Two-long awaited North Avenue developments are still on track, although the rising costs of construction materials is slowing progress.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), whose ward includes Galewood, said work on redeveloping the former Sears location at the northeast corner of North and Harlem avenues, and the former U.S. Bank site at 6700 W. North Ave., has slowed due to the rising costs of construction materials.
Work on the U.S. Bank site seems to be progressing haltingly while the developers of the Sears site are still waiting for the city to approve a series of zoning changes and to vacate an alley that used to bisect the lot.
Five Thirty One Partners LLC is planning to renovate the historic U.S. Bank by adding a third floor and building a total of 36 residential units. The developers had previously said that they would be willing to dedicate around 11,000 to 12,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the building to the new Galewood branch library.
Taliaferro and other officials involved said the library project may still happen if a lease can be secured. The alderman said the city has secured funding for the new branch, but a lease agreement is still being negotiated. The current Galewood branch library is located inside a single room at Rutherford Sayre Park Fieldhouse, 6871 W. Belden Ave.
Patrick Malloy, a Chicago Public Library spokesperson, said the city received an approximately $7 million capital construction grant for a new Galewood branch, but that CPL still needs to evaluate exactly how the funding can be spent.
Still, Malloy said, the construction grant is a game-changer, since it “presents a possibility that hasn’t existed for a while.” Once the location is firmly in place, the city will “work with the community to make sure that all makes sense and we’re responding to what the community wants.”
“We are definitely interested in finding the resolution [to the current situation] and making sure that the community has the library they deserve,” Malloy said.
Viktor Jakovljevic, who owns the former U.S. Bank property, said that, while the project has been delayed, the construction resumed in September. He said while he hopes to have the work done by the “early winter of next year,” it may not be finished until the end of 2022. He said the negotiations pertaining to the library won’t affect the construction timetable.
Novak Construction, the developer of the Sears site, didn’t respond to a request for comment by deadline.