“There was a time when the Six Corners commercial district in Portage Park was a real community nexus. It was where you went for shopping big and small, for shows at the Portage Theater and for business such as medical appointments. It laid claim to being the busiest retail stretch in the city outside of downtown.
“Today — not so much. The place where Irving Park Road, Cicero and Milwaukee avenues converge looks more like a patient awaiting a heart transplant. Prime sites are vacant or unused, although plenty of traffic still flows by — 70,000 cars a day by one consultant’s count. They’re just headed somewhere else for the most part.
“What’s the problem? Three come to mind: First, there’s the coronavirus and its chilling effect on everything economic. It’s made it harder for even well-capitalized investors to move forward with real estate projects. Second, and maybe more important for the long term, is the identity crisis facing the retail sector. Do we need as many stores in the age of online shopping? Finally, there’s the old bugaboo of political tensions.
“Exhibit A for the ailing Six Corners is the old Sears store at the northeast corner of Irving Park and Cicero. Opened in 1938 to what Sears archives said was a crowd of almost 100,000 people, it was the retailer’s last outlet in Chicago when the store closed in 2018. It had been in the hands of Seritage Growth Properties, investor Eddie Lampert’s vehicle for making money from Sears’ real estate.
“With Chicago-based Tucker Development, it cooked up a plan to convert the building to a retail arcade on the lower levels with homes above it, plus more multi-family homes next door to replace an old Sears Auto Center.
“It got positive reviews from neighbors and a sign off from Portage Park’s alderman, Jim Gardiner (45th). But Seritage has been selling assets because the coronavirus has hurt its rent collections across its national portfolio. So why not sell a parcel producing zero income?
“Gardiner said on social media that Seritage and Tucker sold the site to Chicago’s Novak Construction. Novak deals in big-box stores and traditional shopping plazas, not multi-use projects, so there’s concern about a change in plans.
“‘They haven’t come up with any plans,’ said Joe Angelastri, chairman of the recently formed Six Corners Chamber of Commerce and owner of the City Newsstand coffee shop and magazine store. ‘We heard rumors they want to demolish the building.'” (Roeder, 10/26/20)
Preservation Chicago would like to see the Six-Corners Sears Store designated as a Chicago Landmark which would provide protections to the two principal facades.
Virus and retailers’ hardship challenge Six Corners comeback, An uncertain fate for the Sears site is one of several concerns facing the Portage Park commercial hub, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/26/90