Walgreens to open soon; DePaul Music School on the way

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The new Walgreens store at Armitage and Dayton is near completion and will open on May 8.  The construction of this new store has taken some time and been the source of some controversy.  Because this property was previously occupied by a church, it was not included in the Armitage-Halsted Chicago Landmark District and consequently, the demolition of the prior building and the construction of the new building were not subject to the rules for construction in a landmark district. 

Upon its opening, this Walgreens will not sell liquor.  As a result of discussions with 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith’s office, Walgreens has agreed to enter into an Operations Agreement.  The Sheffield Neighborhood Association will act as signatory on this agreement as a representative of the community, provided the terms of the agreement are satisfactory. 

The draft Operating Agreement includes provisions regarding the place and time of deliveries to the store, requiring that deliveries be made at the rear of the store in the loading area, that no delivery trucks exceed 28 feet in length, that no weekday deliveries be made before 9 am or after 5 pm, that weekend deliveries be limited to three trucks for fresh items between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm, that delivery trucks enter on Dayton Street heading north from Armitage, and that they turn west into the loading area and exit going west in the alley to Fremont Street. 

The Operations Agreement also provides for store hours from 7 am to 10 pm daily with extended hours to midnight between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It provides for monitoring the area around the store, responsibility for picking up trash, and an audio/visual system to monitor loading.  Walgreens has proposed banners for signage in place of the blade signage originally proposed.  The exact appearance of the banners is still under discussion.  In addition, there are several other details in need of resolution before the Operations Agreement will be finalized.  On April 28, members of SNA and other neighborhood groups met with Ald. Smith and Walgreens representatives to discuss the banners and other concerns, including the amount of light that will come from the store at night. Also on the agenda were maintenance of the plantings around replacement trees and the possibility of a trash basket being placed in front of the store. More discussions between the Alderman’s office, the SNA, and neighbors and Walgreens are anticipated.

DePaul to break ground

Meanwhile, DePaul University has begun applying for permits for preliminary work related to the construction of its new School of Music.  Under the terms of the last DePaul Master Plan, work on the new Music School was to begin shortly after the completion of the new Theater School.  It is to be located at the east end of campus along Halsted between Belden and Fullerton. While there is no date yet for groundbreaking, it appears that the school may be under construction sometime next year.  The present McGaw Hall will be demolished for the construction of a new building with a large recital hall, a somewhat smaller recital hall, smaller performance rooms, and a variety of other facilities geared to music education.  The present Concert Hall (the old chapel) will be gutted and turned into a performance venue for opera.  The north building will be renovated for offices, classrooms, and other uses.  There will be below-grade parking accessible from Halsted Street.  Before work begins, there will be further opportunity for the community to be informed of the details and to provide input as to the construction process.

Finkl site's future

Finally, look for more activity regarding the future of the Finkl Steel site in the near future.  The North River Works review process is moving forward and another public meeting will be announced soon for the presentation of the results of the study that is taking place regarding the future of this area along the river.

Ted Wrobleski chairs SNA’s Planning Committee.