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Our man about town Jared Hatch does some digging to find out what's up with 1149 N. State Street. Result? The more things change, the more they, well, you know.
In 2007 the overzealous M Development had plans to redevelop a slew of well known Gold Coast icons including the Esquire Theater, The Cedar Hotel, Barneys, and the block of retail at the north east corner of Elm and State. All of these projects are in the Viagra Triangle district and within a few blocks of each other. Unfortunately, out of these properties, the Barneys building was the only project that was completed and all other projects were abandoned and and the properties became somewhat derelict. Racked did some digging for you to find out what was going on.
Our focus right now is on the block of retail in the 1149 Building on State between Elm and Division. The Gold Coast's beloved corner florist, Chicago Blooms, along with Mr Kite's Chocolate, Camelot children's clothing, a shipping supplies/drop off store, Underdog pet store, and Gold Coast Food Mart were all casualties of the mis-managed real estate blood bath of '07-'08.
All businesses we talked to were reluctant to share any information with us because of the political controversy surrounding M Development's failures and the Aldermanic involvement. To give you an idea of some of the juice we squeezed from this lemon: there were un-official ward meetings, secret meetings at Corner Bakery and a $100 million lawsuit filed by Pinnacle Development against Mark Hunt, owner of M Development.
Note: We do have to point out that the Barneys' construction turned out beautifully.
While in processes of the '07-'08 evacuation, a demolition was slated with mixed use building blueprints for a new construction on the then Alderman Burton Natarus' desk. M Development was unable to follow through with many of their projects and wasn't able to get the community to rally in favor of any of the high profile projects. By mid-2009 complaints of graffiti and concerns of safety were being thrown at the new Alderman Brendan Reilly's inbox regularly.
Regina Court Flowers and Gifts
Per conversations initiated by Alderman Brendan Reilly, there has been a strong effort to bring the rosy color back to the intersection. We have been keeping an ear to the ground for a few months now while a new tenant has been filling out the corner unit very nicely. Regina Court Flowers and Gifts, opened in about a month ago and should not to be confused with the previous tenant, Chicago Blooms that moved to Wells at Schiller in April 2007. Regina Court is an old family business that the new owners have asked to fill the space.
Earlier this week we talked with the new ownership of the 1149 Building whose offices are at 540 West Madison in the loop. The spokesperson, (who asked to remain nameless) told us "We feel that as the new owners, we should have long-term views for these properties. We don't flip—we buy and hold and want to rectify the situation here."
The residential part of the building can no longer be occupied because of a boiler room problem—and it would likely not be re-inhabited because of the cost associated with fixing it. The owners did tell us that a few other projects to fill the vacant spaces are in the works: Tom's Gold Coast Shoe Repair, nicknamed "The Grumpy Cobbler" by Yelpers and Metromixers, will move from his current location at 8 E Walton to the 1149 State Building starting next week. We went to talk to The Grumpy Cobbler at his Walton shop and he confirmed he has just signed the lease and construction and moving will start this week. The second project is an eBay drop-off storefront similar to the shipping supply store that was there before the building was vacated. The third project is an addition to the Regina Court flower store. As of now, they only sell flowers and small garden items. The addition will fill out the second half of the business name according to their business license: "Regina Court Flowers and gifts." They are expected to carry things that Gold Coast housewives would want? like candles.
Each rental space in the 1149 Building ranges from 100 sq feet to 700 sq feet and is being outfitted to the specs of the new tenants. We really have to give credit to the new owners (who still want to have their name omitted) for being so generous footing the bill for the three business' spaces. We also have to say how thankful we are they are so willing to communicate with the Alderman and make these community-based decisions. Sometimes in the heat of Chicago politics we can forget that there are ground level businesses and citizens that we need to support and help prosper so they don't disappear again.
· All Gold Coast coverage [Racked Chicago]