A Harlem Avenue building once described in the Chicago Tribune as one of the 10 ugliest buildings in the metro area will soon be demolished to make way for a strip mall.
Last week the village council unanimously voted to approve the project and replace the vacant Savant Medical Supply building located at 1215 Harlem Ave. The strip mall will be just south of the Walgreen’s at the corner of Roosevelt and Harlem streets.
“It’s a great improvement to the area and certainly will be a good project when it is all said and done,” Village Administrator Michael Sturino said.
The one change in the proposal made at the May 27 village council meeting was to increase the turning radius within the exit lane onto Harlem Avenue. This is expected to make for a more gradual turn onto the busy roadway. The change will slightly reduce the amount of green space in the development.
In earlier discussions of the project, zoning board of appeals member Richard Scafidi suggested limiting traffic both to and from the site’s parking lot to right turns only. Because of the heavy traffic on Harlem Avenue, Scafidi suggested that left turns onto the site from the northbound lanes would be difficult to manage and only add to congestion.
But in a letter presented to council members immediately prior to the council meeting, the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Deputy Director of Highways Diane O’Keefe said that “in concept a full access driveway is feasible for this location.”
IDOT, which controls Harlem Avenue, has jurisdiction over curb cuts along the street.
“IDOT has analyzed the proposed improvement to the property and certainly if anyone knows the traffic flow on Harlem IDOT knows it very, very well,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said. “Based on their analysis they have approved a full access – in and out.”
The entrance to the strip mall will be on the southern end of the property as far away from the busy junction of Harlem and Roosevelt streets as possible.
There may be access to the lot from the nearby Walgreen’s parking lot if an agreement can be reached with the pharmacy chain.
The building at 1215 S. Harlem Ave. will be a single-story 9,000 square foot brick construction and is expected to contain nine stores. Thirty-six parking spaces will be provided. A variance was approved to waive the requirement of approximately 160 parking spaces.
Exactly what type of stores will be located at the retail spot is yet to be determined, according to Bill Kokalias, the architect for the project.
“We haven’t marketed it yet because we wanted to make sure we got approval first,” Kokalias said.
Kokalias estimated it will take approximately eight months to complete the project and that the demolition of the Savant building could begin in the next three weeks.