Hyde Parkers Want More Retail on 53rd Street

December 7, 2007

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Hyde Park residents are debating the best way to breathe new life into the community's main retail corridor. Tomorrow's 53rd Street Vision Project meeting will gather competing stakeholders.

Walking along 53rd Street, between Woodlawn Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, there are several banks and cellular phone stores. And a few mattress outlets.

Not exactly blight, but Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce President Jim Poueymirou says there's not enough variety to reflect the diverse neighborhood.

POUEYMIROU: I don't think anybody in the community wants to have all national retailers up and down the street because then our community is in no way distinctive from any other community in America. And what we as Hyde Parkers like is having our independent identity.

But he says there's a lack of collective vision and landlords with different agendas. There are some proposals for development, including a possible restaurant where a shutdown movie theater idles.

Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle is one of the sponsors for tomorrow's summit.

PRECKWINKLE: We thought this was the time to kind of step back and help people look at the change that's coming and have an opportunity to look at some of the issues raised by that new development. Some of that change is improving a pedestrian-friendly feel.

I'm Natalie Moore, Chicago Public Radio.