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Hyde Park = Bike Park

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 2, 2012 9:00PM

53rd Street is a commercial strip rapidly being transformed. And nowhere is it more obvious than at the busy intersection at Lake Park where new projects inhabit the three corners adjacent to a busy Metra Stop. The first opened this week as the 53rd Street Bicycle Center rolled in. Operated jointly by the University of Chicago and the company that runs the Millennium Park bike center, the space offers Hyde Park bike commuters and visitors access to parking, showers, and basic repair services. But when we visited the center today, it was crawling with tourists eager to rent bikes for tours of the lakefront. We’d guess that will be their main revenue stream, but Hyde Park’s bike shops (known for their…ahem…gruff customer service) are likely taking notice.

The University’s aggressive redevelopment efforts have made it a busy area. The $153 million redevelopment of Harper Court across Lake Park from the Bike Center is moving along rapidly. The project, which will include a hotel, movie theater, and new retail space, is so counter to prevailing real estate trends that it caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal, signifying the expanded role of institutes of higher learning as landlords, master planners, and neighborhood sugar daddies. Across 53rd, the University scored big-time when they convinced Akira to open a new flagship store in place of a closing Border’s Books location. Demolition has begun and construction should begin later this month. The transformation of this intersection will go a long way to help the University make Hyde Park a bit friendlier to its undergrads (and everyone else in the area).