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Ex-Uber CEO Eyes Old Carpet Building In West Town For New ‘Cloud Kitchens’ Startup

Up to 40 commercial kitchens would prepare meals in the building for delivery-only restaurants.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wants to bring a shared commercial kitchen for delivery-only restaurants to this West Town building at 2041-2059 W. Race Ave. [Building/Alisa Hauser; Kalanick/Twitter]
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WEST TOWN — A carpet warehouse that was initially going to be demolished and replaced with single-family homes could instead become a commercial kitchen for up to 40 delivery-only restaurants led by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. 

Kathleen Oskandy, chief of staff for Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), confirmed on Thursday that Maldonado met with a representative from Cloud Kitchens but has not decided yet whether he will support the plan. 

“That proposal is under community review. The Alderman will support the recommendations of WTNA [the West Town Neighbors Association]. We have not yet received their final recommendations,” Oksandy said.

Kalanick’s new startup Cloud Kitchens is an arm of City Storage Systems, which focuses on re-purposing distressed real estate assets and turning them into spaces suited for new industries.

Cloud Kitchens is headquartered in Los Angeles and, according to its website, plans future “coming soon” locations in San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

A representative from Cloud Kitchens and Kalanick did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

Located at 2041-2059 W. Race St., the building has sat empty since 2016, when American Carpet Distributors relocated to Park Ridge. Guardian Capital Partners planned to build homes there, but that never transpired.

Ed Simon, owner of the building, confirmed on Thursday that the sale to Guardian Capital never went through, so the building— at the southeast corner of Hoyne and Race Avenues—  is still for sale. Simon declined to talk about potential new buyers. 

The plan to convert the century-old building into a commercial kitchen would require a zoning change, from existing RS-3 to B3-3.  

The former American Carpet Distributors site.

According to an email sent to members of the West Town Neighborhood Association, the building, if it were to become a site for Cloud Kitchens, would house 40 commercial kitchens. The pick-up location for food deliveries would ideally take place on Race Avenue, or through an alley that runs behind the building.

Liz Tomka, president of the West Town Neighbors Association, said the neighborhood group’s planning and development subcommittee is arranging a time to meet with the developers soon, after which a larger community meeting will be announced in late July or August.

“They said they would like to move quickly,” Tomka said, adding that the group will not have a statement on what they think about the planned use of the building until they’ve held a community meeting.

The developer is Cloud Kitchens and City Storage Systems, according to Tomka.

Kalanick helped found Uber in 2009, but resigned last year amid a cloud of crises that rocked the ride-sharing company, including sexual harassment and discrimination. Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.8 billion.