Byline: H. LEE MURPHY
A decade ago, developers could still find parcels of 300 acres or more at prime intersections where farmers were holding onto homesteads or investors were holding out for better prices. Most of that land is long gone, but there are still a few choice undeveloped tracts. These parcels aren't likely to remain vacant much longer, because developers from homebuilders to office specialists are still hungry for blank canvases. Here are five of the most promising.
Galewood Yards 1900 N. Central Ave., Chicago
When Calvin Boender bought the former Galewood Yards on the city's West Side four years ago, he figured to turn the empty railroad crossroads into a warehouse and distribution center. "I thought it would make an excellent boutique industrial park,'' says Mr. Boender, president and CEO of North Development Ltd. in Chicago. Despite diligent marketing, not a single industrial tenant has shown interest in the 50 acres, one of the biggest vacant parcels on the city's West and North sides.
Mr. Boender's latest vision is a mixed-use development with housing and retail. Northfield homebuilder Red Seal Development Corp. wants to use most of the land for as many as 250 townhouses and single-family homes, priced from $200,000 to $400,000. And Mr. Boender thinks he can make a deal with a movie operator and supermarket chain.
Alderman Isaac Carothers (29th) is enthusiastic about the plans. "We need more middle-class housing here to interest (people working in the city and) commuting from the suburbs to live here,'' Mr. Carothers says. "And we don't have a grocery or a movie theater in my entire ward.''
But the Daley administration is holding out for industrial development at Galewood Yards, aiming to designate it a planned manufacturing district. That hasn't happened yet, and Mr. Boender is running out of patience. "We've been promoting this land for industrial for three years, and there has been practically zero interest,'' he says.
The location is a problem: Galewood Yards is some 30 blocks from the Kennedy Expressway. "Even if you can find a warehouse or distribution company, they don't want to be that far from an expressway,'' Ald. Carothers says. "This land needs a zoning change to something more realistic.''
Did the Alderman Forget the Eisenhower Expressway? And if the city did more to let traffic flow as opposed to allowing individual aldermen to place stop signs on major
streets, then traffic could easily get where it needs to go.
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