Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Crowd Reviews Uptown Proposal

By Lorraine Swanson
Pioneer Press News-Star

More than 100 residents crammed into the Aragon Ballroom lobby on a hot muggy night to hear plans for a proposed development slated for the properties at 4738-50 N. Winthrop Ave. and the southeast corner of Lawrence and Winthrop.
Uptown resident and developer Jim Gouskos, who owns the Kinetic Playground, wants to build a 21-story, mid-rise condominium building on the 4700 block of North Winthrop, and a seven-level parking structure with retail and movie theaters across the street on Lawrence Avenue. Gouskos has already completed a historic building rehab at 1101-1113 W. Lawrence Ave., that houses a Chase Bank.
Plans for the development were first presented two years ago, when Gouskos was granted a zoning change to allow for increased density at the Winthrop property. At that time, plans for the Lawrence Avenue property included a parking structure and one floor of retail, not to exceed 110 feet. With the loss of the movie theaters at the Wilson Yard development, plans have expanded to include a nine-screen movie theater on the fifth, sixth and seventh levels, along with parking for 499 cars. The height of the building will not change.
Gouskos said he wanted the community's input into the type of retail that will be offered at the Lawrence Avenue property. He is shopping for a grocer to lease the ground floor, and a restaurant to lease part of the roof level, overlooking a "green" roof.
"This is my way of making my mark in the world, right here in this area," Gouskos told residents on Aug. 9. "I don't want this to have anything to do with politics, no matter who is alderman, mayor or ward committeeman."
But the evening did take on a political tone, as some residents questioned the logistics of the parking structure, wondering if it were enough to accommodate shoppers and movie-goers, as well as those attending shows at the Aragon, which will reserve 300 parking spaces will be reserved on concert nights.
"Traffic studies have been done and people aren't driving as much. This isn't a destination spot. People will walk or take mass transportation. We know from pre-sales of the condos how many people have bought parking," Gouskos said.
Residents also questioned the viability of the movie theater, since the Kerasotes Theaters planned for Wilson Yard fell through.
"The movie theater will help create critical mass for the retail," said Alderman Helen Shiller, 46th. "What happened to the movie theaters at Wilson Yard, we found a theater company that is comfortable creating theaters in the 1,800 to 2,000 seat range. I completely understand and it was one of the reasons we came to the conclusion that it wasn't viable there."
Gouskos said he has already been approached by the Meadow Theater Group and has a letter of intent.
"They said the numbers work out with the mass transit and density, more than any other theater that they've done," Gouskos said.
Gouskos does not yet own the Lawrence Avenue property, which has been held in escrow to determine if it is eligible for TIF money from the Lawrence-Broadway TIF District. Once the sale is finalized, the proposed planned development will go before the city's Community Development Commission. The commission will review the plans and recommend action to the City Council, including TIF financing for the Lawrence Avenue property.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in Spring 2008, and will take about 18 months to complete both structures, Gouskos said.


  1. I just tried googling "Meadow Theater Group" and came up with nothing. Does anybody have any info on these guys?

    All said though, this sounds awfully exciting! Just hope Shiller doesn't try to use this positive development as some sort of defense/justification for the inevitable news of no Target at Wilson Yards. Assuming we are left with public/subsidized housing and nothing else there, it seems like that whole southern portion of Uptown is getting left behind. Around Lawrence seems to be the hotbed of activity. Well, at least Shiller can't put up public housing in Graceland cemetary, so I guess there's some partial protection there! :)

  2. Meadow Theater Group

    If you were at the meeting this would be their only theater. They retired to Florida after selling a chain per Jim and now want to get back in the business.

    Which we questioned how they could get first run movies etc?

    The theaters probably won't come and if they do this one theater operator would have a hard time making in the business.

    I am very the development but I think there was a lot of promises they can't deliver on.

  3. He had mentioned the Meadow Theater Group as being from Florida (I believe). A search of the FLA secretary of state's office came up with one listing that matched this name:

    Florida Limited Liability Company
    Filing Information
    Document Number L05000014751
    FEI Number APPLIED
    Date Filed 02/14/2005
    State FL
    Status ACTIVE
    Effective Date 02/12/2005
    Event Date Filed 10/13/2006
    Event Effective Date NONE

    Principal Address
    LAKE WORTH FL 33467
    Mailing Address
    LAKE WORTH FL 33467
    Registered Agent Name & Address
    LAKE WORTH FL 33467 US
    Address Changed: 10/13/2006
    Manager/Member Detail
    Name & Address
    Title MGR
    LAKE WORTH FL 33467
    Title MGR
    LAKE WORTH FL 33467
    Annual Reports
    Report Year Filed Date
    2006 10/13/2006
    2007 07/27/2007

    Document Images
    07/27/2007 -- ANNUAL REPORT
    10/13/2006 -- REINSTATEMENT
    02/14/2005 -- Florida Limited Liability

  4. They live in a fairly decent residential community in Lake Worth, not in the bad part.

    I used to live in Florda in that areas of South Florida there are lot of fast talking scammers there. I am sure these people aren't though I am just making a point.

  5. I agree -R, someone who successfully built and sold a movie theater franchise, could not possibly figure out how to build another one, I am sure the first time was a fluke......

  6. What part of "STAND ALONE MOVIE THEATERS" don't make money and can't compete for first run movies do you not understand?
    What part of "WHO WOULD RETIRE TO FLORIDA" and move to Uptown Chicago for their first solo venture to get back in the business. With all the competition here.

    Don't you think the big theater operators know something this guy doesn't since they didn't sign on.

    Also do you have proof other than Jimbo saying they owned theaters and sold them? Tell me what theaters and where?

    Anyone can form a LLC.

    Show me the proof, show me the proposal unitl then I am being realistic it's all fluff.

    Do I belive a grocery store would take the ground floor? YES Would CVS take the ground floor? YES

    You would have a better chance with a XXX theater there. Now that would be a money maker.