Oh, no | Bleader

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oh, no

Posted By on 05.14.08 at 01:41 PM

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"The University of Chicago has bought Harper Court shopping center at 5211 S. Harper for $6.5 million and intends to find a developer to tear it down and rebuild the property as a destination retail corridor."

On one hand, Harper Court is dumpy-looking and the buildings are poorly organized. On the other, it houses some of the best stuff in Hyde Park: Barack Obama's favorite restaurant (IIRC), the fine, modestly-priced Calypso; the beloved (if perhaps overrated) Dixie Kitchen; Maravillas, the best cheap food in the neighborhood; and Dr. Wax, with its estimable collection of hip-hop and R&B vinyl. There's also a new high-end streetwear place that I haven't had the chance to check out yet.

Plus Toni Preckwinkle's last attempt at sprucing up the corner of 53rd and Lake Park was a disaster, in that she introduced a Borders into a neighborhood with the two best bookstores in Chicago (the Sem Co-op and 57th St Books), not to mention one of the best libraries. The Borders is now closing.

Jerry Kleiner seems to think that the current Harper Court is a good place for fine dining, and Park 52 is a good, non-redundant addition to the neighborhood. What's needed next is a place to buy basic dry goods, since the only place to buy, like, underwear, is Walgreens, the all-purpose country market of Hyde Park, and something needs to be done with the derelict, long-vacant Meridian Theater. Blowing up Harper Court to make it a "destination," I fear, will end up like the desultory retail corridor along Halsted near UIC.

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