Upscale Retail and Posh Digs Coming to Lincoln Park's New City

For six years, the ambitious shopping and luxury living development in the Clybourn Corridor was hamstrung with delays and squeezed for funds. Now the builders have received $182 million to put the high-concept space back in play.

Rendering by Bucksbaum Retail Properties Rendering of New City retail and luxury apartments complex in the Clybourn Corridor off Halsted in Lincoln Park. Within an already bustling upscale shopping district with high-income residents, the North Side location of the former YMCA is one of the most desirable in Chicago.

As developments go, the planned New City complex has always been in the sweet spot. The 8.5-acre site, former home of the YMCA, sits in Chicago's busiest retail section off Clybourn at 1515 N. Halsted. The country's largest Whole Foods Market is here, a quick walk from the Red Line and outlets of similar pedigree catering to the Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel (the only one in Chicago), Sur La Table and the Abercrombie & Fitch crowd. No set dates, but Nordstrom Rack and DSW stores are on the way, too. 

The location is "second to none," J. Michael Drew of Structured Development, a partner on the project, told Crain's. No debate there. But the proposal began to unravel under bad timing, tightening lending standards on commercial paper and foreclosure threats.

This past spring, after debt and a retracting real estate market knocked the mixed-use space into six years of limbo, the Sun-Times reported the $260 million project was resurfacing. Seven months later, Bucksbaum Retail Properties with Structured have received a $182 million construction loan – the largest to date, beating the $170 million record set in 2010 for a luxe condo development, also in Lincoln Park, according to the Crain's piece.

Bucksbaum Retail Properties' John Bucksbaum knows something about big retail spaces; he led General Growth Properties Inc. as CEO of the mall Goliath. The New City footprint includes 360,000 square feet for retail shops, a movie theater, a 1,100-space parking garage, bowling lanes, 40,000 square feet designated for medical office use and a 80,000-square-foot Mariano's Fresh Market as a cornerstone. 

Touch-and-go loan negotiations were contingent on contracting retailers for the shopping center as gun-shy banks, burned during the collapse, require developers to have more skin in the game and tenants lined up for them to take on the risk. A lease with Pa.-based Dick's Sporting Goods, a store usually found in the 'burbs, was critical to closing the loan.  

And Chicago's rising housing inventory will make room for 199 more multifamily New City apartments joining the chorus and angling for high-end Lincoln Park renters




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