The Harper Court project topped off this week as the James McHugh Construction Co. completed the final concrete pour on the project’s 12-story office tower, anchored by the University of Chicago. The symbolic milestone comes as Harper Court Partners, LLC, a joint venture between Vermilion Development and JFJ Development Company, has recently executed nearly 10,000 square feet of additional retail leases for the project’s first floor.
"The topping off marks the culmination of many years of community workshops, planning and design,” said Jon Zitzman, Manager of Harper Court Partners, LLC. “We commend the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago for their partnership in executing the community members’ vision for Harper Court. We also thank McHugh Construction, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, CS Associates, Inc., and the construction trades for achieving this important milestone."
The project has now become a fixture of the Hyde Park skyline, set to anchor the 53rd Street corridor, which boasts a growing list of retail and restaurant amenities. Complementing LA Fitness and Chipotle Mexican Grill, the project’s new leases bring the total pre-leasing level to 86.4%.
The new tenants include Park Tavern, a Restaurants-America concept with one location in The Park at Rosemont; Ja’ Grill, a Jamaican restaurant with a location on Lincoln Park’s Armitage Avenue corridor; and Starbucks.
The two concepts are complementary. Park Tavern offers a contemporary spin on the gastropub experience, serving craft beer and authentic food in a casual, urban lodge setting. Ja’ Grill combines classy dining in a lounge atmosphere with authentic Jamaican fare through a menu inspired by Executive Chef Herbert "Errol" Gallimore, who was born and raised in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
The lease signings come shortly after Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden of Longman & Eagle announced a new restaurant, bar and concert venue, named The Promontory, which is slated to open in early 2013 in an adjacent project being undertaken by the University. With the addition of Park Tavern and Ja’ Grill, it further solidifies Hyde Park as the South Side’s newest retail and dining destination.
Park Tavern and Ja’ Grill will occupy 5,200 and 2,500 square feet, respectively. These concepts will anchor the Harper Court experience along a newly created street. The street, named ‘Harper Court,’ will provide an expanded venue for public gatherings, farmers’ markets and other community events. Starbucks will anchor the corner of Lake Park Avenue and 53rd Street with a new 1,800 square foot location.
Construction on Harper Court will be completed in the summer of 2013. The project is led by developer Harper Court Partners, LLC, which teamed with the Canyon Johnson Urban Funds (CJUF), a billion-dollar real estate fund composed of a series of joint ventures between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Guided by the community, former Ald. Toni Preckwinkle and current Ald. Will Burns, Harper Court’s redevelopment was initiated by the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago.
"This project represents the culmination of years of hard work by community stakeholders, residents, and other partners,” said 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns. “After years of waiting, Hyde Park is going to have the kind of retail options that have been long desired by communities on the South Side of Chicago. The additional retail announcements reflect that others are willing to invest in the vision that we have worked so hard to create."
In addition to the 12-story office tower that will be occupied by the University of Chicago, Harper Court’s first phase will include nearly 75,000 square feet of retail space and a Hyatt Place Hotel.
The redevelopment of Harper Court is part of a broader effort led by the University of Chicago to revitalize 53rd Street. Ja’ Grill, Park Tavern and Starbucks join a growing list of businesses expanding into Hyde Park, including the flagship store of the Akira fashion boutique; the New 400 Theaters; Chipotle Mexican Grill, The Promontory, Clarke’s and Five Guys restaurants; and Kilwins Ice Cream shop.