Northeast Illinois Still Looking For Developers To Pick Up Empty North Park Buildings

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NORTH PARK – Northeastern Illinois University is still looking for interested developers to bid on two university buildings, including those on a block that has been unoccupied for five years.

The university purchased the 14 storefronts on Bryn Mawr Avenue between Kimball Avenue and Bernard Street in 2016 after a two-year battle. They were to be used as student accommodation, but by the time it took for NEIU’s prominent estate case to make its way to court, registrations declined, WTTW reported in January.

The university has abandoned its plan to convert the buildings into student accommodation. He hired real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle earlier this year to perform market analysis and assess possible options for the block.

The results, released in April, recommend that buildings be turned into mixed-use multi-family units with shops on the ground floor, which is what neighbors have said they want for the area, according to a Hollywood survey. -North Park Community Association. .

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli / Block Club Chicago
Fourteen storefronts on both sides of the 3400 block of Bryn Mawr Avenue between Kimball Avenue and Bernard Avenue have been vacant for five years.

Now, the university is looking for interested developers to take over the main campus buildings and its El Centro property on North Avondale Avenue, West Henderson Street and North Kimball Avenue.

Manish Kumar, vice president of finance and administration at NEIU, said the deadline for proposals has been extended to November 1 because no one applied. The university encourages developers to apply online.

“We don’t have millions of dollars to build our own structures, and that’s why we’re looking to an outside builder,” Kumar said.

Due to the extension, the project schedule is being delayed and a supplier will likely be identified in early 2022, he said. The university plans to post updates on the online tenders to keep the community in the know.

In January, more than 100 area residents responded to a Hollywood-North Park Community Association survey on what they would like to see in properties to bring the hallway back to life. Many said they wanted to see affordable multi-family housing to keep residents in the neighborhood, as well as mixed-use development that included commercial and retail uses.

Andrew Johnson, president of the Hollywood-North Park Community Association, which has worked with the NEIU and its neighbors to ensure community feedback on the Bryn Mawr Project is heard, said the results of the investigation are always accurate.

“Considering how long NEIU acquired these properties, the neighbors had time to think about what they wanted,” Johnson said. “These interests have been fairly stable over time.”

Johnson attributes a broader engagement of elected officials, aldermen and neighbors over the past year to advancing the project and hopes he can revitalize the region as NEIU works with the community to ensure that all voices are heard.

“I still believe that the rehabilitation or redevelopment of these properties can be part of an important revitalization of Bryn Mawr around Kimball and Kedzie, which has been a historic commercial strip in our neighborhood,” he said. “It is possible and perhaps likely that this development will be a positive thing for the neighborhood. The university must also rehabilitate its relations with many residents. … It will not be done by simply redeveloping buildings.

Kumar said NEIU has held various town halls and meetings with residents about the North Park project over the past few years and will continue to engage with the community and try to be as transparent as possible, while reviewing proposals from developers that could benefit the school. .

“Everything we do is in collaboration with” neighbors, Kumar said. “The university will support what our neighbors want, but we will also be linked to how the projects unfold, to what the developers bring.”

Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th), whose neighborhood includes Bryn Mawr’s properties, helped bring together a stakeholder group including neighborhood organizations, local schools and elected officials to strengthen community engagement, share information and provide input. contribution.

“As options for NEIU properties on Bryn Mawr continue to be explored, community input has been prioritized,” Nugent said in a statement. “Regular communication between NEIU, the Hollywood-North Park community and my office is ongoing. I look forward to continuing this partnership as we all work to revitalize this corridor. “

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