail do we need in Hyde Park? How can we draw new artists and support the ones we already have through retail space development?

The opening of Hyde Park Grill will be a singular marketing opportunity for Harper Court, and the Harper Court Foundation would be remiss if that opportunity is not taken.

The restaurant marks the completion of the buildings's renovation, begun when the Checkerboard Lounge, 5201 S. Harper Ave., relocated to Hyde Park. People who have never visited Hyde Park are being drawn to the spot. We need to make sure they coming and visit businesses not only in Harper Court but also 53rd Street and beyond.

We understand there are other priorities**--the annex for Canter Middle School, for example--that have been agreed upon as priorities for TIF dollars.

We could begin a well-financed planning process with a top-notch planning organization using the interest alone accruing from the nearly $2 million the fund has collected. Now is the time to be proactive. And Jerry, welcome to the neighborhood.

[**When Ald. Preckwinkle and the city Dept. of Planning set up the TIF, they said it was not to aid developers but to provide public amenities and other pubic purposes. Still, it is formally a "commercial district" TIF.] Top

Is treatment of Dr. Wax in 2007 summer indicative of Harper Court turning its back on its original purpose, Hyde Park and the arts?

[online petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/drwax123]

Another Hyde Park staple forced out. Botched Dr. Wax lease with Harper Co ut to blame. Hyde Park Herald, August 1, 2007. By Nykeya Woods

Sam Greenburg has been slowly telling customers that his longtime Hyde Park record store Dr. Wax will have to close at the end of August. As a result, loyal shoppers have started an online petition to try to save the 15-year-old establishment. "Everyone is bummed out," Greenburg told the Herald.

"I didn't tell anyone this week until I was pretty sure I couldn't find another location." Greenburg never expected that he would have to voluntarily close. More than one year ago, he submitted a proposal tot he Harper Court foundation to renegotiate his monthly rent from $3,000 to $2,000, he said. In the letter, Greenburg indicated that he would go back to his original rent price once business picked up. Business rebounded in February and he began paying $2,200, he said.

Then [they] called [me] into the [office on] June 22. [They] told [me] that they wanted their back rent, which was about $15,000. [Leslie Cole Morgan] said that [they] got [my] letter, but [they] never signed anything to that effect. [They want the back rent," Greenburg said. "So basically we came to a mutual agreement that I would close at the end of August." Harper court Foundation President Leslie Cole Morgan declined to comment.

Greenburg said that he does not want to close the store, but at present, he has no other option. So far he has been unable to find another location in the neighborhood and has even looked in nearby Bronzeville.

Greenburg moved from Columbus, Ohio to Lincoln Park, where he opened a record store in the late 1970s. Several years later he moved to the neighborhood and opened Dr. Wax in the location currently occupied by Hyde Park Produce, 1312 E. 53rd st., around 1987. Greenburg then opened two additional Dr. Wax stores in Edgewater and Evanston, neither of which he currently owns. "Dr. Wax is more than just a store. That's mainly because of the employees," Greenburg said. "The two mainstays, Charles Williams and Duane Powell, are the main reason people come to this store." Greenburg said that his employees have included local hip-hop and independent rock artists, and several DJs from WGCI.

Local DJs like Kymya, who uses only one name, are shocked that Dr. Wax may close. "If we lose Dr. Wax it will be like a smack in the face to people who are not only DJs, but people who love music.".. Kymya said that Greenburg carries a variety of musical genres that is hard to find on the South Side. She also said that the store offers multiple mediums like vinyl LP{s and CDs, new or used for those on a budget. "This is kind of a staple in the music industry, [having] a place where you can get underground music. It's just horrible that it will close," Kymya said.

Hyde Park resident Marcus Davis was so disgusted by the possible closure that he started an online petition, petitionline.com/drwax123. At herald press time the petition was less than a week old and had nearly 227 signatures. " I know the petition is not going to be enough in and of itself to stop Dr. Wax from closing," Davis said. "But I hope that it can serve as sort of a persuasive representation of just how much of an impact the store has had and t hat can help to galvanize the community and embarrass Ald. [Toni] Preckwinkle and Harper Court Foundation into considering the steps to be taken to hopefully prevent the store from closing. "

Davis, also a DJ, said that the store has helped local artists, like vocalist Tanya Reed. (Reed signed the online petition and sid that her CD, "Tanya Reed Live In Chicago," benefited from being in the record store.)

Davis also said that allowing the record store to close is contrary to Harper Court founding mission- to provide a location for artists and artists and displaced by Urban Renewal. He questioned the future of independent businesses in Hyde Park. "To see an institution like Dr. wax be pushed out I guess in the interest of market rent I t think that it kind of goes in the face of the original intent. It speaks to a larger trend in Hyde Park period, in terms of making it a mall," Davis said.

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lenora Austin said that Dr. wax would be a major loss for music lovers and the business community. She said those who have gone to the internet for music are overlooking personal touch Dr. Wax provides. "I know people that use the Internet for the kind of services that Greenburg provides, but the experience is not the same," Austin said.

Greenburg has been on a month-to-month contract with the foundation since last year. He is planning on talking to the University of Chicago about its vacancies.


Letter August 15 2007 by Hadas Friedman in Herald: Harper Court on road to ruin

In the article about Harper Court, "Mixed Signals at Harper Court" (Aug. 8), the mission of the Harper Court Foundation was cited as existing to support local artisans and small business owners and encouraging new ones. The removal of the chess benches in 2002 from the court marked one of the first deviations of the Harper Court foundation from its mission.

Aside from driving out businesses such as Dr. Wax, the actions of the Harper Court Foundation have cause the courtyard to become an unpleasant area to walk through. The lack of food traffic has made the formerly lively area a dead and dangerous zone. As I reported in the Nov. 20, 2002 issue of the Herald, the removal of the chess benches "resulted in a significant loss of business [for] many of the Harper Court stores." Just as with the current issue of Dr. wax's possible departure, the Foundation refused to comment back in 2002.

Letter August 22 2007by Marcus E. Davis in Herald says Court board puts greed over culture

While I remain hopeful Dr. Wax will be able to continue its existence at a different location, I find it a tremendous embarrassment that the Harper Court Foundation (HCF) has failed to respond to the community's outcry both in Chicago and around the world to save this cultural hub.

When I started the online petition asking HCF to reconsider its decision to price Dr. wax out of Harper Court, petitiononline.com/drwax123, I never imagined it would elicit the type of response it has . At the time of this letter, almost 1,600 people have offered their support, and the numbers continue to grow.

People from a myriad of backgrounds and from as far away as Africa have left heartfelt comments about how much this store has impacted their life and how tremendous a loss it would be to see it not around for future generations.

Yet HCF's Board of Directors continues to hide behind its Executive Director Leslie Cole Morgan, who refuses to engage the community about the future o the Hyde Park legend in a transparent fashion.

I suppose this is not surprising considering the manner in which Harper Court has been eroded over the years, best represented by the razing of the historic chess boards which served as a place where different generations and cultures could convene and discover each other.

People my call be dramatic for being so incensed about the closing of a record store. Much larger stores such as Virgin Mega Store and Tower Records have all fallen in the wake of the digital age. But that analysis is not applicable here.

Dr. Wax embodies the spirit of creativity and independence that supposedly comes from being a Chicagoan. For years, they have proven their dedication to working in concert with the community to cultivate our emerging but still fragile music scene. Their sales have actually rebounded in the last year.

And it is simply offensive that, in a city where we give billion-dollar corporations tax breaks worth thousands of dollars, no one from the alderman down, can see it fit to preserve this most essential place.

Those at the Harper Court Foundation so consumed with greed they disrespect the obvious desires of the people should be ashamed of themselves. They should also be prepared for the repercussions.

The soul of Hyde Park is being exported in a very clandestine manner. I hope those in the community continue to show their disapproval and pressure the HCF and our elected officials to do something to turn this nonsense around.

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Herald editorial August 22 2007 summarizes it all, warns of need for vigilance

We are relieved to report that, while details have yet to be worked out, Dr. wax will not be closing down and will remain in Hyde Park. It simply makes sense that a specialty music store that has formed such a successful relationship with its clientele would continue to thrive, even in the face of obstacles owner Sam Greenburg faced this summer. What remains a mystery, however, is why he ever had a problem to begin with.

the sequence of events, as explained by Greenburg, is odd, to say the least. Dr. Wax has been in Harper Court since the late '90s, developing a following of DJs and historic album collectors. More than 15 months ago, after a slowdown in business, Greenburg presented the staff of the Harper Court Foundation a rent concession plan. He got no reply and so began paying the proposed reduced rate. suddenly, this June, the foundation's Executive Director Leslie Cole-Morgan presented Greenburg with a $15,000 bill--their claimed back rent, assuming he had never got the concession. Greenburg took the hint and began weighing relocation versus closure. we applaud his choice to stay in Hyde Park, but this in no way clears up the confusion created by the actions of the Harper Court Foundation. Not only haven't they explained their behavior to Greenburg, they haven't explained themselves to the community.

This is just the latest in a series of missteps by the Harper Court Foundation/Arts Council, a group charged with not only maintaining the property and keeping the storefronts full but also with incubating businesses and supporting artists and artisans in the neighborhood. Other tenants have complained that they couldn't get long-term leases, and there is a shroud of mystery over the foundation's plans for the retail center generally. This is not reassuring behavior from a group that once attempted to quietly sell off the property to developers.

What are we to conclude? It seems as though the Harper Court Foundation is bent on demonstrating the property is unviable. The pattern resembles tactics straight out of the old Chicago real estate developer playbook: Empty out a property, let it run down and just wait for the calls for demolition. Is this what's happening?

Harper Court has special value to Hyde Park. The ideas built into the brick and mortar of the place have a unique purpose as well. Harper Court was founded to help Hyde Park find businesses and services it needed and to promote inexpensive space for creative entrepreneurs.

As long as the actions of the foundation continue to raise more questions than they answer, we must redouble our vigilance as a community. We know foundation members were at one time poise to sell out the property and it mission. With no assurance otherwise, we must assume this risk is still present.

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In the September 12 20o7 Herald Joseph Kelly suggests demolishing and using the recycled material from the former Goldblatt's at 47th and Ashland in a new Harper Court-- and call it Marshall Fields.

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View Chicago Tribune article October 14 2007.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/news/chi-mxa1014hydeparkoct14,0,6146963.story

Art irritates life? Debate over rehabbing or razing of Harper Court is as eclectic as the mall tenants and its Hyde Park neighbors

By Janice Neumann | Special to the Tribune
October 14, 2007

Since its opening in 1965, Harper Court has served as a novel artistic and retail hub in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

But the mall's last heyday was in the late '80s and early '90s. Its decline, along with an aging infrastructure, has sparked a debate over the question of whether to tear it down or renovate it -- pitting Hyde Park traditionalists against its young blood.

To understand the fuss, you must know what makes the neighborhood distinctive: It's home to the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, vintage housing stock, new residential development and a well-educated, racially integrated and socially aware population.
"For the same reasons it's not a good idea to tear down Williamsburg [the historic settlement in Virginia] because it's an old city ... it's part of our heritage," says Charlotte Des Jardins, one of the original investors in Harper Court and a proponent of saving it.

David Hoyt, 38, a lecturer at the University of Chicago's Graham School of General Studies, counters that the structure of the mall, which occupies Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets, needs to be changed because it's too 1960s -- too closed in and isolated from the street.

Hoyt and a handful of others have become increasingly upset with what they see as anti-development sentiment in the area, which is why he started a blog called Hyde Park Progress, a forum with the stated purpose of "promoting reasonable economic improvement in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood."

As such, it includes debate over a broad range of possible changes in Hyde Park, including the chance that big-box stores like Target may move in.

The Harper Court debate has been going on for nearly two years, since a community newspaper reported that the Harper Court Arts Council was trying to sell the property it "acquired" in an agreement with the Harper Court Foundation without community input.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) has stepped in, asking the city's Department of Planning and Development to invite developers to submit development proposals for the mall, plans that are expected to be released soon.

The next step is a Request for Qualifications, which could be completed to be made public at a Nov. 19 tax-increment financing Advisory Council meeting. Three to five developers will be chosen to prevent plans to Preckwinkle, the Harper Court Arts Council and Department of Planning officials.

Preckwinkle would not predict how long the process could take. Irene Sherr, a consultant on the 53rd Street TIF district, said a community meeting will be held in early December.

That leaves residents with little to do now but argue about what should be done.

"People are attached to a certain vision that might have been appropriate 50 years ago, but the circumstances have changed and they haven't changed their vision," said Hoyt, who would like to see storefronts extend to the streets. "It is a product of '60s-era urban design, which is very much outdated."

Harper Court was the vision of Muriel Beadle, wife of former University of Chicago President George Beadle, and other residents. To fund its construction, they sold about $120,000 worth of bonds to the community, including the University of Chicago, and secured a loan of $480,000 from the federal Small Business Administration. John T. Black was the architect, and a group of community residents and activists, including Beadle, oversaw the plan.

When Harper Court opened in 1965, commercial enterprises at street level paid market rent while rent for the art shops in the basement was subsidized.

Today it has about 23 stores -- including small shops such as Alise's Designer Shoes and Dr. Wax Records -- as well as restaurants including the Calypso Cafe, Maravillas and the Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop, offices, a veterinarian and the Checkerboard Lounge, a storied jazz and blues club that moved from Bronzeville in late 2005. It also has several vacancies, and the only art concern left is Artisans 21, part co-op/part gallery.

The property, which is part of a TIF district, also includes a parking lot.

"I would say Harper Court, at least in terms of its physical layout, design and appeal for people walking through it, is one of the most successful spaces to come out of urban renewal," said Max Grinnell, a lecturer on urban studies at the University of Chicago's Division of Social Sciences and author of "Images of America: Hyde Park, Illinois."

"There are not many other places I can think of in the city or United States where they tried on a small scale to maintain sort of an artist's colony," he added.

But that has made even several tenants skeptical of its sustainability, saying artists often are more interested in their craft or product than profit.

And there are issues beyond the philosophical. Take the 42-year-old infrastructure.

"I've had to tell people, 'No you can't come here, this place is flooded today,'" said Dr. Thomas Wake, a Harper Court tenant since 1981 who has built a thriving veterinary practice in one of the basement spaces, which he said floods frequently. Wake and other tenants attribute the flooding and other problems to the Harper Court Foundation's failure to keep up the property. They say it has mismanaged the mall and remained answerable only to itself. The latter charge arises not only from the foundation's remaining mum about its intention to sell the property, but also from its shift in mall assets to the Harper Court Arts Council, a tax-exempt non-profit, in 2005.

"The people on this board are bank presidents, lawyers," board member Nancy Rosenbacher said, in response to the charges of mismanagement, adding that all eight board members live in Hyde Park.

"We're not saying tear it down and build a strip mall. We would like to see something really nice for the community. Small businesses are extremely important," added Paula Jones, president of the foundation and council.

She said part of the foundation's original mission was to be a "leading organization in supporting the arts, in addition to retail development," but had become more of a "property manager."

"We're trying to balance it ... by still supporting small businesses in one form or another but not through ownership of the court ... we're looking for someone who can do it bigger and better than we can," Jones said.

Henry Webber, vice president of community and government affairs at U. of C., said the university would like to see "a high-quality, mixed-use development ... a vibrant, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week contributor to the town center of Hyde Park."

The university looked into buying the property several years ago, but backed out when it could not agree on a price with the council. Webber declined to comment on whether the university is still interested in the property.

Whatever the future of the mall, residents and community leaders want a say in it.

"I think it belongs to the community; it was paid for by community assets, it should be answerable to the community," said George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

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William A Knack, planning expert, sets forth points for Harper Court in a larger context. See following by Joseph Kelly

If Harper Court is to be redeveloped, let's do it right.

  1. Widen the scope of the thing. Take into account the traffic patterns-especially the really stupid double stoplight that clutters things up at 53rd and Harper/Lake Park.
  2. Turn the northwest corner of 53rd and Lake Park into a little park like the one that used to be across the street, where the clumsy Borders building is now.
  3. Do not put the garage (if anyone can realize enough cash flow to make one work) right on Lake Park. Set it back from the street. Use the old Art Deco garage at 55th and Lake Park as a model. Maximize first-floor commercial space.
  4. Make 53rd one wy east between Blackstone [Harper?] and Lake Park. Route westbound traffic behind the 53rd street stores (Valois, Mellow Yellow) to Blackstone and Back to 53rd. You make a one-way loop and kill about six traffic birds with one stone.
  5. Do not put Harper through between 52nd and 53rd. The little court is a treasure and should remain. It also protects the adjacent residential areas.
  6. Be selective in tearing down the Harper Court buildings. Try to include as many as you can.
  7. Don't just throw the site open to the proposers. Tell them some of the things they must include--such as making better use of the corner of 53rd and Harper and including some senior housing capacity in their mix of uses.
  8. Make one more attempt to get the university to put a movie house/stage in the Hyde Park theater building.
  9. Don't be afraid of higher density and even an eight-or 10-story building.
  10. Induce the bank to move its drive-up windows to the parking lot behind Borders. Lay out the bank employee lot, what's left of the Borders lot, and Harper Avenue [Old Lake Park?] into a new parking lot. Clean it up and increase capacity. It shouldn't be hard to make an improvement given the mess we have now.
  11. The Co-op shopping center was definitely not improved by the way the stores were added at the north end at 54th Street. Talk about a discard zone. The stores turn their backs on the main shopping street (53rd)--the bank, the bank lot, borders, everything. Make a broad, friendly pedestrian connection fro 54th Street to the Co-op. Hide, shield, eliminate the truck docks. They are unsightly and seem grossly overdesigned. I almost never see a truck in there. Certainly we can make better use of this space than the way it is being used now.
  12. Include the site of the McDonald's restaurant in the RFP. We can do better than that.
  13. Hire and architect/planner or find some really competent volunteers to work on the people's side of the RFP before you send out a request. Write a real program with specific suggestions for traffic, site character and uses.
  14. Don't be in a hurry. Athens wasn't built in a day. We've had some really awful examples of civic building/development lately in the city (Trump Tower) and closer to home, some of the recent university work. Please be the one who stops it. Your name will go down in history if you succeed. Top

Joseph Kelly outlines a plan to improve retail in Hyde Park. Herald October 24, 2007

I've been trying to find ways of improving the retail part of Hyde Park. By combining the development of village Shopping Center with the development of Harper Court, an indoor mall could be built between 51st Street and 53rd Street.

Lake Park Avenue and 51st Street is the transportation hub of Hyde Park where several bus routes and the Electric Metra Station meet. In my thinking, there would be three anchor stores to this mall:

The mall could be modeled after the Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Milwaukee. It could be built for energy conservation, a solar hot water laundromat, a solar bakery and a green roof.

Now, all we need is a development company. Top

February 20 208 Kelly calls for an indoor mall 52nd to 51st, Bring Esquire to Hyde Park.

The Esquire theater was built in 1938 at 53 E. Oak St. in the Gold Coast. It was one of the last great "movie palaces" and was named after a magazine for men.Its "arts moderne" style benefited from local association with the popular streamline Century of Progress exhibition of 1933-34.

In 1990, the movie theater was divided into a six-plex. It wa done to make it more economical, but it destroyed much of its character. Only the southern (street) facade was able to obtain Red status from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. it was closed on Sept. 14, 2006.

In my proposed plans to build an indoor shopping center in Hyde Park, I'm trying to bring back a movie theater to the neighborhood . By moving the facade of the Esquire Theater to Hyde Park, several things can be tied together. The main floor could be used as a solar hot water Laundromat. with innovative technology, the theater would generate its own energy. Window quilts and bead walks could be used to retain heat energy.

The site of the new Esquire Theater would along 51st street between Blackstone and Harper avenues. The former Piccadilly theater would be to its west. This would include the Boulevard Shopping Center and 5110--5114 S. Harper Ave.

 

Linda Cory says Hotel should go to the Harper Court site. Herald, Nov. 7 2007

There has been much discussion of two Hyde Park development proposals--the hotel planned for the Doctors Hospital site on Stony Island Avenue and the ale and redevelopment of Harper Court. According to the Herald, the University of Chicago has explored the idea of buying Harper Court. The university should purse that acquisition while at the same time working with the city to secure development rights for the parking lot at Lake Park Avenues and 53rd Street.

Then, build the proposed hotel on the Lake Park/Harper Court site. There are benefits to this approach.

First the area around the Lake Park parking lot and Harper Court is already a vital commercial spot with activities that would attract hotel guests. There are several good restaurants within walking distance. Borders is there, as is the Checkerboard Lounge. And, the proximity of the Metra would provide hotel guests with easy access to downtown and North Side activities.

Second, the influx of hotel guest will help existing businesses and bring new commercial development along 53rd street that will benefit all Hyde Park residents.

Third, the neighborhood around the Doctors Hospital is largely residential. There will be ongoing conflicts between local residents and the hotel over parking, traffic, noise and a host of other issues. These conflicts will be eliminated if the hotel is located in the commercial area along Lake Park Avenue and 53rd Street.

Encouraging the University, the alderman, the Harper Court Board and the city to pursue this could be very beneficial to our community.

 

Charlotte Des Jardins again asks, Who is making decisions for development in Hyde Park (mainly re Harper Court) in October 10 2007 Herald. She asks why a high rise there when other sites go vacant.

Do we really need another high-rise in Hyde Park? Is there really a rush of developers to build a high-rise at 53rd Street/Cornell Avenue and 53rd Street/Kenwood- two sites that have been empty for years? So, why are plans to build a high-rise in Harper Court proceeding, when there are other neighborhood properties that have been vacant for years?

Also, is it sound financial planning to sell community property at a time when real estate prices are at a record low? The buyer benefits when real estate prices are low, not the seller. In this case, the seller would be the community.

Why is the Harper Court Arts Council (HCAC) making Harper Court decisions on behalf of the community when the HCAC was not elected by members of the community to represent them? Can we trust the HCAC members to make decisions on behalf of the community when their own behavior demonstrates that they have always behaved as though Harper Court is their own personal property? Can we trust the HCAC to distribute funds from the contemplated sale of Harper Court in a fair and equitable manner to community art projects as the HCAC has publicly stated?

Can we trust the fourth Ward alderman to represent community interests--and not the personal interests of her personal friends on the HCAC--in the city council and the city council committees, which will likely be reviewing plans for Harper Court, since Harper Court was built on Urban Renewal land?

These re questions that have yet to be answered since the revelation of the HCAC plan to sell Harper Court almost two years ago.

Harper Court is a community asset that came out of the community's commitment to provide low-cost rental space for community artisans and small businesses when many of these were displaced by Hyde Park community's Urban Renewal program.

The University of Chicago, a prime mover in the community's Urban Renewal program, along with many residents including myself, made this commitment more than 40 years ago.

The demolition of Harper Court does not make sense, especially at this time when major portions of 53rd Street are being improved by maintaining their original character.

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In Feb. 2001 Artisans 21 cites enthusiasm for what they are doing, a continuing of original mission.

More diverse and diversity of views summarized in September 28 Maroon

By Mischa Fierer

Harper Court, the historic shopping center northeast of the University campus that serves as a commercial and social hub for many Hyde Park residents, will be put up for sale by the nonprofit Hyde Park Arts Council, which has debated the move for years.

The sale is being coordinated by Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, who took over after concerns arose that the Arts Council was not conducting the sale properly. The council, a tax-exempt, non-profit organization that runs the 57th Street Art Fair [sic!!!- Is the fiscal agent for the Community Art fair], suggested in 2006 that the property is worth significantly more than the [Council] makes in rent from the current businesses. Proceeds from the sale would be used to fund an arts endowment.

The council has been planning to sell Harper court since 2003, amid criticism from some community members. According to George Rumsey, president of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, neighborhood opportunity to influence the process has been "zilch."

Harper Court was originally established in the 1960s during the tumultuous period of U of C-led urban renewal, as cheap commercial space was bought, torn down, and redeveloped. The renewal efforts revitalized some of the neighborhood's poorer areas but also made the area unaffordable for lower income residents; Hyde Park's jazz scene was one of urban renewal's casualties. Harper Court was established to give space to some of the businesses that were being pushed out.

Harper Court's mission, according to the Arts Council's website, is to help promote "economic development" in Hyde Park by "providing retail space" for restaurants and stores at "considerably more reasonable rates" than other neighborhood locations.

Some Hyde Park residents now argue that the original mission of Harper Court is outdated. Hyde Park Progress, a blog created by and anonymous resident of the neighborhood and employee of the University, provides a forum for residents hoping to encourage economic development. "[Harper Court] is as much a product--in the very design and layout of the buildings--of '60s worldview as the urban renewal programs against which it was a response. Those who are attached to Harper Court are in love with its mission and blind to the empirical fact that the site and the institution have not met their own goals nor met the pressing and changing needs of the community,"said the author, adding that it looks more like a "ski lodge in Aspen" than a part of Hyde Park's distinctive architecture.

In response to a different entry on the same blog, a reader wrote, "I am thinking of opening a typewriter repair shop in Harper Court myself," implying that the shops in Harper Court are outdated and not worth saving.

Others contend that Harper Court is still relevant and necessary. In an August 16, 2006 editorial, the Hyde Park Herald suggested that the council board is "tired" of running the Court and that they should step down and "let other people who still believe in Harper Court's purpose take over."

Many U of C students are fond of the restaurants but do not frequent the shops. "It's just a cool place to chill," said fourth-year Van Kluytenaar, who said that while he enjoys Mexican restaurant Maravillas, he would not miss the various shops.

The entire sale process will probably take around two years. According to Rumsey, shops in the court are on a month-to-month leasing schedule and tenants are "unofficially" being told that they are "probably going to be there for two years."

In the sale process itself, developers will first petition to submit proposals. Preckwinkle and the Department of Planning will review the qualifying developers' proposals and consult with the community before selecting a developer. Rumsey hopes that community involvement will be "broad and deep" but worries that to few people are currently involved in the sale.

Currently, it is unclear what kind of space Harper Court would become, although many fear that it would be converted into a residential area, contrary to the Court's original aim of being a uniquely Hyde Park retail area.

Because the Harper Court parcel (which includes the parking lot) is so large, Rumsey notes that whatever happens, it will have a big effect on Hyde Park's future. "Hyde Parker had better be thinking carefully," he said.

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Another approach. Attorney says Harper Court transfer illegal, asks Attorney General of Illinois for opinion.

Hyde Park Herald, February 27, 2008. By Kate Hawley

In the latest salvo over the Harper Court shopping center, a local attorney delivered a letter last Tuesday to attorney General Lisa Madigan, arguing that the recent reorganization of the property's ownership was illegal.

Harper Court, located on South Harper avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets, is run by a non-profit with a mission to promote a diverse art and retail mix. Declining business and deteriorating buildings have prompted its owners to consider selling the property. That in turn has sparked protest from some Hyde Park residents, who fear that control of the property will fall to a developer, cutting the community out.

Some of those residents, calling themselves Neighbors to Save Harper Court, contacted Madigan last January, asking her to look into the restructuring of the non-profit's ownership.

In late 205, the Harper Court Foundation, the shopping center's owner, transferred its assets to another non-profit, the Harper Court Arts Council. The Foundation's idea: to sell off the ailing mall and funnel the proceeds to the Arts Council, which would use the money to support the arts.

That's within the original mission of Harper Court, built in 1965 to aid Hyde Park artists displaced in Urban Renewal, Arts Council board members wrote in a letter published in the Herald in February last year.

Madigan looked into Harper Court's transfer of ownership and made some recommendations about how the Arts Council should reorganize, the Herald reported last May. Representatives of the Arts Council said then that they'd spent several months instituting those recommendations.

Attorney Jorge Sanchez, who penned the most recent letter to Madigan, argues that her office could do more. The transfer of assets was illegal, in his view. His case: first the foundation unlawfully installed its own members into director positions at the Arts Council to gain control over it.

Second, the foundation didn't dissolve after it transferred its assets, which he said violates Illinois laws governing non-profits and Harper Court's own articles of incorporation. The foundation still receives and processes checks from Harper Court's tenants, he said.

And third, Sanchez contends that the Arts Council isn't an organization that fulfills Harper Court's original mission, in part because its work promoting the arts doesn't help to preserve retail diversity.

The Arts Council declined to respond. The Herald reached board member Kenneth Grant last week, who said any calls should be directed to Leslie Morgan, executive director of Harper Court." I have nothing to say," she said. "Sorry, I have no comment."

Sanchez said that a number of local people support his position, though he declined to name them. Bruce Sagan, the Herald's owner, said he had consulted with Sanchez earlier in the year about the history of Harper Court and its change from the foundation to the Arts Council.

Sanchez, an attorney with the Chicago firm Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, lives in Hyde Park and attended Kenwood High School. "I remember eating lunch at Harper Court and watching the games," he said. "It was a meeting place, and a way for people to interact across boundaries. Given the real absence of public space in the neighborhood, it's a real asset."

The sale of Harper Court would endanger this asset, Sanchez said. "If the property is sold to a developer, that sort of puts an end to the involvement of community people to have a direct say over that property," he said.

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Reports and documents on the February 26 2007 community forum on Harper Court RFP process and timeline below.

A Harper Court Priorities Web Survey was conducted in late winter 2007. Preliminary results below and in the March 2008 Conference Reporter.

Thanks to everyone who participated and worked on it! Over 1600 responses at last released count. Over 56 pages of single-spaced comments!

March 10 TIF Advisory Council heard

1. Update from joint TIF Neighborhood & Business Environment& HPKCC
Development Committee on survey and development process - Jane Comiskey,
Co-Chair TIF Neighborhood & Business Environment & George Rumsey, President
of HPKCC

2. 53rd St. Vision Workshop; distribution of Draft 53rd St. Workshop
Report & discussion of next steps in planning process for 53d St. - Irene
Sherr, Community Counsel - consultant to SECC and 53rd St. TIF Council

Hyde Park Herald, March 19, 2008. By Sam Cholke

53rd St. dominates March TIF meeting

The 3rd Street TIF advisory council meeting on March 10 proved anticlimactic for those who anticipated a breakthrough on redevelopment of Harper Court.

George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park Kenwood community Conference, presented the initial results of a survey about how people want to see Harper Court redeveloped. The survey is a joint effort of the TIF council and HPKCC. Rumsey said the council has been getting about 00 responses a day and that slightly more since it put a link up on the social networking Web sit Facebook.com. There were more than 1,600 responses to the survey as of March 10, he said. The survey will be available until Thursday at hydepark.org/survey.

"Passing out results of the survey now could skew it," said Irene Sherr of Community Counsel, a local planning and development consulting firm. Rumsey contended that the results compiled so far were too general to dramatically alter the final data.

Half of the responses were from people ages 19 to 39, with ages 19-29 and 30-39 each accounting for about 25 percent of the total. Seventy percent identified themselves as white. "African American results doubled in the last week," Rumsey said. Eighteen percent of respondents identified themselves as African American or Black, according to Rumsey's preliminary results.

"People are really making use of the comment box," Rumsey said. Rumsey said he has 56 single-spaced pages of comments so far to go through. A lot of people say they want more businesses in the neighborhood that are open ate 9 p.m.--and that's not just coming from the younger respondents, it's across the board, he said.

Sherr next presented the draft report analyzing the poll results at the Dec. 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop. There was a tremendous amount of consensus in the results, Sherr said. Diversity of the community ranked very high, she said. "The element is something that comes up all the time when we talk about development," Sherr said. "What does that really mean if we want to have more retail and housing?"

Sherr said another obvious trend that arose in the polling was the desire to see 53rd Street treated like the main street of t he community. The draft report is available online at vision53.org.

A follow-up workshop will attempt to address the questions raised by the draft report. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to noon May 3 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 E. Blackstone Ave., Sherr confirmed Friday. Top

April 9, Wednesday, 7 pm.- community showing and comment, renderings of physical visions of what Harper Court and City Lot could look like and work. Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood. View one set of concepts at http://www.romerocook.com/hc.html. Others are expected to give their ideas.

Harper Court survey designs on tap for April 9 HP-K conference meeting

Hyde Park Herald, April 2, 2008. By Kate Hawley

The results of the Harper Court survey are in, and some of them will be revealed at the April 9 meeting of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave.

A broad array of community groups created the survey, which was meant to find out what kind of redevelopment local people want for the Harper Court shopping center, located on Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets. While a full analysis will take longer to develop, "preliminary results" will be announced April 9, said George Rumsey, conference president.

The survey circulated for a little more than a month, and in that time 1,697 people participated, according to Rumsey. "There are some very clear statement that came out of the survey," he said..

The most important issue of 73 percent of the participants: the development that replaces Harper Court should provide "well-lit ambience at night," Rumsey said.

Also on the agenda for the meeting: local planner Aaron Cook will again show his proposed designs for Harper Court. Cook's designs are meant to stimulate discussion in the community about what kind of development would best suit Harper Court, according to Jack Spicer, a member of the conference's Development Committee.

A developer hasn't yet been chosen for Harper Court. The city, which owns the parking lot adjacent to the shopping center, will issue a Request for Proposals for t he project, though no timetable has been set.


From the March 2008 (Vol. 14, No. 1) Conference Reporter on Harper Guidelines, Survey

The Conference in Action: HPKCC and 53rd Street TIF Survey Priorities for Harper RFP

by George W. Rumsey

As a followup to the very successful December 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop, the HPKCC Development Committee held a meeting on December 19 to explore other concerns about the retail development in Hyde Park. With the idea that the long-expected Harper Court "request for proposals" (RFP) might be brought before the January TIF meeting, members of the Development Committee felt it was time again to move Harper Court to the head of the list of concerns.

As it turned out, the RFP was not ready in January, but Alderman Toni Preckwinkle used the opportunity to request that the HPKCC Development Committee (chaired by Gary Ossewaarde) and the Neighborhood & Business Committee of he TIF assess the community's concerns for the forthcoming RFP.

At a large planning meeting on January 23, the two committees developed plans to conduct an online survey of community priorities for the redevelopment of Harper Court. A working group comprise od Trish Morse and Gary Ossewaarde (HPKCC) and Charles Newsome (TIF) agreed to review the large volume of documentation on Harper Court, and synthesize the results into a questionnaire framework.

The wording and order was discussed at length at a followup meeting on February 4. An overview group of Jane Comiskey, Irene Sherr, Pat Wilcoxen, and George Rumsey finalized and tested the questions, before launching the survey on February 23. To date, 1,688 respondents have taken the survey.

Survey participants were asked to rate each question on a scale of 5 (Very important) to 1 (Not important):

Redevelopment Goals for Harper Court:
1. Help create a gateway to 53rd Street business district
2. Relate to neighboring buildings through orientation and scale
3. Create a "destination" with appeal to diverse interests
4. Promote environmentally friendly principles (e.g., rooftop gardens, green technology, trees)

Development Components:
5 Retail (apparel)
6. Retail - other (for example, home furnishings, gifts, galleries, craft shops)
7. Restaurants (for example, sidewalk cafes, bakery, ethnic restaurants)
8. Hotel
9. Movie theatre
10 Performance space (for example, a resident theater group, music)
11. Bars and clubs
12. Public space for community events like Farmer's Markets
13. Office space for small businesses and professional services
14. Residential: condo or rental
15. Affordable and/or senior housing
16. Recreation (for example, health clubs, swimming pools, family activities)

Urban Design:
17. Make the landscaping welcoming, with trees, seating, flowers
18. Strengthen the pedestrian character of 53rd Street
19. Provide well-lit ambiance at night

Access, Circulation, and parking:
20. Multilevel parking garage to serve Harper Court and the Hyde Park business district
21. Accessible day and night, with improved transit and handicapped access
22. Planned and separated access for service vehicles and delivery

Public Comment on Proposed Development:
23. City should share evaluation criteria with community for review and comment
24. Selected developer finalists should present possible plans for community input and reaction

The Harper Court Original Mission:
25. The Harper Court Arts Council should use the proceeds from the sale of Harper Court to support the creation of affordable space for startup businesses, artisans, cooperative art galleries, etc.
26. Current tenants in Harper Court should be helped to stay in business.

Several document were used to create the survey:

1. "Guiding Principles to be Incorporated into RFP," July 10, 2006, Harper Court Arts Council.
2. "Harper Court Forum: Ideas and Principles," April 25, 2006, HPKCC Community Meeting.
3. PowerPoint presentation of the development of the 53rd and Harper University property, January 9, 2006, University of Chicago and SECC.
4. "A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District, March 2000," Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill.
5. "Design Guidelines for Commercial, Industrial, and Mixed-Use Buildings," City of Chicago.
6. www.vision53.org (polling results of the 53rd Street Vision Workshop, December, 2007).

A mid-point report was presented to the March 10 TIF meeting, with a full report to be provided in the net HPKCC Reporter, online at hydepark.org, and at a future TIF meeting.

Part 2 from the March 2008 Conference Reporter:
Community Learns About, Queries RFP Process for Harper Court

By Gary Ossewaarde

On February 26, th HPKCC Development Committee and the 53rd sTreet TIF Business and Neighborhood Environment Committee (chairs Andre Brumfield and Jane Comiskey) convened a community meeting at the Neighborhood Club to learn about and discuss the anticipated Request for Proposals process for Harper Court. George Rumsey, HPKCC President, moderated. James Wilson, 4th Ward Project Manager in the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, presented. Answering questions with Wilson were Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th); Howard Males, TIF Advisory Council Chair; and Irene Sherr, Community Counsel, counsel to the TIF.

The meeting followed a series of joint planning meetings (outlined in a handout) which also produced a Community Survey on Harper Court Priorities announced at the meeting (on line at www.hydepark.org/survey) and is also part of o larger community input process on 53rd Street and business district visioning and planning process (information available at www.vision53.org and in www.hydepark.org.)

A two-part Request for Proposals (RFP) for Harper Court and the City Parking Lot at 53rd and Lake Park and likely to last up to a year is likely to be inaugurated at the May 12 TIF Advisory Council meeting. Mr. Wilson and Ald. Preckwinkle said it is their intent to make the process as open and transparent as possible, with opportunity for comment as well as for review. But, the noted, there may be documents, especially in proposals, that are proprietary or involve financial and ability-to-produce and complete the project information that the city has to review in private. Wilson noted that RFP review is th most transparent process the city has. This RFP will be tailored to allow the community to help shape the guidelines and requirements given potential developers. Finalists will be required to present their proposals to the community. Many, and occasionally all, proposals have been rejected in RFP processes.

An RFP is a legislative process whereby a qualified development team is chosen through competition. The Department of Planning controls the process, consulting with or through local aldermen. The selection and planned development must be approved by the Community Development Commission and City Council.

Because of the size an complexity of this project, potential developers wil be gauged and winnowed in two stages. Part of the complexity, Wilson said, is due to the mixed-use nature, this community's sense of identity, historical character, and standards, and some due to goals, especially to enhance the pedestrian character and friendliness of the area, melding with transportation and access, and the combining of public and private land. The first stage, request for qualifications, will mainly judge proof of financial ability and experience to conduct and complete this project. The second stage is also aimed at what fits best for this development and community.

The development framework for RFPs

Community Q an A

Where are the initial points for public input? Ideas for criteria should go to the TIF or Alderman Preckwinkle's office now. The Survey data will also be submitted. As the RFP is prepared, the department will come to the TIF with proposed criteria. Wilson would check with city legal as to whether and how much of the RFP document could be available for view and comment before being issued. The alderman agreed there will be a 30 day comment period as with the Harper Theater. a generic or sample RFP will be provided and posted on line.

Criteria suggested included Minority and Women participation, an affordable housing component, and accessibility, all assured as mandatory components.

How will zoning changes be addressed? Criteria such as height and coverage will be specified, likely using existing limits. RFP does not morph a project to suit a proposal outside the criteria.

How will the private property part be incorporated into the RFP and controlled by its criteria? The legal department is working on this; a memorandum of agreement will be needed. Review at the various stages will have to be done jointly by the owners.

How strict will the guidelines on materials, architecture and of the quality standards be? Very. Much of this is specified in state law.

Are responses likely? Yes, several developers have already met with the city.

When will responses be made available? When there are finalists and only such material as the finalist will make available in a presentation. Audience members insisted that as much as possible to guide preference be made available, including ahead, online.

Who would control the current public and private property once selection is made and a sale concluded? The chosen developer would control all the property, privately.

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At the July 14 TIF meeting

At the July 14 TIF meeting, TIF Plg. and Dev. Chair Chuck Thurow expanded upon and pushed his committee's strengthening revisions (after a May meeting) to the draft guidelines for Harper Court Area RFQ/RFP. There was general approval from the audience. Tim Brangle of Chicago Consultants Studio echoed these high standards and Hyde Park-consistent principles-- as did also presentation from the UC Student Committee on Retail. Timetable indicated below continues on track.

From the July 14 TIF meeting

July 14 2008 TIF meeting saw much-
1. Roll out of Village Center proposal to enthusiasm(see Antheus page-open Committee to review August 18);
2. Reports on Harper Court Area updates:

At the July 14 TIF meeting, TIF Plg. and Dev. Chair Chuck Thurow expanded upon and pushed his committee's strengthening revisions (after a May meeting) to the draft guidelines for Harper Court Area RFQ/RFP. There was general approval from the audience. Tim Brangle of Chicago Consultants Studio echoed these high standards and Hyde Park-consistent principles-- as did also presentation from the UC Student Committee on Retail. Timetable indicated below continues on track.
3. Reports on other developments/upgrades (Giordano's to keep historic facade on Blackstone s. of 53rd while remodeling and going up a floor-looked attractive; new cafe planned for old HP Produce)
No report on 53rd Theater/Herald (Susan Campbell of UC had a death in the family)
4. UC Student Retail Committee reported on needs and structural, other barriers to drawing students to business districts, esp. 53rd.

Publications point to likely retail development, possibly a national anchor in Hyde Park.

Real estate publications, study have recently (mid 2008) spotlighted HP retail development prospects, including for a national anchor. Does this point to a possible "other road" the University may be pursuing along side the public process? Neighborhood's diversity cited as a key asset and its dollar leakage as inviting development. (See Antheus page article on Village Center for discussion of another key element--enough space to draw in a set of different retail venues.)

Herald, July 16, 2008

Two recently published reports suggest Hyde Park is poised to experience a spate of retail development and consider the conditions the neighborhood requires to fuel that possibility. Pointing to the University of Chicago's recent real estate acquisitions along 53rd Street, the Illinois Real Estate Journal suggests that one key component to a resurgence of the retail strip--a national retail anchor--is much more likely to emerge.

Meanwhile, an unrelated study by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development reveals that the neighborhood's diversity is an important element for drawing businesses here.

The Illinois Real Estate Journal quotes Barry Schain, principal of Next Realty, as seeing a large anchor tenant in the neighborhood "within reach" given the university's ownership of the Harper Theater and Herald Building on the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue and its recent purchases of Harper Court on the nearby parcel between 52nd and 53rd streets on Harper Avenue.

The article also points to significant "leakage," meaning residents shopping outside of the neighborhood, as a sure sign of potential new retail development. The article identified $37.32 million in home improvement leakage, and $17.13 and $.16 million in apparel and grocery leakage, respectfully.

The Chaddick Institute study, after describing diversity as "an important business development tool," identified Hyde Park as the third most diverse neighborhood in Chicago and the most diverse in terms of diversity of income.

While exploring the possibilities for Hyde Park's retail future, the Illinois Real Estate Journal cautioned those looking to the possible 2016 Olympic bid as a retail draw. "What people should be considering is, is this the potential home for the Barack Obama Presidential Library in four years? " David Baum, principal of Baum Realty Group LLC, told the journal. "Real estate is something that has to be used 365 days a year - you don't sign a 20-year leases [for the period when the Olympics will be in town]."

Until recently, Baum was the developer for the university's property on the northwest corner of 53rd Street. Baum told the journal that their unsuccessful efforts to land the kind of tenants the university is after reflect shaky retail economy. "It's certainly indicative of the market on some level," Baum said. "There are a lot of people not ready to pull the trigger. We're getting deals done, but [tenants] are more guarded right now."

Baum also said the university had contracted with him to have a certain percentage of the tenants sighed within a time frame and opted out when that goal was not met.

....all eyes appear to be on the neighborhood, ready for signs of a retail resurgence.

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The context is now much wider. Since the workshop the University bought Harper Court and will lead the process with Chicago Consultants Studio and indicated it is considering a wider footprint incl. via purchases adjacent to Harper Court and elsewhere along 53rd, is considering an institutional presence via student housing and back-office, and that the Harper Theater project is stalled.

University of Chicago buys Harper Court; jointly announced at May 12 TIF meeting that the two-part request for qualifications/request for proposals will go forward. Farmer's Market continues this year.
To University statements. See details from the May 12 TIF meeting.

Meanwhile, Harper Court Arts Council has announced board expansion and bylaws reform, and Director Leslie Morgan has left.

One month comment period for Guidelines for Harper Court-city lot went online May 12-June 30 at http://www.vision53.org/12.html. Receiver was ccs@ccstudioinc.org. TIF Planning and Development subcommittee meet to take and review comments May 27, resulting in a proposed, stronger revision by the Chairman that may surface at the July 14 TIF meeting.

HPKCC Development Committee met June 18 and subsequently drafted a letter of serious concern that the process may be derailed with UC purchase of HC and firing of its Theater/Herald developer. Letter is here and in its own page. See report of the June 18 meeting.

Next steps: UC, city, consultants get appraisal for city lot part, prepare RFQ/RFP in accord with previous input such as 53 Vision, Survey, more and comments on Guidelines (post June 12) for issuance in late fall (after Nov. 15 vision workshop III). After receipt and narrowing of proposals, the leaders will present and selection made in spring 2009.

It came as quite a surprise to many at the May 12, 2008 TIF meeting that the University had closed with Harper Court Arts Council for $6.5 million (city appraised value), perhaps more than a month before. The University and city department of planning and development were now working with Chicago Consultants Studio, Inc. to get the necessary appraisals, create an inter party agreement, and start the process of preparing RFQ/RFP text. They said because the clock starts ticking on land values, it was necessary to complete public review and comments on general guidelines for what should be the RFP quickly, between May 12 and June 12. The presentation summarized below and online was given, with means to make comments. In looking at them, some felt privately that the objectives were (necessarily?) general and even buzz-word--(in fact they were largely from the Harper Theater RFP and The SOM 2000 Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District), but most thought that what is there is good--some saying after that they would have to be carefully parsed.

A couple of items were thought not included despite frequent mention at public meetings and in the Survey, namely keeping a part of the original mission re: incubating start-up small businesses and artisans, need for a community center, including intervening and opportunity parcels, as well as concern over tightness of parts of the timetable and that decisions will be set before the November 15 block-building exercise. It also looks as if the full emphasis is on upscale retail while the housing component is to be for diverse income levels.

It was noted by one that it is unclear that HCAC has a right to to hold or sell the public-purpose shopping center est. c. 1965 to further an original purpose, to shelter artisans and incubate small businesses and the arts. (The University was mentioned in the charter as a possible successor to the Foundation; on the other hand it had members on the Arts Council Board and is a different kind of nonprofit. The University said it would its new position to facilitate new spaces for current tenants.)

Noted after or since the meeting: Some are uncomfortable with the models for redevelopment held up for redevelopment of Harper Court and 53rd Street: Delmar at Washington University in St. Louis, redevelopment at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lake Street at the Oak Park/River Forest Illinois transit interchange (some saying the redevelopment to the east of the latter is more in line and scale.)


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Herald coverage, May 14, 2008 By Sam Cholke

The University of Chicago announced Monday it has acquired the Harper Court for $6.5 million, close to two years after the university made its first attempt to purchase the 53rd Street shopping center. "The deal is done," said Bob Rosenberg, a spokesman for the university. Rosenberg said he did not know how long the purchase had been in the works but it had begun over a month ago.

The purchase was announced Monday night at the 53rd state Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District advisory council meeting. James Wilson from the Chicago Planning and Development Department said the parcel would include the adjoining parking lot, but the coupling of the tow lots was not yet finalized and the city was awaiting an appraisal of the parking lot parcel.

The University has no plans for the shopping center in the immediate future beyond preparing for the city-mandated development process, Rosenberg said. The university has had individual discussions with current business owners at Harper Court and plan to extend what are for most month-to-month leases through 2008, he said.

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4gh) characterized the sale as a "positive development." she said she had been in dialogue with the university for some time concerning their intention to purchase Harper Court. "The Arts council, made up of our friends and neighbors, was having difficulty figuring out what to do with the property," Preckwinkle said. The previous owner of Harper Court, the Harper Court Arts Council, had delayed the sale of the property after the Illinois Attorney General's office became inclined to look into the legality of the transfer of the 40-year-old shopping center from the Harper Court Foundation to the arts Council in December 2005. The Attorney General's office has said it will not pursue criminal charges in the transfer, but has suggested organizational changes. Most recently, lawyer Jorge Sanchez expressed concern that the 501(c)3 nonprofit Harper Court Foundation did not follow accepted practices for dissolving its board when it transferred ownership of the property to the arts Council, a board helmed by many of the same board members as the Harper Court Foundation.

The alderman said after the meeting that she thought more people would be upset by the surprise transfer. I'm still letting it sink in, said George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC).

The university has contracted with the Chicago Consultants Studio to develop the request for qualifications and requests for proposals (RFP) from developers with the city's Planning and Development Department. The university worked with the downtown firm on the RFP for Harper Theatre, at the corner of Harper Avenue and 53rd Street.

Tim Brangle with Chicago Consultants Studio presented initial guidelines compiled from the Dec. 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop, the HP-K CC survey and other sources at the TIF meeting. Brangle said expectations for the development included retail space in mixed-use buildings and a height limit comparable to the Hyde Park Bank across 53rd Street. The initial briefing used to guide drafting the RFP is available on the Website hydeparkchicago.org and will be made available on vision 53.org in coming days. The public comment period on the document will be from May 12 to June 12. Chuck Thurow will be collecting comments at the f5:30 p.m. May 27 meeting of the 53rd Street Planning and Development committee at the Hyde Park Art Center. Comments can also be e-mailed to ccs@ccstudioinc.com.

Susan Campbell, vice president of community affair at the university, said they hope to issue the request for qualifications in the fall. Campbell assured attendees at the TIF meeting that public comment periods would come at every turn in the in the development process.

Rosenberg said it as "not entirely clear" what the university's expectations would be on a return for their $6.5 million investment. The university's priority is to facilitate a vibrant and livable environment for its students, faculty and neighbors, he said. "Ideally, this project can create something that is reflective of the distinctive nature of Hyde Park and something that represents the best of Chicago's mid-South Side," university President Robert Zimmer said in a prepared statement.

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Distributed at the May 12 TIF meeting re Harper Court:

Full Summary Report of the Harper Court Priorities Survey 2008 (includes all comments submitted)
Neighborhood and Business Environment Committee of the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council and The Planning, Zoning, and Development Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.
To Alderman Preckwinkle, the TIF Chair Howard Males and to the Department of Planning and Development/Chicago Consultants Studio teams. And online and printable at http://www.hydepark.org/survey.

Summary Report and overview (6 pages) Online in pdf and printable at http://www.hydepark.org/survey.

Follow-up to December 53rd Street Vision Workshop Irene Sherr of Community Counsel. Below and in http://www.hydepark.org/survey. Note that these essentially correspond to list of key conclusions from the December 8 Vision Workshop voting prepared by Irene Sherr of Community Counsel.

[Guidelines for Harper Court Area RFQ/RFP] Heart of Hyde Park. TIF Advisory Council. Harper Court Area Redevelopment Briefing, City of Chicago-University of Chicago. Prepared by the Chicago Consultants Studio, Inc. May 12, 2008. Summarized below; online in pdf at http://www.vision53.org/12.html.

 

Follow-up to December 53rd Street Vision Workshop: numbers = top ten vote-getters in the Harper Court Priorities Survey. Can be viewed and printed from http://www.hydepark.org/survey.

Busy and active, with lots of shopping, dining, entertainment choices

1. Well-lit night-time ambiance

2. Restaurants

Attractive and inviting

4. Welcoming landscaping

5. Destination, appeal to diversity

Green

10. Environmentally friendly

Convenient and easy to get around

3. Stronger pedestrian character

9. Day and night access

Community input

6. Public presentations by developers

7. Community review and feedback

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The full document of which the text is below is in http://www.vision53.org/12html and text only also is in a separate page.

Text of the Guidelines to be commented on by June 12 2008

Original by Chicago Consultants Studio, Inc.

Heart of Hyde Park
TIF Advisory Council

Harper Court Area Redevelopment Briefing

City of Chicago - University of Chicago May 12, 2008

I. Overview
  • Development includes the Harper Court Properties and City Parking Lot
  • Collaboration between th e City, Alderman Preckwinkle and the University of Chicago for broader development opportunity
  • Process is a public RFQ/RFP
  • Focus is to create a neighborhood town center
  • Community input into the RFQ/RFP process

II. Project Orientation

  • Neighborhood Context -Central location serving the neighborhood, the University and the mid-south side communities [conceptual map]
  • Recent Initiatives -Positive development environment for investment [map showing location of redevelopments, maps and pictures of the TIF District. Ongoing Hyde Park TIF District Appreciation. Improvements to 53rd street Streetscape & Cleanslate Program, Park 52 Restaurant, Checkerboard Lounge. Hyde Park Produce, Treasure Island Opening. 53rd Street Workshops]
  • Development Parcels - Assemblage of prime contiguous sites [aerial, the parcels on a structures-outline map, photos]

III. Project Framework

  • Development Objectives
    • Create a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood core to serve the neighborhood, University and city-wide visitors
    • Improve the image and identity of 53rd Street/Harper area as an attractive commercial district
    • Leverage the historic character of the neighborhood
    • Attract a high quality mix of commercial uses, local and national, while offering relocation strategies for existing tenants
    • Increase residential offerings in the neighborhood with a mix of product type an for a range of incomes
    • Feature high quality urban design and architecture commensurate with Hyde Park
    • Establish an accessible, pedestrian-friendly environment through quality landscape, open space and design
    • Provide convenient parking to serve the 53rd Street area
  • Urban Design Components - Elements of a Neighborhood Center, Re-establish a "Heart of Hyde Park"
    • Create a Gateway to 53rd Street District
    • Enhance "Town Center" Space
    • Reinforce 53rd Street as Main Street
    • Reopen/Reconnect Harper Avenue
  • Program Criteria - Unique mix of tenants and residents
    • Retail and Entertainment. A creative mix of retail and entertainment tenants to achieve an active, dynamic urban neighborhood center with increased nighttime activity and destination appeal
    • Residential. Apartment and condominium product, including a 20% affordable housing component, to increase the vitality and vibrancy of the area
    • Other Commercial and Specialty Uses. Potential for quality office space to serve the area or a neighborhood/boutique hotel
    • Open Space and High Quality Urban Design. An important urban amenity and "address" for retailers, residents and visitors with potential for cultural and civic uses/programming
    • Access and Circulation. Convenient circulation to and through the area with proximate parking to promote retail activity
    • Development Range. Overall density range of 2.5 - 3.5 FAR with building heights commensurate with adjacent buildings and context (max Hyde Park Bank Building)
  • Community Input
    • Initial Input contributing to this RFP:
      - 53rd Street workshops where over 325 people from Hyde Park and the Mid-South Side attended (December 8, 2007 & May 3, 2008)
      - Harper Court Survey
      - Comments include:
      -----universal desire for a greater variety of retail options
      -----emphasis on 53rd Street a a primary shopping street with more entertainment, cultural and nighttlife options
      -----encourage mixed-use development with retail on the ground floor and residential of office above
      -----promote and maintain a visually clean and attractive environment
      -----structures should reflect the architectural character of Hyde Park
    • Opportunities for Continued Community Input
      - Presentations/input at TIF Advisory meetings
      - Comments from posting of RFP Draft Parameters and guidelines on SECC website
      - Ongoing updates throughout various stages of the RFP process including community presentations Spring 2009
  • Precedents -Examples of quality and character [Delmar Loop, St. Louis; University City, Philadelphia' Oak Park/River Forest

  • The Process and Milestones
    • Open, public process
    • RFQ followed by RFP
    • High quality developers
    • Full development proposals
    • Community review process
    • Predevelopment process
    • Anticipated timetable
    • DPD Presentation of RFQ/RFP Process and Milestone February 26 2008
    • Public presentation of " Objectives & Parameters @ TIF Advisory Meeting May 12 2008
    • 30-day Public Review and Comment Period [closing] June 12, 2008
    • RFQ/RFP Issuance Fall 2008
    • Proposals Due Early Winter 2009
    • Community Presentations and Developer Selection Spring 2009


Please visit the SECC website where a copy of this presentation will be posted for the 30-day Public Review Period. www.hydeparkchicago.org. [http://www.vision53.org]

Forward your comments and input to: ccs@ccstudioinc.com.

     

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Note: In response to a query about scale and height RFP specifications, Tim Brangle of Chicago Consultants Studio writes:

With regards to density and heights, the RFP will stipulate that proposals respond to and be in concert with the context, which suggests that the various "sides" of the site will generally be varied in response to adjacent context. Additionally, further designations such as the 53rd street
"pedestrian street" will help establish controls for the size and scale
along this corridor.

The RFP will also require compliance with the City standards with respect to
LEED and green requirements.

Revised Guideline proposed by TIF Planning and Development Chair Chuck Thurow pursuant to May 27 open meeting of c35 people. See it separate (with the original draft).
View all comments submitted: http://www.vision53.org/index.html.

From the tone of Thurow's email and email by TIF Chair Howard Males, it seems likely that ( short of other ideas from the city or UC) this will be submitted with recommendation to be the final Guideline at the July 14 TIF meeting. GO

Here are my conclusions and recommendations from our May 27th meeting:

TIF Advisory Council
Planning and Development Subcommittee

May 27, 2008 at the Hyde Park Art Center

Approximately thirty-five people attended the meeting to discuss the outline of the RFQ and RFP for the Harper Court Area Redevelopment. The TIF Advisory Council was represented by Chuck Thurow , chair of the committee, and Toni McAllister. The meeting concentrated on the Development Objectives and the Program Criteria within presentation “Harper Court Area Redevelopment Briefing.” Everyone understood why this document was very general, but there was general consensus that it lack any distinct feel or challenge to the developers that would encourage them to be imaginative and be responsive to the specific neighborhood rather than giving generic responses.

The following suggestions are an attempt to embody our discussion in the criteria. In addition, I have added some commentary to explain the changes.

Development Criteria

· Create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood core that would be recognized as a model of diversity and inclusion as it served the neighborhood, University and city-wide visitors.

There was considerable discussion of wanting to keep Hyde Park ’s unique history of being multi-racial and an economically-mixed neighborhood. This change also reflects the interest in proactively encouraging the developers to do their best and most innovative with key social issues.

· Improve the image and identity of 53rd Street /Harper area as an active, attractive, and street-oriented commercial district.

This change came from interest in having the development oriented to the street and to avoid the style of development, such as Water Tower Place , that is focused on an internal mall concept.

· Attract a high quality mix of commercial uses, local and national, that reflected the tastes, incomes, and needs of not only immediate neighbors but surrounding communities, while assuring effective relocation strategies for existing tenants and opening possibilities for new, locally-generated businesses.

This change directly relates to the first item above: the businesses selection should encourage a diverse clientele to use the development so that it was providing goods of interest to a broad income mix. There was strong appreciation for some of the current businesses in Harper Court so we wanted to strengthen the relocation statement. Also there was interest in the idea of opening up some possibilities for residents who want to become entrepreneurs.

· Feature high quality urban design and architecture that not only is respectful of the architectural context, but also continues Hyde Park ’s traditions of uniqueness and innovation.

Much to the surprise of the Chair, the desire for uniqueness did not come from him but from members of the group and was supported generally by group. The commentaries were mainly on how many developer will find a successful design for Naples , FL and then just reuse it everywhere he or she does a development. The desire is to encourage them to think about Hyde Park ’s architecture heritage and be challenged to live up to it.

· Establish an accessible, pedestrian-friendly environment that, in particular, can be a model of effective handicap accessibility through quality streetscape, open space and design.

Here again the idea is to go beyond simply the expected or the required and ask the developer to really think about handicapped accessibility and use innovations that might become tomorrow’s standards.

· Provide adequate parking to serve the development and the 53rd Street area and work with local and city officials to strengthen the transportation options especially from the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Chair was startled to find himself the only voice for less parking. He was vastly overruled by the rest of the group. However, there was agreement that the public transportation options should be highlighted and be a consideration of how public transportation links to surrounding neighborhoods could enhance the development as a destination for a larger south side.

Program Criteria

Most of the commentary above relates to the recommended changes in the development criteria above.

· Retail and Entertainment

A creative mix of retail and entertainment tenants to achieve an active, diverse, dynamic urban neighborhood with increased daytime and nighttime activity and a destination appeal that builds and complements that strong cultural destinations already present in the neighborhood.

Besides the diversity and inclusion discussed earlier, a very good point was made that there are high destinations, such as the Museum of Science and Industry, the Robie House, and the Hyde Park Art Center , and the development should try to capture people who are already aware of the area. The Chair has to admit that he added the Hyde. It was not one of the examples given by the group.

· Residential

Apartment and condominium product, including a 20% affordable housing component, to increase the vitality and vibrancy of the area. If possible, that range should expand on the typical income levels considered affordable and nontraditional housing types such as work/live.

Most of the discussion emphasized income distribution and housing, but there was also mention of the original intent of Harper Court to replace the artist housing that was lost by urban renewal. The idea of work/live or artist space came from that latter notion.

· Open Space and High Quality Urban Design

An important urban amenity and “address” for retailers, residents and visitors because of the distinctiveness, quality, and innovation of its design and materials with areas specifically design for cultural and civic uses/programming as well as maintain activated building facades to the streets avoiding the parking pedestal facing the street that is so common in many similar buildings.

The group wanted to strengthen the wording of this program criteria so that it is known that the community wants spaces appropriate for chess and other types of communal gathering. Also there was concern that some developer might think the Borders building with its cheap materials was “high quality design.”

· Access and Circulation

Convenient circulation to and through the area with proximate parking to promote retail activity, adequate service access to assure open streets, and a minimum number of curb cuts to enhance pedestrian movement.

These additions are probably self-explanatory.

· Development Range

Overall density range of 2.5-3.5 FAR with building heights appropriate to the context of east Hyde Park.

There seemed to be general agreement at the meeting that this was an appropriate site for high-rise development similar to the buildings east of the tracks; although there was also concern that wind generation and the canyon effect be avoided. The height of the bank should not be a limiting factor.

Chuck Thurow
Executive Director
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell
Chicago, IL 60615
phone: 773/324-5520 x. 1001
fax: 773/324-6641
e-mail: cthurow@hydeparkart.org

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TIF Plg. and Dev. Committee (chair Chuck Thurow) met May 27 2008 and beefed up the May 12 guidelines

See the results immediately above. (This writer predicts that likely to be controversial - from opposite sides - will be the very last item). Below are reports on the meeting. First by Gary Ossewaarde, then from the Herald.

Report on May 27 Harper Court Area RFP Guidelines
consideration by the TIF Planning-Development Subcommittee

Report by Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Vice President and Development Committee Chair

The main object of this report is to relate those proposals for changes and additions that had general consensus, partial consensus, or were raised) to inform the HPKCC Board of Directors in preparing its comments on the Guidelines, and the community. (Not raised: green/LEEDS.) Special attention is suggested to the recommendations at the end of Objectives and of Criteria.

The meeting was convened by Chuck Thurow, chairman, at 6:45 at the Hyde Park Art Center. 30 or more attended, including a good cross section of persons and organizations who have been engaged in Harper Court and 53rd Street development issues. Distributed: copies of Heart of Hyde Park TIF Advisory Council Harper Court Area Redevelopment Briefing-City of Chicago – University of Chicago (draft Guidelines) by Chicago Consultant Studios, also distributed at the May 12 TIF meeting.

Purpose was to review the draft guidelines sections 1) Objectives and 2) Program Criteria as part of a process involving lots of public input. Mr. Thurow said that both the meeting recommendations and all the suggestions would be submitted to Chicago Consultant Studios for use in preparing a revised Guideline, possibly to be ready for the July 14 TIF meeting. Participants (members) were encouraged to submit their comments to ccs@ccstudioinc.com before June 12.

A member read an email she received expressing fear that purchase of Harper Court by the University of Chicago makes the RFP process a charade.

Thurow said his information and experience is that the city will control and conduct the process and decisions. This is a single development for the city lot and Harper Court. The request for qualifications will be put out widely; the request for proposal will by invite, and three to five selected finalists will be invited to present publicly with Q and A. Public input will be serious at each step. The city’s interest in setting forth an RFP is to get the best developers to come forward. Therefore, Thurow suggested, specificity, such as ranking of preferred types of businesses or other uses as well as detailed conditions should be avoided in this document but should be refined (including at the November 15 block exercise) and told to the presenting finalists (asked by George Rumsey to be separate from the TIF meeting). He also reported that the University bought Harper Court to resell to a joint developer and would not itself develop or manage the site. He reviewed the goals of the TIF that development is intended to support: Canter School addition, parking solutions, improvements.
Comments on the Objectives section:

Unlike the residential objective, that for retail does not call for diverse retail appealing to a variety of tastes of customers of all income levels.

Proposed provision for current tenants offers only relocation strategies and not right of first refusal.

Space is not mentioned for start up or other services and businesses, including arts and artisan. The original purpose is omitted and so erased—recommended to add a historic purpose bullet.

Provide clearer, more specific guidance than “High quality design, architecture.” No consensus/wording.

The accessible and pedestrian friendly and parking objectives seemed weak, unimaginative, undefined, or leaving out important related objectives or populations.

Recommended changes to the Development Objectives:

(Recommended wording here and in Criteria Recommendations are those of the author.)
Bullet 4, commercial uses. Re-write to include concepts, for example: “Attract a high quality mix of commercial uses, local and national, providing a variety of retail options for a variety of consumer tastes and income levels. Offer existing tenants relocation opportunities and right of refusal and provide strategies/affordable space for start ups and other desirable services and businesses, including arts and artisan which will increase the vibrancy and appeal of the development and shopping district.”

Bullet 6, accessible… Re-write to include concepts, for example: “Establish a model accessible, pedestrian-friendly and handicapped-friendly environment that includes quality streetscape, a variety of open spaces.

Bullet 7, parking. Recommended rewording such as: “Provide adequate parking solutions to serve the 53rd Street area as part of a strategy of creative solutions to development and to 53rd Street access and transportation that includes taking advantage of proximity to good transportation options.”

Add a Bullet 8 referencing the historic public purpose of Harper Court.
Comments on Program Criteria:

Why reference the height of the bank? Could not higher structures be wanted, for example on Lake Park—but not right on 53rd where it could create a canyon effect. Desired specified was a variety of structure types and sizes. Also, creative solutions to infrastructure challenges like BP site (no consensus).

Going beyond a minimum affordability for residential; indicate that provision is expected for all incomes including Section 8 and that voluntarily poor such as an artist colony would not fulfill the affordable requirement. No consensus on a wording change.

State a preference for full life and safety provisions (sprinkle ring). Not state here but in RFP?

Parking—the whole TIF council needs to have/initiate a conversation on what parking, and how much of it , it wants this development for the TIF purpose. The guideline should call attention to not preclude other development and or parking at sites nearby such as south of Hyde Park Bank.

State that “open space” is to include both and greenery community gathering space such as for markets, concerts, and for relaxation such as chess.”

Specify creative solutions for service vehicles, suggesting use of Lake Park the historic auto corridor.
Recommended modifications to Program Criteria:

• Retail and Entertainment. Insert “more” before “tenants.” Add: with walkable public spaces.
• Residential. “Include components of senior and handicapped accessibility.”
• Open Space…Quality Design: include “unique and distinctive.” Open space is to include greenery, spaces for public gatherings and activities, and for spontaneous activities like chess.
• Re-title “Access, Circulation and Pedestrian Character.” Parking – change to “creative solutions to access including increased parking (friendly and hidden); include synergies with transportation, traffic flow, and pedestrian movement. Minimize curb cuts; separate service vehicles.”
• Range. Maybe delete ref. to bank height? Add: “taking into account the surrounding neighborhood, with a variety of structure types and sizes.”

Adjourned about 8:15 pm. Those signed in will receive a report from the chairman.

Respectfully submitted, Gary Ossewaarde

 

Report from the Herald June 4, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Parking, affordable housing and even a place to play chess came up during a wide-ranging discussion las Tuesday evening about what prospective developers should consider in their plan for the Harper Court shopping center. Roughly 30 Hyde Park residents packed a conference room at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. to share their views as part of a public comment period on developer guidelines for the project.

"This is the beginning of a very lengthy public process," said Chuck Thurow, who led the meeting of the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council's Planning and Development committee. The council advises the alderman and conducts community workshops about development along 53rd Street. ....

The RFQ and th RFP for Harper Court will be issued in the fall. In the meantime, the public is allowed to weigh in on what these documents should include, in a public comment period that says June 12. Tuesday's meeting was a forum for those comments. In addition, comments can be made online [ccs@ccstudioinc.com]. ...

Right off the bat, Judy Roothaan, co-president of the Hyde Park's Older Women's League, read a message from one of her members suggesting that university-sponsored forum on Harper Court were meant to appease the community while forging ahead regardless of its input.

Thurow, who took notes throughout the meeting, pledged the public's comments would be seriously considered and possibly added to a revised draft of the RFQ and RFP. And he chimed in with a criticism of his own: "I don't know why the Hyde Park Bank sets the height limit" for Harper Court's future buildings, he said.

Parking, too, could be "creative," he suggested. He was generally in favor of scaling back parking, given the nexus of mass transit stops nearby. Others, including George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, argued that creating adequate parking should be a major priority. It's the best way to draw shoppers from outside the neighborhood, added Hyde Park resident Cal Audrain.

While several people said flexibility was important at this stage in order to lure developers savvy to the market, others wished for more stringent guidelines that would ensure a certain mix of affordable housing and businesses. In particular, some thought the document's call for "high-quality urban design," was too vague. I don't want two blocks of buildings that look like Borders," said Pat Wilcoxen,... I want some diversity and uniqueness."

"I think you guys came up with a lot of interesting suggestions," Thurow said, as the meeting came to a close.

A revised version of t he RFQ and RFP, including comments submitted by the June 12 deadline, may possibly be ready by the June 14 TIF council meeting, he said.

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HPKCC submitted comments on the original draft Guidelines for Harper Ct. Area RFP late May 2008

View in their own page.

George W. Rumsey
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
1525 East 53rd Street, Suite 907
Chicago, IL 60615
Tel (773) 955-4455
http://www.hydepark.org
-------------------------------------------------------------


Chicago Consultants Studio
19 S. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60603

Dear Chicago Consultants Studio:

In June, 2006, the Board of Directors of HPKCC voted to endorse the following six objectives for redevelopment of Harper Court and the adjoining parking lot:

(1) The original mission of Harper Court is still needed today and should be retained.
There are many innovative ways the original mission can be carried forward, assisting local artisans and start-up businesses without hindering a new burst of retail development. How will the Harper Court Arts Council and the University of Chicago be a part of this process?

(2) The current tenants should be “helped” to stay in business during any construction period.
There is a very devoted following for many of the businesses and restaurants currently operating in Harper Court. Any development proposal should include rapid and immediate assistance to these businesses in finding alternative locations within the neighborhood.

(3) Any development must be appropriate for Hyde Park, and should preferably be appealing to a broad spectrum of the neighborhood, a plus would be a "gateway effect" for 53rd Street.

The “historic” nature and “pedestrian” character of 53rd Street should be preserved and enhanced. New development should also seek to become a “destination” for the mid-Southside, appealing to a diverse mix of customers. The recent survey of Harper Court emphasized these concerns, including accessibility (for handicapped and seniors) and diversity.

(4) Any new development should be kept at a height consistent with 53rd Street, generally no higher than 4 stories.
Although taller buildings will probably need to be included in any development mix, the placement of such buildings should not conflict with existing lower buildings in the area, nor create a canyon effect on 53rd Street itself. Height along Lake Park (a transportation corridor) is preferable to height along 53rd.

(5) More adequate parking must be provided.
Convenient parking is not enough. Off-street parking must be of a scale to meet the needs of a successful retail area, and thought should be given to creative parking fees and/or time limits to entice customers to visit and shop. Residential parking must also meet the need.

(6) Public space (such as for chess benches and the summer farmer’s market) is required.
A community or civic area should be provided, where the neighborhood can come together. Such open space should be active, well-lit at night, safe, and easily accessible to all. Welcoming landscaping throughout should be mandatory.

For this project to succeed, it needs to create activity and nightlife along 53rd Street, appeal to students as well as to the broader Southside, be universally accessible, and be built with “architectural design appropriate to the context.”

The University of Chicago is to be commended for recognizing most of these points in its Harper Court Area Redevelopment Briefing. It is also important for the University to explain the “community review process.” Such a process must certainly begin with the TIF Advisory Council, but it needs to extend beyond that group to achieve real community engagement.

At the May 12 TIF meeting, the presenting team for the University made a verbal commitment to engage the community with the Corridor Housing Initiative (building blocks) process in the planning of the Harper Court area. The Conference would certainly applaud this as real community input.

Sincerely,


George W. Rumsey
President
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

cc: Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward
Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President for Community Affairs, University of Chicago
Howard Males, Chair, 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council
Chuck Thurow, Planning & Development Chair, 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council
The Editor, Hyde Park Herald

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HPKCC Development Committee June 18 meeting report

Report on the HPKCC Development Committee meeting of June 18, 2008
By Gary Ossewaarde, Chairman

The Committee met June 18 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Bank Bldg. Suite 906, Gary Ossewaarde presiding. Present: Jay Ammerman, George Davis, Mark Granfors, Kate Hawley, Judy Hochberg, Jay Mulberry, Gary Ossewaarde, George Rumsey, Vicki Suchovsky, Pat Wilcoxen, and James Withrow.

Reference documents: May 12 2008 Harper Court Area Presentation, HPKCC 6 point Principles for redevelopment of Harper Court (May 27, 2008), Report of the Chairman of the TIF Planning and Development Committee following meeting of May 27, 2008, and a precise of the state of preservation-concerned properties by Jack Spicer.

First agenda item was to see whether we have additional or clarifying comments on the Harper RFP Guidelines process (via Chicago Consultants Studio). We concluded we will not submit additional.

Second agenda item was to evaluate and consider response to a changed development landscape in Hyde Park. Some altered conditions that concerned members were:
• Perception of diminished opportunity for public input and sound planning, and great uncertainty as to outcome, particularly in University-led development, related to:
o increased commercial dominance of the University of Chicago north of 55rd Street, in particular in the future of 53rd Street and adjacent (combined with a lack of confidence in University commercial management competence),
o changed control and possible outcome in redevelopment of Harper Court resulting from University purchase of the Court,
o perceived changed University view and program for development and for its own expansion throughout the neighborhood, some sites affected being Harper/Herald building and IC Hospital;
• A sense that we are going backwards in the quest for more retail and positive retail options, and that there is incrementally less rather than more— and affordable— retail space for pressured businesses including those in spaces slated for redevelopment, evidenced lately by
o Harper Theater/Herald pull back reinforcing a trend towards brown-paper vacancies and emptying out of tenants or tear-down not timed to actual development,
o lease of the OSCO space to an additional bank.

Suggestions relating to University role and keeping spaces full had a broad consensus:
• Tell the University we do not accept a solution for the Theater/Herald buildings that goes back on the general redevelopment strategy of its community-influenced RFP: at least the facade should not be torn down or the site combined with Harper Court. If redevelopment is deferred, spaces should be fixed for re-lease to businesses under pressure/threatened by redevelopment elsewhere, particularly in Harper Court. In general, don’t empty places until you have a plan.
• 53rd Street and adjacent belongs most to the community, which must decide its future. To the extent UC acts away from its core, it should act responsibly, openly, truthfully. How will your plan work as previous haven’t?
• The University needs to fill its vacant spaces. Retail must be increasing: spaces, including ones vacant or not imminently to be developed, need to be full—with businesses needed by this community, able to draw and survive, not with what looks good on a brochure.
Jack Spicer offered several outcomes that we should insist upon from and in redevelopment in Hyde Park. He suggested we pick a limited number, then stick to them as a suite that we propose the community stand up for. (He and several others felt that the time for conversation and adjustment with the University is over and the University is not now in a mode to listen.)

One outcome, proposing for height and density a sliding distance scale, not just that it be “context-based,” was thought by many to need careful thought or should be applied ad-hoc in response to specific proposals. Another, “preservation,” some thought better enveloped in a broader statement like “diversity and mix of structures scaled to Hyde Park needs.”

Those widely thought to reflect community principles and consensus, and for which we could insist Hyde Park development provide a model of excellence and creativity were:
• Affordability—to be applied also to businesses and to generalize the Harper Court “original mission” concerns,
• Accessibility—to and in, via all modes and also for the disabled (suggested was asking for a handicapped street parking space on each block and for enforcement of laws).
• Public open space—not only quality space for public gathering, markets, chess etc. but that such spaces—and developments overall be open to the public—no walling off of high school students, for example.

Conclusion and assignments:

Consensus was to speak immediately to the University and space-use concern, particularly no empty storefronts—plan first, and that businesses need help. (Gary will prepare a draft to be shared as decision is made whom to send to, and whether to raise the matter at the July 14 TIF meeting—suggestions encouraged.)

We will explore laying down a set of what we expect in development and the extent to which/how this should be set forth before there are “plans” to react to.
Persons with expertise in one of these “outcomes”— the latter set of bullets or any other principles brought up or not— were encouraged to send to Gary at hpkcc@aol.com a paragraph or two defining them or stating what expectations they involve. Others are also encouraged to comment.

The meeting was adjourned about 7:45 pm. Next meeting will be convened as appropriate.


subsequent HPKCC Letter to President Zimmer and Alderman Preckwinkle, June 30, 2008

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle
4659 South Cottage Grove, Ste 203
Chicago, IL 60653

President Robert J. Zimmer
5801 South University
Chicago, IL 60637

Dear Alderman Preckwinkle and President Zimmer:

In recent years, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its community-based Development Committee have been actively involved discovering and representing community interests in development proposals concerning the Harper Theater and Herald buildings, Harper Court Area, and 53rd Street in general.

Our purpose has been to encourage transparency and accountability in discussions and negotiations impacting these areas of development focus. The Conference had been encouraged and supportive of recent positive accomplishments including (1) the model RFP process for the Theater buildings; (2) the series of community meetings and forums related to disclosing the nature and ramifications of negotiations to sell and redevelop Harper Court and subsequently create a model community-input RFP process for Harper Court Area, and (3) the 53rd Street Visioning Process and community surveys related to the future of 53rd Street.

However, the recent announcements that the University has now agreed to purchase Harper Court and simultaneously that it has terminated the developer for the Harper Theater and Herald buildings have raised concerns that all of these community activities may have been for naught.

The Conference and the Development Committee are concerned that these matters may be decided through separate, undisclosed planning and negotiation while the public continues to believe their interests are being ascertained and addressed in widely supported public processes. The Conference, and the community that it represents, hopes these concerns are unfounded and feel we are obligated to bring these concerns to the University’s and the Alderman’s attention.

We do strongly support speedy development and good planning based on the conclusions reached to date from the meetings, surveys, and studies: People want an increase in retail and an increase in choices that will serve real needs of a very diverse market, revive the life and gateway character of the business district, and are likely to stay. We believe that if what is brought in serves the broadest interests and reflects the character and needs of both neighborhood and University, success for everyone will be assured.
Yet, we are concerned that progress is being set back and a negative image created by owners or developers emptying buildings and creating “brown-papered” vacancies or clearing land long before planning is carried out and work can begin. A very visible example is the 53rd Harper property whose imminent development is now further delayed. The vacancies increase the uncertainty of businesses—some very valuable to the neighborhood, including businesses in Harper Court, at a time when the University has significantly increased its commercial presence on 53rd and high rents remain an obstacle to business location and retention.

We suggest new thinking on how to create more permanent and temporary options for such businesses including in buildings that do become vacant or that are underutilized. We suggest not tearing down first and developing later, which carries no guarantee of faster development and precludes adaptive reuse of buildings that may be assets and serve the character of the district.

Now that the University has an increased presence north of 55th Street and redevelopment is within reach, we ask that all recommit to doing our best to honor community process and act communicatively, truthfully and collegially.

We believe the University, the city and the community share goals and hopes for commercial development and can work to make this great community and center of learning—and applied learning—a shining model.

Sincerely,

Gary M. Ossewaarde
Development Committee Chairman and Vice President,
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

CC: Howard Males, Chair, 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council
George W. Rumsey, President, HPKCC


University of Chicago on its purchase of Harper Court and its objectives, centered in a neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment

University press release, May 13, 2008. More at http://news.uchicago.edu/news.php?asset_id=1363

To: Members of the University Community
From: David Greene, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
Re: Harper Court announcement

I am pleased to report that the University has purchased Harper Court from the Harper Court Arts Council. The $6.5 million purchase is part of a joint project of the University and the City of Chicago to revitalize the retail environment on 53rd Street.

As President Zimmer indicated in his letter to the University community in March, at a time when the University is preparing for significant investments in academic programs and support for faculty and students, we also recognize the need to continue strengthening our surrounding communities. We are committed as part of this process to supporting economic development, including retail and commercial development in Hyde Park.

The Harper Court project, which was announced by Alderman Preckwinkle at yesterday’s meeting of the Advisory Council for the 53rd Street TIF (Tax-Increment Financing) District, will link Harper Court and the adjacent City Parking Lot as the site of a significant new commercial and retail development. We are grateful for Alderman Preckwinkle’s leadership in making this project a reality.

The University and the City have agreed that a comprehensive plan for this property represents a positive step toward creating a vibrant commercial corridor for Hyde Park that has been the subject of ongoing community discussions and surveys.

Going forward, we will pursue a City-mandated process designed to attract good ideas, high-quality developers, and active community input. The process will encourage developers to propose the best mix of uses for the site.

More information about the purchase and development of this property is available on the University’s website at http://news.uchicago.edu/news.php?asset_id=1363.

I look forward to updating you on the Harper Court project and encourage your engagement in the public input process.

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From the University of Chicago Chronicle, May 15, 2008

The University has purchased Harper Court from the Harper Court Art Council for $6.5 million a part of a community planning process to revitalize the retail environment on 53rd Street.

Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle announced the joint project between the University and the City of Chicago at the Monday, May 12 meeting of the 53rd Street TIF (Tax-Increment Financing) District. It is the result of agreement between the City, Harper Court Arts Council and the University. The University will lead the city-mandated development process, which will be designed to attract good ideas, high-quality developers and ongoing community input.

The first step of the development process will be to seek qualified development teams, who will submit detailed proposals for the best mix of uses for Harper Court and the city Parking Lot.

"I have brought together the parties--the City, the Harper Court Arts Council and the University--to facilitate this purchase and partnership. The project is part of an ongoing effort to explore redevelopment in the TIF district, which has already had much success, including bringing high-quality retail and entertainment businesses to the area," Preckwinkle said.

President Zimmer described the University's goals in the project: "The University has interest in fostering a lively and positive environment for residents and businesses in Hyde Park and beyond. Redeveloping 53rd Street is a priority identified by both campus and neighborhood communities. This project is representative of the University's continuing efforts--in education, employment, healthcare and safety--to contribute to a vibrant and livable community.

"Ideally, this project will be reflective of the distinctive nature of Hyde Park and represent the best of Chicago's mid-South."

The Harper Court Arts Council will use funds from the purchase to continue its efforts in support of the arts and business development in Hyde Park and neighboring communities. The Harper Court Arts Council is the successor organization to the Harper Court Foundation, which opened the first shops in Harper Court in 1965. At the time, music and arts-related business dominated the commercial space, but a different mix of retailers gradually became tenants.

The shopping center now has 23 stores and restaurants, as well as a veterinary clinic. Current renters have received notification, and discussions have been held about timeline and available resources to help with relocation. Most Harper Court shops have month-to-month leases; these tenants have been assured that their leases will extend at least through 2008.

The University and the City have agreed that a comprehensive plan for developing Harper Court and the adjacent City Parking Lot represents a positive step toward creating the commercial corridor for Hyde Park, which has been the subject on ongoing community discussions and surveys.

Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President for Community and Government Affairs, described recent community efforts to re-imagine 53rd Street: "There has been a good work done by a number of organizations. The 53rd Street Vision Workshop, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, the TIF Council, the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference and others have all made valuable contributions. Surveys and discussions have helped to build a shared vision.

"Going forward, we seek a productive dialogue that helps to anticipate and address outstanding issue and potential community priorities and needs."

The public will be engaged through the 53d Street TIF Advisory Council. Prior to selection of a developer, the University and the City would present the preferred proposals to the public through the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council.

"Community discussions and surveys have generated a set of broad guideline for 53rd Street development," said Chief Financial Office Nimalan Chinniah. "We want to encourage more outdoor activity , greater diversity in dining and retail, and an environment that has more trees and landscaping. Parking and easy access also will be important considerations, and the development should carry forward, in some manner , the original purpose of Harper Court."

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In a May 16 2008 Maroon article, the University is shown to have opened up more on its broader strategies and plans re Harper, 53rd. The article also notes that the University's track record on development and commercial management has been criticized. The new thoughts include apparent University commitment to be not just guiding force in redevelopment but a guaranteed tenant-- for students and back-office uses. (two cautions: if more people and density to support retail are an objectives, how will this be furthered by renting to students, who will be in the neighborhood anyway (and whom the University says it wants nearer to or on campus?)). And use for institutional office space takes up space that was to grow commercial and business presence in the community while solidifying the University's commercial and land controlling dominance in the community, with distortions any such dominance brings.)

U of C buys Harper Court for $6.5 million. Chicago Maroon May 16, 2008. By Michael Lipkin

As part of its ongoing effort to jump-start the redevelopment of 53rd Street, the University has bought Harper Court from the Harper Court Art Council for $6.5 million, the administration announced Monday.

Harper Court, a shopping center on South Harper Avenue between East 53rd and east 52nd Streets with 23 stores and restaurants, was built in 1965 by Harper Court Foundation in an effort to support local artisans who had been displaced by urban renewal projects. Since then, the tenants have shifted from artists to retailers and the site has fallen into relative disrepair. In 2002, the foundation shifted ownership the Arts Council, which began to look for buyers.

Some Hyde Parkers began to grow frustrated at the lack of progress in developing the site over several years.

No progress was made until 2006, when Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) stepped in and decided that the city, through her office, would take over the search. She also added a neighboring city parking lot to the parcel to make it more attractive to potential developers. Since then, Preckwinkle's office has been active in its efforts to affect the property's redevelopment, working closely with Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, a neighborhood civic organization, to gauge community opinion over the property's future.

According to Associate Vice President for Community and Government Affairs Susan Campbell, Preckwinkle, who shares the University's interest in revitalizing Hyde Park, encouraged the University to buy the property.

Preckwinkle called th University's purchase of Harper Court a positive development, although she anticipated that many people would be upset by the announcement, according to the Hyde Park Herald. "It's no secret that we had expressed interest in buying the property for quite some time, perhaps a couple of years ago," Campbell said. "Given the increased number of inquiries and complaints about retail opportunities, we thought now might be an appropriate time to act."

The members of the arts council could not be reached for comment, but according to a statement released this week, they said that they would use the money from the sale to create an endowment to fund local artists.

Tenants of Harper Court were recently notified of the change in ownership and have been offered assistance in possible relocation when their leases expire sometime after December 2008, according to a University press release.

Campbell said that the University's role would not be that of a permanent landlord nor of a sole director of the search for developers, but a catalyst for developer interest.

"We're partnering with the city in the search, and hoping that by having our name as part of the partnership, we'll attract developers from a wider net," she said.

Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives David Greene emphasized the clout the University could have in the search for retail and development. "We bring the potential to be an anchor tenet [or tenant?] in some programs.

There's a potential for housing for members of our community in a master lease," Greene said, referring to the possibility of having the University sublet potential apartments in the space to students.

He also noted Harper Court's ability to provide additional University office space. New developers were enticed by the land now that the University has sponsored guaranteed renters. This interest did not exist before the University bought the land.

While the administration and the alderman are optimistic about the possibilities for redevelopment, others are more reserved about their projections. Peter Rossi, a professor of marketing and statistics at the Graduate school of School of Business and a contributor to Hyde Park Progress, a sometimes partisan blog run by Hyde Park residents interested in community development issues, said that while this is a positive first step, given the Art Council's poor management, success is by no means assured.

"The University doesn't have a good track record with commercial properties: the Harper Theater, Hyde Park Shopping Center, the Co-Op. They also own a portion of Kimbark Plaza. I wouldn't call these properties successes," Rossi said. "The University has a tremendous stake in the neighborhood," Rossi said, but the problem is scale. You need large blocks of retail space to make these projects successful."

Greene agreed wholeheartedly. "We're going to talk to developers about overall plans about retail in the area, not just one or two stores. We need to develop a critical mass," Greene said.

"We don't want a one-off project, but a larger vision," he said. He suggested that Harper Theater, another University-owned property on 53rd Street whose retail spaces are currently empty and awaiting tenants, could play a role in future development deals involving Harper Court.

The University and the city are soliciting detailed proposals from potential developers of the space. The finalists they select will be presented to the public for approval.

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And what about the tenants?

Provision for the current tenants was one of 6 or so key principals evolved by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference from a series of 2006 workshops and adopted by Shopping Center then-owner Harper Court Arts Council as Guiding Principles. At the May 12 2008 TIF meeting where the RFP process and timetable for redevelopment was rolled out, audience members stressed the importance of a good provision for current tenants in a shopping center whose original purpose was to provide space for needed but financially marginal services, businesses, and arts/crafts venues.

To date, businesses have received excellent help in relocating, mainly by University of Chicago (starting long before they bought the center in spring 2008), often in University-owned buildings. Those accommodated include the no-brainer's such as Nancy Stanek's beloved Toys Et Cetera (to Hyde Park Shopping Center), and the culturally important Dr. Wax (to a building to the west on Harper). The University has promised month-to-month leases will be good at least through 2008 and says it will help. Some tenants say communication on the future has been minimal. And it appears from the article below that at least some of the tenants (as well as the author) know nothing or little of the RFP process.

The article below talks about some of the remaining tenants and life in an uncertain and partially deserted Harper Court. (Note that Park 52 restaurant has brought a spark of life.) Beneath the radar it appears that the HC Foundation then Arts Council were less than accommodating to a range of tenants who have left and that tenants were left out of the loop; others say not so. Some tenants are reported to have made little effort to prepare for the future. And some others are reputed to have unacceptable ties.

Chicago Maroon, May 23, 2008. by Kate Shepherd

For Harper Court tenants, nostalgia and uncertainty.

Bruce Kyes, the owner of the Plants Alive florist in Harper Court, remembers when the Court was a bustling shopping center. Christmas was an eventful time for t he shopping center's patrons and merchants, with a Santa Claus sitting for children and opera singers going from business to business singing carols. a garden in the middle of the center attracted children and served as an epicenter for community events. It was a popular spot for casual chess games and tournaments.

Plants Alive has been in Harper Court since its Hyde Park debut in 1965 and is the only remaining business of the original Harper Court stores. Since his store opened, Kyes has seen about 50 businesses set up shop then shut down, he said. "They've come and gone; it used to be a much busier place," he said.

Over the past five or six years, Harper Court's business has gradually gone downhill, Kyes said. "The remaining stores left because there started to be less and less traffic," Kyes said.

A farmer's market was introduced to the shopping center a few years ago, which helped some of the businesses but hurt Kyes's florist business, since people started buying flowers from the market instead of the store.

Last week, the University announced its purchase of Harper Court from the Harper Court Arts Council for $6.5 million and informed Harper Court business owners of the property's impending closure. Although it means that in th coming months Kyes will shutter his windows after more than 40 years, he said he is pleased with the purchase, adding that the University has shown concern about the center's merchants in the past. "We just love their attitude. They were clear and helpful," he said.

Still, Kyes said Harper Court merchants did not know about the sale of the shopping center until late in the negotiation process. "Originally we thought it was going to be sold to a developer who was going to tear it down. That plan fell through, and we were really never told anything about it again. We did not even know it was up for sale. The merchants were out of the loop," he said of the process.

The assistant manager of Harper Court's Calypso Cafe restaurant, Brenda Forsythe, is concerned about Harper Court's, and therefore Calypso's fate. The only thing I could be concerned about is what could happen to Calypso Cafe," Forsythe said. "It would be a concern to us at our restaurant. We are very established in this area. Forsythe has not discussed the purchase extensively with the management team and has no idea what the University plans to do with Harper Court or when, she said.

The University has not announced its development plans for the property. Nevertheless, Kyes said he has faith that the University will help business owners find other outlets when they're finally forced to close shop. "They were very nice about it. We're going to stay here at least until the demolition begins," he said. "We're just happy that it's not a developer who is going to tear Harper Court down immediately and does not care about the fate of the merchants."

Kyes said that the opening of Park 52, a new American-style bistro, in Harper Court last month has brought increased business to the center's merchants. Plants Alive has seen an increase in foot traffic and sales, he said. "We're happy about Park 52 opening," Kyes said. "People have been coming every day."

Park 52's Director of Operations Kari Fitzgerald said that so far the restaurant has garnered significant business. She added that the Harper Court location is ideal because of its proximity to the historic Checkerboard Lounge and the building's size. Fitzgerald said she thinks the University's purchase will help Harper Court business owners, including Park 52. I believe it will positively affect our business. By revitalizing Harper Court it will help the businesses," Fitzgerald said. "People who would not normally come here will come here now. We're excited," she said.

"I do not see why anyone would be upset. I think anyone taking an interest in Harper Court is great," she said. " Anything that will bring more foot traffic into the neighborhood will help existing businesses."

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Long-time follower of Harper Court Charlotte Des Jardins questions UC motive in buying Harper Court citing wrong alliances with "secretive" and "off-purpose" Arts Council, alderman and asks "hard questions" of Arts Council:

1. What is the Harper Court Arts Council's specific plan for distribution of the $6.5 million sale to fund community arts projects?

2. How will the community be notified of the distribution plan and the application requirements for beneficiaries?

3. How can we assure that the distribution process will be equitable, and how will the HCAC and Ald. Preckwinkle be held accountable?

During the University of Chicago's PowerPoint presentation of its Harper Court Architectural Plan at the May 12 TIF meeting, I searched for information about the involvement of artists and artisans, in keeping with its original mission. I found none, and the presenter could offer no information in response to my question.

It's up to the university now. They have a chance to provide a real service to the community by incorporating an art colony in its Harper Court plan. will they rise to the challenge and impact the community in a positive way, involving community residents during the planning as well as the implementation stage? Or will this be just another land grab without regard to its negative impact on community residents?

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Curtis Black in the Community Media Workshop Newstips blog brings together the concerns of many.

by Curtis Black
http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=191
May 22nd, 2008

Could the University of Chicago get a few million dollars back on the $6.5 million purchase price for Harper Court?

The Harper Court Arts Foundation, which is selling the nonprofit shopping center to the University, has said it will disburse its assets to local cultural charities, and earlier listed the University's multimillion dollar drive to build a new performing arts center as a possible recipient.
A spokesperson at the Attorney General's office thought that might be legal.

The bigger question, though, is whether the resulting redevelopment will be worse than the University's first development disaster, the urban renewal program of the 1960s (see Jane Jacob's "Death and Life of Great American Cities" for details; Arnold Hirsch explores the racial motivations in "The Making of the Second Ghetto").

The track record of the dominant parties is not promising.

Fourth Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, who has said she "brought together the parties" to complete the sale, has developed a giant shopping center on 47th Street which for years has lacked an anchor tenant. Other than that, she's facilitated a drive-through McDonalds and a Borders bookstore, which doesn't seem to have hurt locally-owned bookstores much, but which was recently making noises about closing due to low profit margins.

In recent year, the University of Chicago bought the Hyde Park Shopping Center at 55th and Lake Park and redeveloped it into an even worse example of the sprawl esthetic. Then several years ago, they bought the historic Hyde Park Theater (adjacent to Harper Court) — and last week announced they had fired a developer who had successfully located a number of solid and worthy potential retailers and restaurants. The problem? They weren't the national chains the University wants.

(The University is said want "name" stores that are recognizable to parents of prospective students — though the Border's experience shows that the commitment of such enterprises to the communities where they're located is minimal.)

The ultimate irony is that all of Hyde Park's commercial shortcomings stem from the University's disastrous urban renewal program, which completely leveled the neighborhood's commercial strip on 55th Street and replaced it with a sterile modernist wasteland.

"The best thing would be if the University got out of real estate completely," said local activist Jack Spicer, who recently worked with the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference on a community planning process for Harper Court (results are here, and much more at HPKCC's site). "The University doesn't have to make a living at it, so they can afford to make every mistake in the book."

He expects the Alderman and the University will use eminent domain to demolish the stores and offices on 53rd east of Harper (which include the storied Valois restaurant), creating a mega block for the Harper Court project.

"We need incremental, regular, ongoing development," Spicer said. "Instead we get a big burp every 50 years, and then we're stuck with a massive development that will go out of style, but it's so big there's nothing you can do with it."

He points out: "Fifty years ago, 55th Street was very similar to Belmont Avenue; both of them were crowded and messy." Then the University worked its magic, while Belmont developed incrementally. "Today no one would take 55th Street over Belmont."

There are also questions about the Harper Court Arts Council, which "has pushed aside" its original purpose, according to Charlotte Des Jardins in a letter to the Hyde Park Herald. Des Jardins writes as one of hundreds of Hyde Parkers who bought small bonds in the early 1960s to finance Harper Court as a refuge for artisans and small businesses pushed out by urban renewal.

Arts Council board members "began to think and act like Harper Court was their own private property," she writes. "They met secretly, without public notice, to plan its demise, with representatives from the University and the 4th Ward alderman, who never asked her constituents for their input." She cites Arts Council minutes which she tells Newstips she obtained through an FOIA request to the Attorney General's office.

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Comments submitted by Gary Ossewaarde

Comments on the Guidelines for Harper Court Area RFP

May 27, 2008

From Gary M. Ossewaarde

To Chicago Consultants Studio
19 S. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60603

Dear Chicago Consultants Studio and parties to the RFP:

I am asking one alteration and two additions to the presented proposed Guidelines (the document). Overall, the document follows the general findings and recommendations of study reports, forums, surveys, and public comments refined over the past decade. (I also here commend UC for assisting in tenant relocation, past and future.)

I. My first concern is that despite use of the word “mixed” throughout, the emphasis, especially in Development Objectives, on “image and identity” and “high quality” may be read excessively as “mostly upscale.” This could lead to divergence from the character of the neighborhood, discourage some developers, or lead to unrealistic marketing.

I call your attention to 1) the University of Chicago’s recent release of its developer from the 53rd and Harper buildings, in part over difficulty signing upscale and national-name retailers and to 2) findings in a recent retail study commissioned by the University that indicates barriers to drawing major, upscale, or national-name retailers to the area. One understands that the University (the recent purchaser) would want to be able to call attention in its recruiting literature to the presence of nationally recognized retailers, but in my experience, presence of such retailers would only be a minor factor in successful University recruitment, Also, distance and poor fit for campus transportation are among several reasons students in general do not shop 53rd Street and Harper Court. The risk of long delays in developing and leasing the site (or even of creating a Block 37, especially should the footprint be expanded just to bet on one or two national stores) are too great to have the RFP and development swayed by outside-focus objectives.

I certainly welcome national and upscale stores as part of the mix, even if there are sometimes problems with national stores adapting to local needs. Yet, both studies and public comments have consistently emphasized a vision for Harper Court and 53rd Street that is not heavily large or upscale: “mixed”—as in new and old structures, varieties and sizes of retail and entertainment options, and filling diverse needs and tastes of our economically diverse shopping populations and market catchments circles, “choices,” “things we can’t buy or do here,” “unique experience.”

(May I advise also that the document be reviewed for things that might contribute to high rents that could skew the development toward an (unattainable?) upscale exclusivity.

I suggest emphasizing balance by adding to the Objective that starts “Attract a high quality mix,” language from the residential objective: “Increase the retail and entertainment offerings with a mix of product types and business affordability and for a range of customer incomes.”

II. Since we are a mixed-income community, and since the original public purposes of Harper Court were to provide refuge and start up space for businesses and artisans, and since the recent manager is a Arts Council, let’s use these conditions and historic purposes to enhance the mix, choices, and unique experiences referenced above as well as have our vision for commercial character match the objective for the residential component. Therefore, I suggest we add in the Program Criteria: Other Commercial and Specialty Uses, “Space must be found to accommodate start-up and incubator business and artisan/arts businesses and space for community organizations and meetings. The latter would help return the Lake Park-Harper spine to its role as town center.

I have some additional concerns. Events are moving very fast with the University purchase of Harper Court. We must take care that the envisioned objectives and uses for the development are not diminished or distorted by any University institutional uses the University may decide it wants in the development. There also may be risks should the footprint be expanded (other than Hollywood Video, which is a no-brainer). Timeframe may be unduly extended, especially if the Theater is included and must be made contiguous to the development through other inclusions. Expansion could also create instability for or loss of the viable businesses on 53rd across from the Bank.

Cordially,

Gary M. Ossewaarde

CC Chuck Thurow, Ald. Preckwinkle, Susan Campbell, George Rumsey

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Harper Court Arts Council spins off in a new direction as it sells shopping center to UC, original purposes included.

For more detail on legalities dispute click here. What HCAC is doing is recently confirmed to be legal by the Attorney General, and in accord with what the Attorney General's office asked, but the latter will continue to watch. Others ask, how will the new endowed board be chosen and renewed, and how will they be held accountable besides with general bylaws provisions? The two missions encompass both retail diversity and arts. Does grants to individuals and organizations exclude the University?

Hyde Park Herald, June 4, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Harper Court Arts Council to expand, restructure. Board member pledges nonprofit will be "very open"

Revised Mission statement:

"The Corporation shall be organized for the dual purposes of (1) economic development specifically in the Hyde Park and Kenwood communities through projects designed to provide for the continuation in the community of diversified properties and programs which are necessary for artisans, craftsmen, educational, recreational and other services offered on a commercial or not-for-profit basis and (2) to support, benefit and provide for the promotion of th arts in the Chicago metropolitan area with specific emphasis in the Hyde Park Kenwood communities ("Hyde Park") through the awarding of grants and sponsorships to community based groups and individuals."

The Harper Court Arts Council, the nonprofit organization that has been at the center of controversy in its role as steward of the Harper Court shopping center, has a new bylaws that requires community outreach and an expanded, recognized board of directors.

The bylaws were amended in April, about a month before the University of Chicago announced it had bought Harper Court..... The Arts Council received $6.5 million from the sale.

The changes to the bylaws were meant to ensure that the Arts Council's board is representative of the community, said Robyn Ziegler, a spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General's office. The office has been monitoring the Arts Council since early 2006, about a month after the Harper Court Foundation, the nonprofit that had run the shopping center for 40 years, transferred its assets to the Arts Council, an offshoot organization formed in 1990 to promote the arts in Hyde Park.

The idea behind the transfer, Arts Council board members have explained, was to sell the flagging shopping center to a developer who could revitalize it and funnel the assets into an organization to support arts and artists. This, they've argued, was a way to further the original mission of Harper Court, built in 1965 to support artists displaced by Urban Renewal.

But some in the community, including Hyde Park attorney Jorge Sanchez, claimed the transfer was illegal because the foundation installed some of its members into director positions at the Arts Council. And, he charged, the foundation didn't dissolve after it transferred its assets. In a letter to the Attorney General, he also argued it is unlawful to move the money to a nonprofit with a different mission, since in his view the Arts Council's work promoting the arts didn't match the foundation's original mission toe preserve retail diversity.

The Attorney General's office has reported nothing illegal about the transfer but has made some recommendations about restructuring the Arts Council, according to Ziegler. Sanchez--and other Hyde Parkers--have complained that the Arts Council's board has been non communicative as talks about the sale and redevelopment of the shopping center have heated up.

But the university's purchase of the shopping center and the organizational changes within the Arts Council mark a new era, according to board member Nancy Rosenbacher. "There will be no invisible anything with this Arts Council," she said. "Anything we might do will be very open."

The Arts Council will use the fund towards its mission to support arts in the community (see the box...). "We'll continue to monitor their progress," said Ziegler.

The new bylaws require a board composed of 10 to 15 people. That's at least three more than the board had in February 2006, when it sent a letter to the Herald signed by seven people: Paula Jones, Nancy Rosenbacher, Mary Anton, James Ratcliffe, Kenneth Grant, Georgene Pavalec and Duel Richardson. An eighth, Attorney Jason Bruce, was later added, according to Rosenbacher.

Since the new bylaws were written, the board has decided to add three more more members, she said. She declined to name them yet, saying she needed to wait until each of them has been officially notified by the board. That is expected to happen in coming weeks, she said, adding that all of the new members have "foundation backgrounds."

The bylaws also include detailed stipulations about the makeup of the board. For example, no less than 75 percent of its members must live in Hyde Park or Kenwood. And at least a quarter of the members must have arts background, experience in economic development in Hyde Park and Kenwood, and be member of Hyde Park or Kenwood Community organizations.

The bylaws also require community outreach, with the board mandated to "encourage participation by the groups and individuals that are intended to benefit from the Corporation's activities, and to listen to, and obtain feedback from, members of the Hyde Park community." The Arts Council is also required to maintain a detailed website where annual reports will be published within six months of the close of each fiscal year.

Reaching out to the community will be the Arts Council's next big step, Rosenbacher said. The group's focus is to "get organized and send notices out to the community looking for projects," she said, adding "Summer's coming. I'm sure we'll get most active in the fall."

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Introductory remarks on Harper Court change, process in the 21st century

It looks like an inclusive process for Harper will be set up as part of a larger planning process possibly with professional facilitators-- The nearing approach of Harper Court RFQ/RFP process- starting as soon as spring 2008 - was the "rush reason" for the 53rd Vision Workshop. HPKCC's expanded Development Committee is planning with the TIF Neighborhood and Business Environment Committee and community organizations a process-- inclusive and community wide to reconsider and finalize guidelines for the Harper RFP and varied Harper Court options. For information contact Gary Ossewaarde at hpkcc@aol.com or George Rumsey at rumsey@aol.com.

Planning continues for 53rd and beyond area planning step 2 (step 1 was the Dec.8 Visioning Workshop)

A caveat on multiple processes.

While several processes are going on at once, they are not all sponsored by all the same entities. HPKCC wishes to support or be in dialogue with most, looking toward as much community participation and viewpoints as possible. HPKCC is only a partner in many, despite what headlines say.

Here is an objection to possible confusion. By Pat Wilcoxen to Feb. 27, 2007 Herald.

The sub-headline of your cover story on "The new Harper Court?" gives the casual reader the impression that the article is about THE preliminary design, supported by the photo. It is totally premature for 20 people to endorse a plan an "drum up support" for their vision of a portion of the new Harper Court. As has been publicized, a number of people in the community have been working on an initiative to involve as many people as possible to come up with guiding principles so that each of the developers who respond to the request for proposals for Harper Court and the city parking lot will know in advance the community's concerns and work WITH us to come up with several possibilities that we can consider, knowing that this site will not satisfy all our ideas for the street. We want developers to work with us, not against a pre-conceived design.

To give the impression that there is a preliminary design is a disservice to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and other organizations which are trying to include as many people as possible in visioning the new 53rd Street. This is one idea, and the emphasis should be on drumming up support for more participation, not for or against this particular design.

Reports on the February 26 2008 HPKCC Development Committee and TIF Neighborhood and Business Environment Subcommittee public meeting on Harper Court RFP process

Prepared by Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC vice president and hydepark.org web writer
From the March 2008 Conference

Community learns about, queries RFP process for Harper Court

On February 26 the HPKCC Development Committee [chair Gary Ossewaarde] and the 53rd St. TIF Business and Neighborhood Environment Committee (chairs Andre Brumfield and Jane Comiskey) convened a community meeting at the Neighborhood Club to learn about and discuss the anticipated Request for Proposals process for Harper Court. George Rumsey, HPKCC President, moderated. James Wilson, 4th Ward Project Manager in the Chicago Department of Planning and Development presented. Answering questions with Wilson were Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th); Howard Males, TIF Advisory Council Chair; and Irene Sherr, Community Counsel, counsel to the TIF.

The meeting followed a series of joint planning meetings (outlined in a handout) which also produced a Community Survey on Harper Court Priorities announced at the meeting... and is also part of a larger community input process on 53rd Street and business district visioning and planning process (information available at www.vision53.org and in www.hydepark.org.[)]

A two-part Request for Proposals (RFP) for Harper Court and the City Parking Lot at 53rd and Lake Park and likely to last up to a year is likely to be inaugurated at the May 12 TIF Advisory Council meeting. Mr. Wilson and Ald. Preckwinkle said it is their intent to make the process as open and transparent as possible, with opportunity for comment as well as review. But, they noted, there may be documents, especially in proposals, that are proprietary or involve financial and ability-to-produce and complete the project information that the city has to review in private. Wilson noted that RFP review is the most transparent process the city has. This RFP will be tailored to allow the community to help shape the guidelines and requirements given potential developers. Finalists will be required to present their proposals to the community. Many, and occasionally all, proposals have been rejected in RFP processes.

An RFP is a legislative process whereby a qualified development team is chosen through competition. The Department of Planning controls the process, consulting with or through local aldermen. The selection and planned development must be approved by the Community Development Commission and City Council.

Because of the size and complexity of this project, potential developers will be gauged and winnowed in two stages. Part of the complexity, Wilson said, is due to the mixed-use nature, this community’s sense of identity, historical character, and standards, and some due to goals, especially to enhance the pedestrian character and friendliness of the area, melding with transportation and access, and the combining of public and private land. The first stage, request for qualifications, will mainly judge proof of financial ability and experience to conduct and complete this project. The second stage is also aimed at what best fits for this development and the community.

The development framework for RFPs
· Order appraisals, surveys, title work (Title of the property must be free.)
· Draft the document (about 100 pages)
· City legislative process- presentation to and approval by Community Development Commission
· Advertisement (Sun-Times, city website, other; likely a broker or facilitator)
· Pre-bid conference at City Hall 2-3 weeks after Advertisement
· Deadline passes, respondents’ financials and experience reviewed (90+ days)
· Those qualifying are invited to submit a proposal in phase 2—they submit large documents showing conformity to the criteria and requirements (must be close), legal and financial information, drawings, resumes of partners.
· 2-3 finalists present to the community
· Final choice is submitted to Community Development Commission for public hearing. (CDC has 12 members, appointed by the Mayor; some are ex officio)
· City Council committee hearing and approval, full City Council approval

Community Q and A

Where are the initial points for public input? Ideas for criteria should go to the TIF or Alderman Preckwinkle’s office now. The Survey data will also be submitted. As the RFP is prepared, the department will come to the TIF with proposed criteria. Wilson would check with city legal as to whether and how much of the RFP document could be available for view and comment before being issued. The alderman agreed there will be a 30 day comment period as with the Harper Theater. A generic or sample RFP will be provided and posted on line.

Criteria suggested included Minority and Women participation, an affordable housing component, and accessibility, all assured as mandatory components.

How will zoning changes be addressed? Criteria such as height and coverage will be specified, likely using existing limits. RFP does not morph a project to suit a proposal outside the criteria.

How will the private property part be incorporated into the RFP and controlled by its criteria? The legal department is working on this; a memorandum of agreement will be needed. Review at the various stages will have to be done jointly by the owners.

How strict will the guidelines on materials, architecture and other quality standards be? Very. Much of this is specified in state law.

Are responses likely? Yes, several developers have already met with the city.

When will responses be made available? When there are finalists and only such material as the finalist will make available in a presentation. Audience members insisted that as much as possible to guide preference be made available, including ahead, online.

Who would control the current public and private property once selection is made and a sale concluded? The chosen developer would control all the property, privately. Top



City planner explains Harper Court proposals

Hyde Park Herald, March 5 2008. By Kate Hawley

Hyde Parkers got a glimpse into the inner workings of city planning last wee, when a city official explained how a developer will be chosen for the Harper Court shopping center. Harper Court, located on South Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets, is slated for redevelopment, though no firm timeline has yet been set.

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, James Wilson, of the Department of Planning and Development, came to Hyde Park at the behest of two neighborhood groups, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and the 53rd Street TIF Council. Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) also attended.

Wilson, who has handled 4th Ward planning for the last six years, addressed a group of about 30 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Cub, at 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. He explained that the city owns the parking lot adjacent to the Harper Court property, which will likely be included in the redevelopment plans. That means the city can issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking developers.

The other part of the land is owned by the Harper Court Arts Council, a private non-profit. It's unclear at this point how the Arts council will participate in the redevelopment of the property. "The lawyers are still working though some issues related to this," Preckwinkle said.

Questions have surrounded the redevelopment of Harper Court since the Harper Court Foundation transferred ownership of the 40-year-old shopping center to the Arts Council in December 2005. Some Hyde Park residents, most recently a local attorney, have contacted Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, claiming the transfer as illegal. Madigan's office has s far stopped short of accusing the Arts Council of illegality, instead recommending some organizational changes.

The RFP for Harper Court will happen in two stages, due to project's complexity, Wilson said, adding that a developer planning to build on the site must take into consideration its size, density, the nearby transportation, parking, and the character of the community.

The first stage is a request for qualifications or RFQ, which asks developers with appropriate experience to submit their names. In the second stage, called the RFP, the city narrows the field, asking developers it deems qualified to submit proposals. The city drafts the RFQ and the RFP based on recommendations from the community, Wilson said.

The RFQ and RFP for Harper Court will draw from the 53rd Street Vision Workshop, held Dec. 8 by a variety of Hyde Park groups, according to Ald. Preckwinkle. At that event, more than 50 people voted on how they'd like to see the 53rd Street commercial corridor redeveloped.

And the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is currently promoting a survey seeking community input on Harper Court. It's available online at hydepark.org/survey. [Now closed.]

Once the RFQ and RFP are approved by the city's Community Development Commission, the city places ads in major newspapers seeking developers. Two or three weeks later, pre-bid conferences begin at City Hall, in which interested developers have preliminary meetings with Planning Department representatives. Several weeks later, the city sets a deadline for developers to respond to the RF.

For some larger projects, the city brings in a broker or consultant to seek out qualified developers. Wilson said he's lobbying for this option for Harper Court, to speed what promises to be a complex process.

The city then chooses developers for the next round, who get no less than 90 days to come up with proposals. Those are typically reviewed for four to six weeks. The top two or three developers will be invited by the alderman to present their projects to the community. A 30-day public comment period typically follows these presentations, Preckwinkle said.

The whole process can last 90 days or nine months, depending on its size and complexity, Wilson said. An RFP is "the most transparent and open process the city has," he said. "It's the only process I know of that encourages competition."

Some who attended the meeting wished the process were more open. Roger Huff said he felt the community oversight wasn't adequate, since developers aren't require to present the entire RFP to the community. Preckwinkle said that's because the documents contain confidential financial information, among other reasons. Wilson said he would check the legality of presenting the entire RFP to the community.

Community involvement has emerged as a key issue relating the redevelopment of Harper Court, in part because the community has had a stake in the shopping center since its inception. It was conceived as a way for local artisans displaced by Urban Renewal to showcase their work. Funding came from the federal government and a local bond-selling program. Many of the bondholders later donated their investments to the project.

In recent years, Harper Court's fortunes have faded, as tenants have complained about dwindling foot traffic and an ailing physical structure.

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Here's Jay Mulberry's note on the March 5 physical visioning of one possible look for Harper Court.

[Note that people are looking at broad concepts, and using particular architecture styles et al as fillers. GO]

Last night people interested in Harper Court met for the third or fourth
time to discuss plans that are being mutually developed by the community and
with the generously donated help of Aaron Cook of the Romero Cook Design
Studio <http://romerocook.com>. The project is being pursued under the
auspices of the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Council and is meant to give
some meat to the RFQ process now in progress to rebuild Harper Court.

I have found these meetings *extremely* interesting and can hardly do
justice to the lively conversations that take place in them. The concepts
are quickly evolving into a plan that I think can greatly enhance the
community.

Rather than try to do them justice, and perhaps get fried by people who have
a different take on the matter, I will recommend that you work page by page
through the drawings that start at http://www.romerocook.com/hc.html.
Fascinating!

If you want get right to the meant, jump to an animated overview of what has
evolved in the project so far at http://www.romerocook.com/hc93.html

Please note that there will be a meeting for the community on Wednesday,
April 9, at the Neighborhood Club to show and discuss the latest and nearly
complete version of the plan.

Put it on your calendar NOW. It is not something you would want to miss.

_____________________________
Planning for the priorities survey and the February 26 2008 forum

The Steering Committee met February 4, reviewed Trish Morse's compilation of past studies and public input on Harper Court, reviewed and modified web (plus) Priority Survey (when vetted by February 10 will go up through March), set agenda for February 26 agenda and set survey results review date as March 3. See Summary of Past Input into Priorities, following, and coverage of planning.

Survey, workshop seek residents' views on Harper Court's future.

Hyde Park Herald February 27, 2008
Residents hoping to weigh in on the future of Harper Court can now take a survey on how the shopping center should be redeveloped. The anonymous survey, which is available online at hydepark.org/survey, addresses what kinds of businesses a new harper Court should have and what its design should look like, among other issues. It's designed to take less than 10 minutes to complete.

The survey was created by a working group comprised of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's development Committee and the53rd Street TIF Council's Neighborhood and Business Environment Committee.

[Ed. correction- the following group is not connected to the TIF Council and is not empowered to produce any preliminary plan, just it own concept. A group] will host a workshop showing one possible design for a new Harper Court, as a way to spark discussion about the redevelopment. The workshop, the third in a series, will be held Wednesday, March 5 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. Planner Aaron Cook will show and discuss his renderings. The public is welcome.

Continue, following

Summary Document on Harper Court Priorities

Complied by Trish Morse, HPKCC Secretary, as a fulfillment of request of Alderman Preckwinkle for the TIF committee and HPKCC to compile/prepare community input into Guidelines for a Harper Court RFP for March 2008. Morse used the documents listed above in preparing her report, submitted to Harper Court Future Steering Committee February 4, 2008. The headings and organization were suggested by Harper Court Arts council in its June 2006 document. This document is the foundation for a Priorities Survey being compiled.
The following can be viewed in its own page.

[Documents used to compile the Survey:

  1. "Guiding Principles to be Incorporated into RFP," July 10, 2006, Harper Court Arts Council.
  2. "Harper Court Forum: Ideas and Principles," April 25, 2006, HPKCC [see link at top of page.]
  3. PowerPoint presentation for the development of the 53rd and Harper University property, January 9, 2006, University of Chicago and SECC [Find in Theater RFP page.]
  4. "A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District, March 2000," Skidmore, Owings, Merrill.
  5. "Design Guidelines for Commercial, Industrial, and Mixed-Use Buildings," City of Chicago. [Search in www.cityofchicago.org; some of this is in the preceding document and in Small Business Improvement Funds and Accommodating Persons with Disabilities guidelines sections.]
  6. www.vision53.org (polling results of the 53rd Street vision Workshop, December 8, 2007).]

Survey content created at www.surveymethods.com.

The 53rd Street Future Steering Committee,
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Development Committee
RFP guidelines task force: Gary Ossewaarde (chair), Trish Morse, Charles Newsome

*Harper Court*: Draft Guidelines for RFP and Possible Points for Priority Survey
By Patricia Morse - February 4, 2008

*Gateway to 53rd Street Business District*
1. Pedestrian friendly on Lake Park, 53rd, and Harper Avenue to welcome into the space
2. Flexible design for changing needs
3. Relate to the 53rd Street streetscape—modern design with sensitivity to the three-story brick buildings and redone Hyde Park Bank building as its immediate neighbors.
4. Destination –needs dramatic design, signage
5. ADA accessibility
6. Environmentally friendly (e.g., rooftop garden, green technology, trees

*Mixed Use Development*
7. Recreational
a. Opportunities for teenagers (e.g., skateboard park)
8. Shopping
a. Clothing
b. Specialty stores
c. Stores that serve the arts (e.g., sewing, crafts, art supplies, fiber art)
d. Art galleries
e. Major retail
9. Nightlife
a. Cinema
b. Theatre/performance space
c. Spaces for poetry readings, smaller interactive performances
d. Music
10. Dining
a. Sidewalk café
b. Bars
c. "Destination" dining
11. Office space
a. Small businesses and professionals
b. Space for services (e.g., veterinarian)
12. Residential (e.g., Upper story residential)

*Public Space for Street Level Activity*
13. Large public space (e.g., for Farmers' Market, Art Festivals, Concerts)
14. Spaces for impromptu gatherings (chess tables)
15. Landscaping—trees, seating, flowers
16. Well-lit ambiance at night

*Parking*
17. Multilevel parking garage to serve it and the Hyde Park business district
18. Available day and night
19. Unobtrusive parking at the back of the development or underground
20. Unobtrusive truck delivery (along 52nd?)

*Carry Forward the Original Purpose of Harper Court*
21. Space for small businesses, artisans, and cooperative art galleries
22. Provide subsidies/"affordable" rents to nurture local artisans
23. Space for interactive entertainment (e.g., music, poetry, art)

*Developer Must Present Development Plans for Public Comment*

Continues following
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Harper Court Arts Council statement of guidelines for Harper Court redevelopment, mid 2006, used as sections for the 2008 HPKCC Priorities Survey.

Harper Court Arts Council
Guiding Principles to be incorporated into RFP
DRAFT July 10, 2006

  1. Recognition that 53rd Street and Harper Avenue is the center of the Hyde Park Business District, and 53rd & Lake Park Boulevard an important gateway to this area. Use the opportunity of the combination of the Harper Court and Parking Lot sites to rework the orientation of parking, shopping, street access, and public space to provide an attractive pedestrian-friendly urban "downtown" for the Hyde Park community, and a retail destination for the south side of Chicago.
  2. Create a mixed use development that is primarily commercial. Residential development may be included. The development should provide variety in the size and types of offerings so as to serve residents and attract customers from inside and beyond the neighborhood. A component of recreational, cultural, dining/nightlife venues is also highly desirable. Any residential component must not be of a kind, size, configuration or location as to diminish or limit types of commercial or all-hours venues.
  3. Development should be of a size and configuration that complements the Hyde Park business streetscape, and is pedestrian friendly, offers welcoming vistas, and offers space suitable to public street level activity including events, farmers' markets, and public gathering point.
  4. Development provides adequate parking consistent with both the development and the Hyde Park Business District.
  5. The development should carry forward in some degree the original purpose of Harper Court to encourage local artisans and small businesses including through the possibility of temporary relocation or phasing of building to allow tenants to continue to be part of the 53rd Street business district. Considerations might also be given to setting aside space for small businesses that might need start-up or ongoing subsidies to exist.
  6. The successful Developer will present their plans for the development for public comment and community review through the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Committee.

If you have comments or suggestions concerning these Guiding Principles, please send your comments to Artscouncilinfo@harpercourt.com.

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Harper Court survey plans near completion

Hyde Park Herald, February 13, 2008. By Sam Cholke

[Parts of this were out of date when printed as survey launch and end date were pushed back some and final refinements, introduction etc were finalized. Also, the survey is a joint product with the 53rd St. TIF Advisory Council.]

The Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) finalized questions for an online survey soliciting community input on Harper Court this week. "This will be our final fact-finding effort to find out what the community would like to see at Harper Court," said George Rumsey, president of HP-KCC.

The survey will be available online in coming weeks and will be distributed through various channels throughout the community. HP-KCC members have been compiling polls and reports on the Harper Court Shopping complex, 521 S. harper Ave, in anticipation of a request for proposals or a request for qualifications form developers. This group will submit considerations they want included in any RFP or $FQ [to] the 53rd Street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District advisory council.

"We know no [developer] is going to match every one of these needs," Rumsey said. "The purpose of this is to come to a conclusion of things the community needs."

During the Feb. 4 meeting, HP-KCC members hashed out phrasing and general completeness before handing it off to HP-KCC member Vicki Suchovsky's daughter, a doctoral student in social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to administer.

"When you put ["Carry Forward the Original Purpose of Harper Court" as No. 2, it starts framing your mind for the next questions," said Fabio Grego, an architect with Fabio Grego and Associates. Rumsey predicted that any surprise results in the survey would likely relate to that question, saying he didn't think many people were interested in preserving the court's original intent of supported artisans and small businesses.

The survey was made available to the community at large on Sunday and will be collected and compiled by March 3. The survey draws on community desires that have been documented repeatedly, most recently Dec. 8 53rd street Vision Workshop. The form asks participants to rank items such as "space for impromptu gatherings," "should become a 'destination," and others on a scale of one to five, from not important to very important.

"A lot of businesses want Harper Court to be a draw," said Lenora Austin, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. People want a new Harper Court to have higher visibility to people who aren't already familiar with it, she said. "I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone directing people [to Harper Court]. Austin said.

HPK-CC members and residents at the meeting agreed that a redeveloped Harper Court would need to draw on people Court would need to draw on people from outside the neighborhood if it's to succeed, but will now put the question to the community at large.

"If it's going to succeed, it needs to be a destination point," Rumsey said. "I think 'destination point' is open to interpretation. The interpretation of destination point elicited the most reaction during the meeting. "What I like about Hyde Park is we don't have a lot of chain stores," said Grego. Grego said he is worried that a redeveloped Harper Court might draw those chain stores. "If we rely on [people from the North side of Chicago], it's probably going to fail," said Robin Kaufman.

Rumsey reiterated that the suggestions HP-KCC will submit to the TIF council are wishes and basic guide lines for considerations, and not an attempt to limit specific businesses coming into the neighborhood. Rumsey said the only person who has the power to dictate what businesses do or do not come into the neighborhood is Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). Rumsey suggested that concerns pertaining to the appeal of or aversion to chain stores are best directed to t he alderman, and HP-KCC has no authority to make andy decision about vendors.

The last item on the survey, "Finalists should present possible plans for community input and reaction," attempts to address and create an outlet for community members' concerns about what store owners a redeveloped Harper Court would attract, Rumsey said.

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Continuing

Herald January 23, 2008. by Sam Cholke

A dozen members of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference (HP-KCC) Zoning and Development Committee met Jan. 10 to hash out plans for how the group would be involved in the future development at Harper Court, 5211 S. harper Ave.

"Harper Court has been a mangled mess," said George Rumsey, president of the HP-KCC. "It needs to be Apache in a reasonable way so that it's not more of a mess." Rumsey and the other member of HPKCC stated a desire to be involved in the process of developing the site as one voice of the community. "It always feels like something will happen tomorrow," said Jack Spicer, who added that Hyde Parkers want to be involved before something happens to ensure it benefits the community.

The members of the HPKCC agreed what a community workshop similar to the Dec. 8 53rd street vision Workshop would be a sensible way to involve the many disparate voices of Hyde Park, assuming that the workshop accurately represented the many groups in the neighborhood. The group expressed concern that if the forum were not representative of most it would not be effective.

"Some people will not come no matter how much we invite them," said Aaron Cook, a partner at Romero Cook Design Studio..."Will the plan hold any weight?" "People will look at it--that has weight," said Church Thurow, a council member on the 53d Street TIF Advisory Council. But the outcome of the workshop would not hold any legal weight, said Thurow.

"We need to involve the community before there is a negative reaction to a proposal," Pat wilcoxen said. "So far, the African American community has not been represented well."

The group repeatedly came back to the idea of inclusiveness. They said they did not want to move forward endorsing any plan unless a broad swathe of the community had had the chance to weigh in on it.

Irene sherr, a community consultant and organizer for the 53rd Street Vision Workshop, said that local officials involved in planning the future of Harper Court have been very receptive to community input, from her experience. She said the Dec. 8 workshop was received very positively and future workshop would likely be received in an equally positive manner. Sherr said t hat the last workshop produced firm data that many people in the community want the same sorts of businesses and opportunities in the neighborhood.

At the end of the night, Sherr and the members of HPKCC agreed to work together in planning future community workshops. Top

Continuing
H.P. weighs Harper Court Development, releases online survey to gauge opinion of development options

Chicago Maroon, February 29, 2008. By Michael Lipkin

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC), a neighborhood civic organization, launched several initiatives this week to solicit input on the upcoming redevelopment of Harper Court.

The group has contracted local designers to conceptualize a developed Court, and created a survey at the behest of Alderman Toni Preckwinkle to gauge Hyde Park residents' opinions on the possibility of development in order to increase community input on the plans, said HPKCC president George Rumsey.

Harper Court, a shopping center on South Harper Avenue and 53rd Street, was built in 1965 in an effort to support local businesses after many were displaced by urban renewal projects.

Currently, however, Harpers Court is in a state of disrepair, Rumsey said. "The buildings are deteriorating, there's a high vacancy rate, and there is a sense that the people managing it don't know how to fix it," he said.

These problems causes the Harper Court Arts Council, the mall's owners, to look for buyers to redevelop the property. After announcing their intentions to sell in 2002, they made no progress, prompting Preckwinkle to step in. According to HPKCC minutes from April 2006, Preckwinkle announce that due to the failure of the Arts Council to make a sale, she had decided to shift the responsibility for seeking a buyer to the city. She also decided to include an adjoining city-owned parking lot with the parcel of land to be sold in order to increase desirability of he land.

Rumsey said that despite Preckwinkle's move, plans for Harper Court's redevelopment stalled again. In an effort to bring momentum back to the project, Preckwinkle asked HPKCC "to solicit community responses on how to move forward on Harper Court," Rumsey said. The group responded by crating the survey now on its website.

The questionnaire asks respondents to rate the importance of various aspects of the redevelopment, like the inclusion of residential space or 24-hour accessibility. "It's really quite remarkable," Rumsey said. "[In the first four days] it's been up, we've had 539 responses." According to Rumsey, the most importantly qualities identified by participants so far are well lit nighttime ambiance and a strengthening of the pedestrian character of 53rd Street.

Rumsey said he hopes that the results from the survey will allow the Hyde Park community to have some influence over what happens to Harper Court.

In an HPKCC meeting Tuesday, James Wilson, project manager of the Fourth Ward at the Department of Planning and Development, said that community input would be taken into consideration in Harper Court's redevelopment. "We will be using the most open and transparent process the city has," he said. This process involves the drafting of a list of requirements that potential developers must follow if they wish to take on the project. Wilson said that input from residents will be taken into account during the drafting of the initial version, and kept open the possibility of submitting this version to the community for a commenting period.

HPKCC also recently contracted Romero Cook Design Studio, a local design firm, to envision Harper Court's redevelopment. Aaron Cook, a planner with the studio, drew up sketches of a new Harper Court for a meeting of HPKCC last Wednesday. Cook presented a series of four- to six-story mixed-use buildings with classic European design to the group, which responded favorably.

"We look at architecture from a traditional standpoint," Cook said. "Look at Europe and its pre-World War II buildings. They have everything viable and wonderful and beautiful." While Cook and Rumsey admitted that these plans would most likely not be the final design for Harper Court, they both cited the designs as an important step in deciding what to do with the space. "There are a lot of vision statements, all this talk and nothing ever happens," Cook said. "This design could serve as a catalyst for growth."

"I don't think or expect that's what's going to be built," Rumsey said. "but it's a thought process that allows the community to work with developers, architects, and political leaders.

Cook also emphasized the role of students in his designs. Having recently been a student himself, as well as being married to a law student at the University, allows him to see the problems students have with Hyde Park, he said. "We want to bring something to Hyde Park to have students stay in Hyde Park," he said. "Students leave this area because there's no reason to stay, no substantial retail or development."

Rumsey echoed these sentiments, pointing to low student representation in the survey results. "No consensus can be reached about the future of Hyde Park without student input," he said. "They are an integral part of the community."

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Preliminary Results of the Harper Court Priorities Web Survey

Detailed online at http://www.hydepark.org/survey.

I: From the March 10 TIF meeting:

George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park Kenwood community Conference, presented the initial results of a survey about how people want to see Harper Court redeveloped. The survey is a joint effort of the TIF council and HPKCC. Rumsey said the council has been getting about 00 responses a day and that slightly more since it put a link up on the social networking Web sit Facebook.com. There were more than 1,600 responses to the survey as of March 10, he said. The survey will be available until Thursday at hydepark.org/survey.

"Passing out results of the survey now could skew it," said Irene Sherr of Community Counsel, a local planning and development consulting firm. Rumsey contended that the results compiled so far were too general to dramatically alter the final data.

Half of the responses were from people ages 19 to 39, with ages 19-29 and 30-39 each accounting for about 25 percent of the total. Seventy percent identified themselves as white. "African American results doubled in the last week," Rumsey said. Eighteen percent of respondents identified themselves as African American or Black, according to Rumsey's preliminary results.

"People are really making use of the comment box," Rumsey said. Rumsey said he has 56 single-spaced pages of comments so far to go through. A lot of people say they want more businesses in the neighborhood that are open ate 9 p.m.--and that's not just coming from the younger respondents, it's across the board, he said.

II: From the March 2008 Conference Reporter

From the HPKCC Conference Reporter, March 20008, Vol. 14, No. 1.

The Conference in Action: HPKCC and 53rd Street TIF Survey Priorities for Harper RFP
by George W. Rumsey

As a followup to the very successful December 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop, the HPKCC Development Committee held a meeting on December 19 to explore other concerns about the retail development in Hyde Park. With the idea that the long-expected Harper Court "request for proposals" (RFP) might be brought before the January TIF meeting, members of the Development Committee felt it was time again to move Harper Court to the head of the list of concerns.

As it turned out, the RFP was not ready in January, but Alderman Toni Preckwinkle Toni Preckwinkle used the opportunity to request that the HPKCC Development Committee (chaired by Gary Ossewaarde) and the Neighborhood& Business Committee of the TIF assess the community's concerns for the forthcoming RFP.

At a large planning meeting on January 23, the Two committees developed plans to conduct an online survey of community priorities for the redevelopment of Harper Court. A working group comprised of Trish Morse and Gary Ossewaarde (HPKCC) and Charles Newsome (TIF) agreed to review the large volume of documentation on Harper Court, and synthesize the results into a questionnaire framework.

The wording and order was discussed at length at a followup meeting on February 4. An overview group of Jane Comiskey, Irene Sherr, Pat Wilcoxen, and George Rumsey finalized and tested the questions, before launching the survey on February 23. To date, 1,688 respondents have taken the survey.

Survey participants were asked to rate each question on a scale of 5 (Very important( to 1 (Not Important.):

Redevelopment Goals for Harper Court:
1. Help create a gateway to 53rd Street business district
2. Relate to neighboring buildings through orientation and scale
3. Create a "destination" with appeal to diverse interests
4. Promote environmentally friendly principles (e.g., rooftop gardens, green technology, trees)

Development Components:
5 Retail (apparel)
6. Retail - other (for example, home furnishings, gifts, galleries, craft shops)
7. Restaurants (for example, sidewalk cafes, bakery, ethnic restaurants)
8. Hotel
9. Movie theatre
10 Performance space (for example, a resident theater group, music)
11. Bars and clubs
12. Public space for community events like Farmer's Markets
13. Office space for small businesses and professional services
14. Residential: condo or rental
15. Affordable and/or senior housing
16. Recreation (for example, health clubs, swimming pools, family activities)

Urban Design:
17. Make the landscaping welcoming, with trees, seating, flowers
18. Strengthen the pedestrian character of 53rd Street
19. Provide well-lit ambiance at night

Access, Circulation, and parking:
20. Multilevel parking garage to serve Harper Court and the Hyde Park business district
21. Accessible day and night, with improved transit and handicapped access
22. Planned and separated access for service vehicles and delivery

Public Comment on Proposed Development:
23. City should share evaluation criteria with community for review and comment
24. Selected developer finalists should present possible plans for community input and reaction

The Harper Court Original Mission:
25. The Harper Court Arts Council should use the proceeds from the sale of Harper Court to support the creation of affordable space for startup businesses, artisans, cooperative art galleries, etc.
26. Current tenants in Harper Court should be helped to stay in business.

Several document were used to create the survey:

1. "Guiding Principles to be Incorporated into RFP," July 10, 2006, Harper Court Arts Council.
2. "Harper Court Forum: Ideas and Principles," April 25, 2006, HPKCC Community Meeting.
3. PowerPoint presentation of the development of the 53rd and Harper University property, January 9, 2006, University of Chicago and SECC.
4. "A Vision for the Hyde Park Retail District, March 2000," Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill.
5. "Design Guidelines for Commercial, Industrial, and Mixed-Use Buildings," City of Chicago.
6. www.vision53.org (polling results of the 53rd Street Vision Workshop, December, 2007).

A mid-point report was presented to the March 10 TIF meeting, with a full report to be provided in the net HPKCC Reporter, online at hydepark.org, and at a future TIF meeting.

End from Conference Reporter. Top


From preliminary results. Supplied by George Rumsey. Detailed in http://www.hydeparkorg/survey.

Question Very+Important comb. Somewhat Important Less+Not Imp comb.
Redevelopment Goals      
Gateway to 53rd 66 21 13
Relate to Neighborhood 59 23 18
Destination, appeal to diversity 87 9 4
Environment friendly 73 16 11
Development Components      
Apparel 57 25 18
Other retail 64 22 14
Restaurants 89 8 3
Hotel 26 19 55
Movie theatre 66 16 18
Performance space 49 24 27
Bars/clubs 41 24 35
Public space , i.e. Farmer's Mkt 79 12 9
Office space 37 28 35
Residential 18 19 64
Affordable housing 23 22 55
Recreation 33 23 44
Urban Design      
Welcoming landscape 88 9 3
Stronger pedestrian character 88 8 4
Well-lit night-time ambiance 93 5 2
Access & Parking      
Multilevel parking 59 20 22
Day and night access 73 17 5
Separate service access 65 23 13
Public Comment      
Community review 84 9 8
Public developers' presentations 84 9 7
Original Mission      
Keep original mission in some form 61 20 20
Help current tenants 66 17 17

Race of Respondents: 67 White, 19 Black, Multi 6, remainder 0-3% each

Age of Respondents: under 18 2%, 19-29 25%, 30-39 23%, 40-49 15%, 50-59 17%, 60-69 13%, 70+ 5%. 0-39 49%.

Priorities ranked in order of marked importance: (will be put into table form)

1 Well-lit night-time ambiance
2 Restaurants
3 Stronger pedestrian character
4 Welcoming landscaping
5 Destination, appeal to diversity
6 Public presentations by developers
7 Community review and feedback
8 Public space, i.e., Farmer’s Market
9 Day and night access
10 Environmentally friendly
11 Help current tenants
12 Gateway to 53rd
13 Movie theatre
14 Separate service access
15 Other retail
16 Keep original mission in some form
17 Relate to neighborhood
18 Multilevel paring
19 Apparel
20 Performance space
21 Bars/clubs
22 Office space
23 Recreation
24 Hotel
25 Affordable Housing
26 Residential

75 percent Very and Important ends with 9 Day and night access
50 percent ends with 19 Apparel
25 percent ends with Hotel, leaving Affordable H and Residential below 25% important.
#20 Performance 1st in which very/important in minority
#23 Recreation 1st in which somewhat or less/not outpolls very/important

1 93-5-3
2 89-8-3
3 88-8-4
4 88-9-3
5 87-9-4
6 84-9-5
7 84-9-8
8 79-12-9
9 78-17-5
10 73-16-11
11 66-17-17
12 77-21-13
13 66-16-18
14 65-23-13
15 64-22-14
16 61 20-20
17 59-23-18
18 59-20-22
19 57-25-18
20 49-24-27
21 41-24-35
22 37-28-35
23 33-23-44
24 26-19-55
25 23-22-55
26 18-19-64

Additional conditions:
Income
about half over 75,00 with progressively fewer as income goes down.
Gender 63% female, 36% male

Length of residence – 2-5 and over 20 largest groups rest with other categories about half these two.
Zip code 37 half of 15 with very few from others.

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Survey results aired at HP-KCC meeting [and comments on Aaron Cook's renderings of ideas for HCt]

Hyde Park Herald, April 16, 2008. By Kate Hawley

The nearly 1700 people who took a survey about how to redevelop the Harper Court shopping center rated "well-lit night-time ambience" their top priority, according to George Rumsey, president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Rumsey presented preliminary results of the survey last Wednesday before a working group established by the conference, in a meeting at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave.

The group has spent the last several months discussing what kind of building should replace the low-slung structures that currently comprise Harper Court, located on South Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets. The city is slated to seek proposals from developers interested in rebuilding the shopping center in the coming months.

In light of these impending changes and array of community groups created a survey aimed at gauging what the community might like to see as a rethought, revitalized, redeveloped Harper Court. Rumsey spent weeks urging residents and local organizations to fill out the survey, which was available online at hydepark.org/survey. The survey closed after a month on March 24, and now the Web site gives a rundown of the results.

Participants were asked to rate the importance of 26 features under consideration for the redevelopment, from restaurants to affordable housing to parking. "Well-lit night-time ambience" wa the top item, rated "very important" by 93 percent of respondents.

Restaurants, "stronger pedestrian character" and "welcoming landscaping" also rated high, garnering the "very important" rating from 88 percent or more of respondents.

Overall, 19 of the 26 items on the list were rated "very important" by more than half of respondents."

Critics of the survey claim that it didn't require participants to vote for one option at the expense of another, renderings the preferences meaningless, Rumsey said. He shrugged off that criticism, saying, "It's not a scientific survey. It's just a sense of what people are interested in."

For the roughly two-dozen people who attended the meeting, the survey's results colored the ensuing discussion, in which local planner Aaron Cook presented his vision for Harper Court.

It was the third time Cook has given a visual presentation of his designs, which call for a dense arrangement of four- to six-story masonry building around an open courtyard. The mixed-use structures reflect traditional Chicago architecture.

Affordable housing and residential--two major elements of Cook's plan--scored lowest among survey respondents, said Dan Friedrich, who runs an information technology consulting business in Hyde Park. "It's just a perception that I think is unfortunate," Cook said. "We need residential."

Someone else pointed out that the people who took the survey were likely thinking about what features of Harper Court would benefit them most, so it's not surprising t hat new shops and restaurants superseded apartments.

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Here and with the preceding we transition into discussion of urban planner Aaron Cook's design workshops. View at http://www.romerocook.com.

HP-KCC moving on Harper Court planning: Organizing forum, "hands-on" design workshops (Herald Jan. 30: Sam Cholke)

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) decided Jan. 23 to draft suggestions for any request for proposal (RFP) involving the redevelopment of Harper Court, 5211 S. Harper Ave., as well as sketching out some ideas of what a redeveloped harper Court might look like.

"An RFP is simply suggestions [for development]. You're not committed to anything," said George Rumsey, president of HP-K CC. "Our role is to come up with things we feel need to be in an RFP that can be reasonably met."

Rumsey said suggestions submitted to the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council need to establish minimums for an RFP, not minimums.

"Harper Court can't satisfy everything we desire," said Pat Wilcoxen, HP-K CC member and program director for Interfaith Open Communities.

The conference decided to distill the current guidelines for Harper Court drafted by various community groups over recent years into a single working document for the conference to start from. The HP-K CC RFP suggestions will be largely based on the Harper Court Arts Council's "Guiding Principles to be Incorporated into RFP" draft from July 10, 2006, and the data compiled from the Dec. 8 53rd street Vision Workshop. [Ed.- The latter said very little on Harper Court-- the committee is using the suggestions from the HPKCC 2006 Harper Court Workshops, similar to what was said about 53rd Dec. 8. --but final decision will be made by the large steering committee Feb. 4. Gary Ossewaarde.]

"No one has to pay attention to anything we say," Rumsey said. "We want to have viable advice." Suggestions for guiding an RFP are general and don't try to pin a development down to a specific number of stories or tenants, Rumsey said.

"Development should be of a size and configuration that complements the Hyde Park business streetscape, and is pedestrian friendly," reads the Arts Council's 2006 draft guidelines.

Rumsey said the HP-K CC guidelines for a Harper Court RFP should be close to finalized at the next meeting, Feb. 26, so they can be submitted to the TIF advisory council at their March 10 meeting.

Jack Spicer, a member of the Hyde Park Historical Society, and Aaron Cook, a planner with Romero Cook Design Studio, will be working with interested community members to draft an architectural rendering of what Harper Court could look like. "Visualization is good," Rumsey said. "Visuals often help you think about it." Cook will be working pro bono on the renderings. "We're trying to take all of these thoughts and put them into drawings," Cook said.

Cook and Spicer will meet for the first time with community members interested in the project at 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave. Spicer said it will be a working meeting and not a lecture.

The conference will continue soliciting community input on Harper court through an online survey and other methods yet to be determined. Top


Report on first community design meeting of the design subgroup, Jan 30, 2008. Views at http://www. romerocook.com.

[Mr. Cook wants it made clear that he is not an architect but an urban planner and partner in Romero Cook.]

Hyde Park Herald, February 6, 2008. By Sam Cholke

Planner Aaron Cook presented his ideas last week for how a redeveloped Harper Court could begin to satisfy resident's desires for increased retail space that didn't sacrifice the public quadrangle. "I've never seen it as active as I think it can be," Cook said. "Part of that is the original urban planning."

Cook's preliminary sketches drew on ideas from the Dec. 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop and were commissioned by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Cook said he began by thinking of all the places in the world that he really loved.

In the draft presented wednesday night at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., to the 17 Hyde Parkers who attended the open meeting, Cook imagines South Harper Avenue reopened as a through street. Cook, a planner at Romero Cook Design Studio, used the exercise to remedy design issues that plague the current structure, he said. "The original architect had his vision -- I don't think it was that great," Cook said.

The plan presented brings the courtyard back up to grade, largely eliminating the rainwater drain-off problems that now afflict the center, Cook said. Cook ran down a list of features he tried to include -- a bell tower to break up the courtyard and draw the eye, an angled facade on one side of the courtyard and a cobblestone or brick surface on Harper Avenue and the courtyard.

Cook's plan also calls for new mixed-use buildings with retail on the ground floor. Their height, between four and six stories, would mirror that of nearby structures, which include Harper Theater and apartment buildings. Cook is working on sketches of building elevations to present in two weeks when the working group meet again.

Cook then opened the floor to residents with ideas of how to improve the initial plans. James Withrow, resident and Hyde Park Co-Op board member, expressed concern that regardless of the design of the complex, no one would go without a reason to be there. "You're right, it has to be a destination place," Cook said.

Withrow said he worried that the closest entry point to Harper Court, Est 52nd Street, did not attract enough traffic to draw people to Harper Court. One solution the group came to was to move the farmers market to the courtyard, which would transition to a dining area for restaurants in the evening.

Withrow, on his webblog, Hyde Park Urbanist, also broached the idea that Hyde Park only has four months a year when it is at peak population and the weather is accommodating to outside activities. Withrow suggested that the group should consider making more of Harper Court sheltered from the elements. The group began to address Withrow's concern at the meeting by discussing an arcade-- a covered walkway with stores on either side--which would link Harper Court with whatever development went up at the parking lot between Harper Court and Lake Park Avenue.

Veterinarian Tom Wake of the Hyde Park Animal Clinic, 5210 S. Harper Ave., told the group that though their wok was impressive and admirable, it could easily be overlooked unless the community was made aware of the plans. "I have spun my wheels on this several times before in the last 30 years," wake said. "And unless someone's listening to you, you're just spinning your wheels."

All at the meeting appeared to be generally impressed with Cook's concepts for what Harper Court could look like. T he group will meet again at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., to review building elevations.

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The new Harper Court? Preliminary design includes mixed use, high density, six-story anchor. Hyde Park Herald Feb. 20 2008. By Kate Hawley.

Graphic: A rendering of the south elevation of a proposed six-story anchor for Harper Court, designed by planer Aaron Cook. The white spaces to the left and right represent existing buildings.

The low-slung, angular structures that comprise Harper Court mall would be replaced with a cluster of four- to six-story masonry buildings that mirror Chicago's traditional architecture -- if one group's vision becomes a reality.

About 20 people gathered on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave, to view designs created by Aaron Cook, a planner with Romero Cook Design Studio. The meeting was sponsored by a working group of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's Development Committee, one of several local groups looking at ways to rethink Harper Court, located on ?South Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets.

The mall, built in 1965 as a non-profit to support local artisans, is slated for redevelopment. Cook's plans are purely hypothetical at this stage, a way to get the community talking about what kind of development might best serve Harper Court, said Jack Spicer, a member of the working group.

A developer has yet to be chosen for Harper Court. The mall's owner, the Harper Court Arts Council, will along with the city seek proposals from developers, according to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). That process was set to begin in late March, but has since been pushed back to an undetermined time, Preckwinkle said.

A community forum on how the proposal process works will be held Feb. 26 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. That meeting is sponsored by the Neighborhood and Business Environment Committee of the 53rd Street TIF Council and the development Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

In the meantime, the working group that met Feb. 13 is hoping to drum up support for its vision of Harper Court. Cook's plans call for keeping open courtyard space but bringing it up to grade (the existing courtyard is sunken).

Five new mixed-use buildings would have retail on the ground floor and residences , office space, civic space (for community meetings and related uses) and possibly artist workspaces above, Cook said.

Four of the buildings would be between four and five stories, and one of them would be six stories, heights Cook said are intended to match the existing rooflines on 53rd Street.

The look is meant to mirror Hyde Park's stock of brick buildings, with concrete and limestone accents, Cook said. He pointed out that several of the facades he designed were variegated to make them look like a row of smaller buildings.

In the coming weeks, the working group will aim to "shop around" Cook's designs, making them widely available to the community, Spicer said. Cook has posted them online at his firm's website, romerocook.com.

Cook's designs met with little resistance from the working group . Many who attended t he meeting spoke approvingly of their "European" feel, with shops surrounding an open courtyard . Others lauded their density. "You've shown Harper Court fully loaded," said Fabio Grego, an architect with Fabio Grego and Associates. Cook acknowledged that for his plans to succeed, the surrounding areas would also need to get denser and busier. "If we built this tomorrow, it probably wouldn't be successful." he said. "This can't stand on its own. It needs density."

March 5 2008 the physical visioning group met again to view renderings and 3-D video of the look and workings on one possible design for Harper Court. There was general receptiveness but many questions and some reservations. Next is a community show and comment for this and other envisioning's, April 9, 7 pm at the Neighborhood Club. HPKCC has acted as fiscal agent, and sizeable donations have been made to cover costs.

Top

Here's Jay Mulberry's note on the March 5 physical visioning of one possible look for Harper Court.

[Note that people are looking at broad concepts, and using particular architecture styles et al as fillers. GO]

Last night people interested in Harper Court met for the third or fourth
time to discuss plans that are being mutually developed by the community and
with the generously donated help of Aaron Cook of the Romero Cook Design
Studio <http://romerocook.com>. The project is being pursued under the
auspices of the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Council and is meant to give
some meat to the RFQ process now in progress to rebuild Harper Court.

I have found these meetings *extremely* interesting and can hardly do
justice to the lively conversations that take place in them. The concepts
are quickly evolving into a plan that I think can greatly enhance the
community.

Rather than try to do them justice, and perhaps get fried by people who have
a different take on the matter, I will recommend that you work page by page
through the drawings that start at http://www.romerocook.com/hc.html.
Fascinating!

If you want get right to the meant, jump to an animated overview of what has
evolved in the project so far at http://www.romerocook.com/hc93.html

Please note that there will be a meeting for the community on Wednesday,
April 9, at the Neighborhood Club to show and discuss the latest and nearly
complete version of the plan.

Put it on your calendar NOW. It is not something you would want to miss. Top

Harper Court designs get second viewing

Hyde Park Herald, March 12, 2008. by Kate Hawley

Conceptual designs for the Harper Court shopping center got another airing last Wednesday, when local planner presented three-dimensional renderings and animations to a group of about 15 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave.

Aaron Cook, a planner with the Romero Cook Design Studio, 5501 Everett Ave., said his designs were inspired by the architecture of Hyde Park and small plazas in Rome, where he lived briefly. The dense cluster of four-to six-story building would surround an open courtyard.

It's a radical departure from Harper Court's existing low, sprawling structures, located along Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets. The city is soon to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to find a developer to overhaul the shopping center.

Cook's designs are hypothetical at this stage, a way to spark conversation about what kind of development might best serve the community, according to Jack Spicer, who led Wednesday's group of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conferences Development Committee. The working group is one of several local entities seeking community input about Harper Court. A new survey, spearheaded by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference in conjunction with an array of community groups, is online at hydepark.org/survey.

Discussions are also underway about how to redevelop the 53rd Street commercial corridor, of which Harper Co ut is apart. More than 150 people attended the 53rd Street Vision Workshop on Dec. 8, sponsored by a coalition of neighborhood groups and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th).

In the last few weeks, some in the community have expressed concern that Cook's designs, which have been shown at several meetings, will pre-empt other ideas or unduly influence the development process. Spicer aimed to assuage those concerns by saying that he hopes the working group will showcase a series of designs. "The more voices in the conversation, the more pictures--I think it will make the final project much, much better," he said.

The group assemble wednesday as largely approving of Cook's vision, and his video animations got applause. However, questions arose about how safe the narrow passageways from the parking garage tot eh courtyard would be.

Another person in the group asked if Cook would consider an airier, more contemporary design for the buildings. Cook said that while there are many valid ways to conceive of the project, he strongly prefers traditional architecture that works within the existing architectural context. "The buildings around here are very simple, and they're very nice in their simplicity," he said."I tried to emulate that."

Cook, who has done the designs free of charge, said he has been contacted by developers interested in submitting to the city's RFP. His design calls for five new buildings, including a six-story structure that would mirror Chicago's stock of older loft buildings. Another red brick building would be reserved for civic uses. All of the buildings would have ground-floor retail with residential units above.

On April 9 the working group plans to meet again to show Cook's designs to a larger audience.

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Rob Borja gives thoughtful comments on physical visioning, future for Harper Court; calls for more ideas. See also next. Borja is, inter alia, a leader of Artisans 21 store in Harper Court

Herald, March 26, 2008. Harper Court redevelopment an opportunity

Harper Court has been one of the stalled pieces of community development. It appears t hat t here is some movement afoot. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its leadership is to be thanked. In a recent issue of the Hyde Park Herald, some drawings of a proposal were reproduced. Their character results from an effort to emulate its surroundings; in an effort to achieve homogeneity. Free of any original characteristics, such an approach to this opportunity must be considered free of controversy: safe, retro but faux-period.

This is only one approach to the opportunity. In contrast, the University of Chicago has made a number of architectural additions in recent decades. All of them are recognizable contributions while also expressing their functions. They have character. National recognition has followed the new home of the Hyde Park Art Center. Other notable additions to the city landscape, such as Millennium Park, e. al., not only provided a new experience, but each have high retention qualities. They have expression; personality; identity. They have become interesting destinations. They are not simply novel. They are lasting enrichments.

Back in 1933-34, during a trying depression, Chicago produced a Century of Progress fair. it showed the world that the future was our focus. For the fair, George Frederick Keck designed the House of Tomorrow in 1933 and Crystal House in 1934. Their successes influenced many.

What has been of worth in Harper Court may be valuable to retain. The original intent of the John Black design was to provide a new home for the artisans displaced by redevelopment of the "art colony" at 57th Street and Lake Park Avenue. He made the studio-showrooms of harper Court identifiable.

Currently, Harper Court draws people to animal care, restaurants, clothing and arts and crafts. it is to hoped that whatever evolves as a final design is reflective of its function. This is a chance to make a significant, lasting physical addition to the community and the city.

Aaron Cook is to be thanked for getting this project visually off dead center. His suggestion of an open courtyard carries forward in a differently idiom the center John Black had provided. Both suggest Harper Court to be an inviting gathering place to meet, shop and eat. The Farmer's Market deserves as much, as do the current and prospective tenants.

There is ultimately no need to do something that is so like its surroundings that is becomes invisible by echoing the adjoining buildings. If it is worth doing it deserves to be visible.

Hyde Park has little in the way of active gathering places. The new Harper Court has another chance to fulfill its promise. Mr. Cook mentions Italian inspiration. The Galleria of Milan immediately comes to mind as a successful retail/gathering place. Should some form of glazed covering be part of the court?

Instead of the present sunk common area, there could be a raised area to give Harper Court visual prominence and facilitate performances and the open market as well. Diagonals. Setbacks as terracing of the structures, pitched roofs, color, green concerns, density: there are many prospects we can and should consider. Let us have a good community discussion to make a positive contribution to Hyde Park.

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Among different visions for the development are flipping the courtyard to an open space at 53rd and Lake Park and completely new kinds of development along Lake Park between 53rd and 53rd and west to Harper or further. Another with some popularity is replacing the open courtyard with a large atrium indoor shopping center with residential, even using facade of the Esquire Theater north of 52nd. Here are views of Joseph Kelly from the April 16 2008 Herald:

... [Re] Mecca Flats [at 31st and State?] What I was looking for was an example of a two-block-long indoor atrium with both residential and commercial uses. In my plan, the shopping mal would save many of the current apartment buildings, especially on the 5100 block of Harper. New building would be built on the site of the original Harper Court. Hopefully, the artists' lofts wouldn't be as dense as the Mecca Flats. The atrium would bring in natural light and protect the shopping center from the winter cold and bad weather. [Historic artifacts could be incorporated.]

 

_______________________

Is the rush to consensus on priorities for new development pushing out options for continuing original purpose, original structures and needs of current tenants?

Bob Borja for Artisans 21, Herald, February 20, 2008: Artisans 21 holds to Harper Court Mission

Here are some of the things people write about Artisans 21: "I love this place!!!" "Wonderful works. Brightened my day." "A community asset!" "I always appreciate coming into your store and really being able to admire the art. Please keep doing what you do."

While not a statistical survey, this indicates to us that we do represent and satisfy the "original intent of supporting artisans and small businesses," in the words of George Rumsey.

We note the enthusiasm of these remarks. It suggests that those who sustain we artisans should have better attended the recent HP-KCC meeting on the subject of Harper Court.

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__________________

Jack Spicer to the HPKCC Development Committee December 2007 on Harper Court:

Harper Court was created in 1965 to give shelter to some of the may small businesses that were threatened by Urban Renewal. Small businesses, especially artisans and arts related ones, need the low rents in marginal buildings to get started and to survive. The marginal buildings were the targets of the clearance efforts and hundreds and hundreds of small businesses were lost, the very businesses that helped give Hyde Park its particular character. The idea of Harper Court was to moderate the negative effects of Urban Renewal by providing subsidized rentals for small retailers. The Court was successful in its mission for many years and became a beloved public space for the entire community as well. Even though I am a preservationist I doubt that preserving the original buildings is as important as preserving and renewing the original mission of Harper Court. If the Harper Court Foundation, on behalf of the community, were to retain and redevelop its property, it could again play a crucial role in supporting and growing the kind of small businesses that are often squeezed out by or unattractive to conventional development. A new Harper Court could include a transit-convenient tall mixed-use building generating income from condos or rental apartments that would support its retail mission. It could include a permanent plaza for the farmers market, the restored chess benches and other community events. It could be the home of a community theater, a small cooking school, a sausage and wine bar, a film club on an on. But the alderman has other plans. The Foundation (and the related Arts Council) is being pressured to sell out at a reduced price so the property can be lumped together with the city-owned surface parking lots to the east and turned into a meg-development. Gone would be not only the buildings but the community-building mission of Harper Court and in return for nothing very special. This is a very valuable community asset that should not be stolen or squandered. It would not be surprising to find that L3 is the chosen developer here too. Top

(Note- some of the reactions sections deal with concerns and claims about viability and vitalization of Harper Court and the entire business district--such as that it's not a destination, business is lackadaisical and the community hostile to change, etc. although parts like future Kleiner restaurant could be. These papers, letters, discussions are in the Business Climate page. See also Development, Neighborhood Goals/Vision.)

"They say 'Urban Renewal is Over'?! If this isn't urban renewal, what is?... This development will shape Hyde Park for the rest of our lives ....There are two questions- what becomes of Harper Court, and who will manage the money and under what conditions?" George Rumsey, President, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

"I don't think they answered any questions. They agreed to an open RFP process, but their idea of an open RFP process is to turn it over to the alderman. A small, self-appointed board of six or seven people is entirely inappropriate to handle a transaction that will change the face of Hyde Park for the rest of our lives. They need more people--people with background in the arts, people who know how to manage real estate. They've repeatedly said they had trouble managing Harper Court, so why do they think we'll trust them to sell real estate?"
George Rumsey, President, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

A Harper Court HPKCC timeline

Two years or more of retreats supposedly precedes decision to sell; HCt Foundation consults stakeholders who keep the matter confidential. However, Harper Court minutes show active negotiations to sell, including with the University started before the start of 2003 and were quite intense.
January 2003- board votes to sell, forms strategic committee. Appraisal says $4-$5 m.
March 2003- University interested, board notes need to keep under wraps, issue disinformation if necessary. I April 2 members set to meet with Hank Webber, Jo Reizner
By December 2003 the board feels UC stalling, opens to all offers, considg. sealed bids.
June 2005 all negotiations with University at an end
November? 2005: Foundation's lawyer brings a buyer to Harper Court
December. Harper Court Foundation turns over assets (shopping center) to Harper Court Arts Council (HPAC) and a buyer is announced
Feb 2 2006: Neighbors to Save HC spoke to HPKCC board
Feb 9: George Rumsey, George Davis, Carol Bradford, Charles Custer meet with Asst. Atty. Gen. Therese Harris
Feb 10: Letter to Harper Court requesting meeting with them at their convenience
Feb 17: Word given that the Arts Council will speak at the March 13 TIF meeting
Feb 21: HPKCC Exec. Committee drafts a public response and questions to HCAC
Feb 27: HPKCC letter forwarded to Atty Gen's office with comments, Herald articles
Mar 1: HPKCC letter in Herald, community meetings planned
Mar 13: TIF meeting presentation by HCAC, RFP process formally announced, input requested
Mar 28: At HPKCC planning meeting, Alderman Preckwinkle announces inclusion of the city parking lot and switch to a city RFP process.
Apr 5: HCAC has press release in Herald.
April: 3 tenants (Nancy Stanek of Toys Et Cetera, Dr. Wake of he HP Animal clinic, Paul Andresen of Dixie Kitchen, Calypso) offer to buy out the center, HCAC refuses.
Apr 11: HPKCC community forum on future of Harper Court
Apr 25: HPKCC working groups meeting on principles and guidelines for RFP
May 8: TIF meeting to hear reports from HCAC, HPKCC
June 8: HPKCC asks HCAC to meet with HPKCC committee; at end of June HPAC says after TIF mtg., then mtg. with Dept. of Planning. Never happens.
Hans Morsbach proposes a tenant-based new board.
Community members (Des Jardins) get Harper Court minutes previous 2 years from state via FOI.
July 10: HCAC presents statement of principles (incorporating community comments although weakened). Most comments are distrustful and express desire for the current Harper board to step aside and Harper Court to be largely left alone and the RFP stopped. Former Harper Court Foundation board minutes (clearly not expected by HCAC to be obtained) were source of accusations over past secret sale efforts. HCAC says ay they will meet with HPKCC after meeting with the city. August 3 they say they will be in touch to schedule a meeting. Later they can’t meet to decide to meet until after Labor Day.
Late July: series of Herald reports document 3 years of Harper Court negotiations to sell the center.
August 3 HPKCC board reiterates primacy of keeping to the original mission, real public process, need for ways for current tenants to stay in business during and after any development, and inadequacy of the HCAC board to run a sale or manage realized assets.
August sees more strong editorials, letters.
By mid Sept. HCAC and city hadn’t met. Ald. Preckwinkle, citing HPAC mismanagement, announces the city will handle the RFP and sale (it's starting as of September 2006 with new appraisal and the process is expected to be slow but certain); the Arts Council will only realize its share of profit rom the sale.
Sept.-Oct. Rep. Currie backs original purpose and considering residents' needs.

December: There is no update; appraisal still is not done. (Guess- we will hear nothing before the February election. And indeed in January we learned the city found the appraisal it received unacceptable. Next step uncertain.)
January 2007- Nancy Stanek's Toys Et Cetera, tenant, moved out, she and the veterinarian saying that teardown is likely. Later Dr. Wax gets in lease trouble, told to leave
Fall 2007- RFP process starts to move again; HPKCC Development Committee plans meeting, survey with TIF committees; physical visioning comm'd by HPKCC
. December 8 53rd Street Vision Workshop with Dept. Plg., CMAP attracts over 150 residents.
February 2008. Visioning sessions begin with planner Aaron Cook; Survey held Feb. 20-Mar. 20; Feb. 26 public forum on Harper Court future.
Reports on Survey being prepared; call for ideas in advance of an RFQ/RFP process to start c May 12 TIF meeting

Early 2008 Timeline on Community Priorities for Harper Court and the Adjacent City Parking Lot.

by George Rumsey, HPKCC President

9-Dec 53rd Street Vision Workshop
19-Dec HPKCC Development Committee Meets- follow-up meeting to 53rd Street Vision Workshop
10-Jan HPKC Development Committee
14-Jan TIF Council Meeting. Alderman Preckwinkle requests HPKC work with TIF on community input.
23-Jan TIF Neighborhood & Business committee/HPKCC Development. Large community group with representatives from TIF, HPKCC, OWL, SECC, Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for Equitable Community Development, and Harper Court Arts Council agrees to conduct an online survey; Trish Morse (HPKCC), Charles Newsome ((TIF), Gary Ossewaarde (HPKCC) to draft summary
4-Feb TIF/HPKCC Meeting on Survey. Survey content roughly finalized; Irene Sherr, George Rumsey, Jane Comiskey, and Pat Wilcoxen finalize content and test survey questions
23-Feb Survey launched. Publicity on-going
26-Feb HPKCC/TIF forum on RFPs
3-Mar [set date for] TIF/HPKCC Development Progress Meeting (7 pm Neighborhood Club).

April 2008- University of Chicago buys Harper Court, speaks in general terms at May TIF meeting of general intent to continue RFQ/P process.
May TIF - Opened for comment on RFP principles; many submitted.
May- Vision 53 exercise part II looks up close at 53rd St, harper, 51st.
May 27 TIF Planning and Dev. subcommittee meets publicly and substantially revises principle document
Summer-fall- city and owner evaluation of comments, work on the RFP document, held back until after November 15 Vision 53 block exercise
November 18 Community Development Commission approves RFP, which is released December 8. December 17 pre-bid meeting. The timeline is found in the RFP Document (visit Harpercourtsalerfp page); deadline for initial submittal is May 2009.

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