As the countdown to construction begins at the congested Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection, national retailers are eyeing the roughly eight acre property that is currently occupied by Vienna Beef. Commercial real estate developer and broker Mid-America has proposed placing a number of new buildings on the site that would house large retailers, but at this time, the fast food chain Chick-fil-A is the only organization that has committed to opening up shop at the intersection.
The area's longtime anchors have either moved on or are currently on the way out. Whirlyball recently relocated to its new facility on Webster Avenue while Vienna Beef is currently planning its move to 1000 W Pershing in Bridgeport. While not etched in stone, Mid-America's plan makes room for several new retailers, with one particular parcel allowing for 68,000 square feet of retail and over 200 surface parking spaces. Mid-America reps were unable to disclose specifics, but they did indicate that there is interest in the large commercial space on the north end of the site.
While the plan draws out a large number of surface parking spaces, only a handful of area residents were at the meeting last night. The area that surrounds the Vienna Beef factory is largely comprised of big box retailers and it's likely that large national chains will eventually sign up for the new spaces available at the site. In total, the proposal as it currently stands, would the bring 105,000 square feet of retail and 437 parking spaces to the rerouted intersection.
No specifics were revealed about traffic studies or construction. Alderman Waguespack did reveal that his office has been working with the Friends of the Chicago River organization to find ways of activating the riverfront. There's been some talk about having a water taxi near the site, but the alderman added that these talks have been "more conceptual than anything." These topics and more will be discussed at a meeting on May 27th. The time and location for that meeting are still to be determined.