Lake Meadows begins new renovation phase
November 2, 2017

The beginning of the second renovation phase of Lake Meadows Shopping Center at 3357 S. King Dr. in Bronzeville, including the first Culvers within Chicago city limits, Taco Bell, T-Mobile, and a UPS store along with an external facelift of existing properties, has drawn aldermanic praise and a watchful nod from a local organization leader.

Fourth Ward Ald. Sophia King said the retail project—renamed Lake Meadows Market by its developer—is a boon to the community.

“The project means that we are making positive gains in attracting the kinds of amenities and services that the community would like to see,” King said. “This makes it easier to attract families and additional businesses and services to our community.”

Lake Meadows Market’s first phase was completed in 2015, kick-starting those services with the addition of a 40,000-square-foot LA Fitness as well as renovated retail space that now houses Athletico, Dunkin Donuts, and Subway.

Roderick Wilson, executive director of the civic engagement-focused Lugenia Burns Hope Center, said he welcomes the redevelopment, with one caveat: he hopes improving the shopping center will not endanger affordable housing in the community.

“We like the commercial development,” Wilson said, noting the promise of additional services and the possibilities for employment. “Even though the demographics of the neighborhood have changed, we don’t want to replace affordable housing. We want people who have been able to live here remain in walking distance of what the development has to offer.”

Gordon Ziegenhagen, vice president of developer Draper and Kramer Inc., said the plan actually includes affordable housing, a requirement of the City ordinance that governs planned developments. The developer plans to renovate 1,274 existing apartments situated in four nearby highrises.

The centerpiece of the second-phase, 11,500 square feet of additional retail space, is the planned fall opening of the city’s first Culver’s restaurant.

Franchisee Baron Waller said he had good reason to launch the first city Culver’s at Lake Meadows Market after establishing three other stores southwest of the city in New Lenox, Lockport, and Joliet.

“I looked around at several locations, but I saw the most potential there,” Wallner said.   He knew the location, having lived for a while 20 years ago in a Lake Meadows residence. He also met his wife there, he noted.

“I was familiar with the area,” he said. “I knew the people. And even though it has become somewhat gentrified, it is a historically African American community that needs services these stores have. It seemed like a good value.”

Waller expects to open the store with about 70 to 75 employees, about 20 more than his other stores because he wants to ensure success.

“We hope the opening of Culver’s will be a different experience for people in Chicago,” he said. “We want to give them a good experience.”

Ziegenhagen said the Lake Meadows Market project “is part of an ongoing wave of real estate development, public infrastructure projects, and economic job growth underway in Bronzeville.”

He said that, in addition to construction jobs, the retail center is expected to create more than 200 jobs.

“The new retail center and restaurants will add to the vibrancy and walkability of the neighborhood, which will in turn appeal to potential residents,” he said.

King echoed the optimism.

“Lake Meadows shares a special place in the history of this community,” she said. “I am encouraged how it is responding more to the wishes of the residents.”

—Rick Romano