NEWS

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May 6, 2011

Clarke's, Whole Foods come to Harper Court

Whether it’s French fries or an organic French brie, a new crop of food options will be popping up in Hyde Park within the next three years.

Clarke’s, a 24-hour diner chain, will open a new location at 1451 East 53rd Street in 2013. A Whole Foods supermarket, Five Guys burger joint, New 400 movie theater, Hyatt hotel, and several retail stores will also open nearby by 2014.

The introduction of these new businesses is part of a project to increase vitality along 53rd Street and the area around Harper Court. The project will have 80,000 square feet of retail space, according to a May 2 press release from the University.

Clarke’s already has locations in Evanston and the Belmont neighborhood. The closer location of an already well-known restaurant has some students excited.

Fourth-year Joel Saeedi said that he has heard friends express a desire for a late-night dining location. He said that the only 24-hour diner he frequents is Clarke’s on Belmont–but the location is a deterrent. He said it’s “a two-hour excursion just to get some food after everything else closes in Hyde Park. I think this is great news.”

Yet some students are skeptical that the expected location will serve students in the housing system.

Second-year Andrew Villadsen said the current late-night offerings are enough for those students in residence halls. “At three in the morning, are you going to walk six blocks for better food or are you going to go 50 feet out of your door and just get something [at Bart Mart]?”

But Bart Mart and the Midway Market close at 3 a.m. and University Administration said it has heard student desires for round-the-clock service.

“[Hyde Park] Residents and students have been asking for a 24-hour eatery so we believe [Clarke’s] will meet their direct needs,” University spokesperson Wendy Parks said.

A May 4 press release by Antheus Capital, the property developer for Whole Foods, noted the work of local aldermen in bringing the supermarket to Hyde Park. The release named fifth ward Alderman Leslie Hairston and former fourth ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle as key players in the development. Antheus Capital is also the parent company of MAC Property Management, one of the largest property management companies in Hyde Park.

Whole Foods, which will open at 5105 South Harper Avenue, will offer up to 188 free underground parking spaces, according to a May 5 CBS Chicago article, “Whole Foods Coming To Hyde Park.” The supermarket will also offer a sit-down bar and cooking classroom.

But some students think the new food options will only add to Hyde Park, and will encourage students to venture out of their comfort zone.

“Hyde Park has a lot to offer already, and though some might see this project as a threat to its existing charms, I really just think it will help students become more appreciative of life outside the Reg,” second-year Janel Jin said.

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