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John McLinden Aims To 'Redefine The Heart Of Wicker Park' With $140M Mixed-Use Redevelopment

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Hubbard Street Group and Centrum Realty & Development announced leases with Target and Salon Lofts within the second phase of the Wicker Park Connection project. It is the latest update to a $140M, multiphase redevelopment of the former Wicker Park Commons site into a mixed-use site featuring apartments, townhomes, retail and restaurants that will bring new residents and retailers to Wicker Park's Polish Triangle.

Wicker Park Connection
A rendering of the open-air plaza that is part of Hubbard Street Group's Wicker Park Connection

The 13K SF Target store at 1644 West Division won formal approval from community groups and will anchor the retail component of Wicker Park Connection's first phase, a 60-unit apartment building. The second phase, a 15-story, 146-unit apartment building, is scheduled to open in June.

What may be the most important component of the redevelopment is Hubbard Street Group's commitment to open space. One-third of the 2.5-acre site is dedicated to open space, including an S-shaped public plaza connecting Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue. To facilitate this, Hubbard Street is moving 170 parking spaces either underground or inside buildings.

Hubbard Street founder John McLinden said Wicker Park Connection will redefine the Polish Triangle for years to come.

"This is the true heart of Wicker Park," McLinden said.

Hubbard Street Partners founder John McLinden
Hubbard Street Partners founder John McLinden

McLinden said dedicating this site to open space was part of a 2009 master plan drafted by the Wicker Park-Bucktown Chamber of Commerce. Hubbard Street took the density it was entitled to and concentrated height to one large tower, allowing it to open up 30K SF for open space.

It also took patience. Centrum sold the retail portion of Wicker Park Commons in 2015 and waited another two-and-half years before it bought out a lease from Kmart, allowing Hubbard Street to turn its parking lot into open space. The changes to Chicago's TOD ordinance, meanwhile, allowed Hubbard Street to conceive of the underground parking idea.

"It is expensive to park underground, but getting the parking off the surface is worth it," McLinden said.

Wicker Park Connection
A rendering of Phase 1 (left) and Phase 2 of Hubbard Street Group's Wicker Park Connection.

McLinden said Hubbard Street will add amenities to the open space to bring the community together, including water jets for kids to play in and public art. McLinden said Hubbard Street is in talks with a couple of restaurant tenants to join Salon Lofts in Phase 2 of Wicker Park Connection.

Phases 3 and 4 will include 17 townhomes and a seven-story condo building.