Since Roosevelt Collection was completed back in 2009, a couple of big questions have been left unanswered: Why is all that retail space still empty? And What happened to 'The Green'? Today, Crain's reporter Alby Gallun has partial answers to both.
First, The Green. Early renderings of the development showed a hundreds of people frolicking and picnicking in a lush meadow in the middle of Roosevelt Collection. Those renderings are still on Roosevelt Collection's website, which describes a two-acre public park, where "earth meets sky in the heart of Chicago." Instead of going through with the park, though (after all, how do you make any money building parks?), Centrum Properties decided to build a couple of clunky brick retail buildings
where the park was supposed to be*. Those, like the rest of Roosevelt Collection's retail (except for the movie theater), have been empty since construction finished.
Now that McCaffery Interests and an LA-based investment group that includes Magic Johnson have taken over the development, the new owners are planning to tear out those brick buildings and install some green space. "In its present condition, it's not very inviting," Dan McCaffery told Crain's. "It's not very pedestrian-oriented and it doesn't strike you as a place to quote-unquote gather." Too true. Razing brand new, never-occupied buildings might sound like a strange business move, but in this case, it's probably the right one.
And what about the retail? That's still an open question. Adding public green space to the development will, as McCaffery says, go a long way towards making the development more inviting. The new owners do have a lot of retail space to fill (a little less than 300,000 square feet, according to Crain's), but South Loopers have been calling for more quality retail in the neighborhood for years.
*UPDATE: As cjlane points out, 'The Green' was never intended to be part of Phase 1 of Roosevelt Collection. It, like the high-rise, was never built, and the green space that McCaffery is talking about creating is separate.
· Roosevelt Road developer must fill 300,000-square-foot void [Crain's]
· Complete Curbed coverage of Roosevelt Collection [Curbed Chicago]