LINCOLN SQUARE — Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) is asking developers who want to tear down the home of Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe to go back to the drawing board.
Grand Properties Acquisitions LLC aims to tear down the two-story building at 5155-5159 N. Lincoln Ave. and build a five-story apartment complex with ground-floor retail in its place. The developers need a zoning change to move forward with the plans.
The building is currently home to Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe, a popular New York-style pizza shop that’s served Lincoln Square since 2011, and a few other businesses. These businesses would have to move once demolition began, and business owners said they never got a proper heads up about plans to tear down the building.
“We decided to go back to the table and talk to the developers to see what else we could do to try and figure out a potential solution for Jimmy’s,” Vasques said. “Because here’s the thing, if they’re gonna tear it down and develop it, there’s no way Jimmy’s could stay there.”
Jimmy Kang, owner of Jimmy’s Pizza, and Jose Mejia, chef at La Cabana De Don Luis, both learned of the plan to tear down the building from Block Club last month.
“I think it was really unfortunate the owner of Jimmy’s didn’t get a heads up from the person selling the building and that he had to learn about the demolition plans from the Block Club article,” Vasquez (40th) said. “That, plus all the feedback we got from neighbors, is why we asked the developer to go back to the table and talk with the business owners.”
Vasquez hopes the developer can figure out a potential solution with Jimmy’s so the pizza place can stay in the area regardless of the demolition plans.
“We’ve already reached out to connect Jimmy’s to the chambers of commerce in the area to see if there’s a place he can relocate nearby,” Vasquez said. “And we’re talking to the building’s new owner to see if there’s something they could do, like a first right of refusal or something. We want to go out of our way to try to figure out what could happen so we keep Jimmy’s in the neighborhood.”
The original proposal included 40 apartments, ground-floor retail space at the corner, two designated affordable work-live storefront units and parking for 20 cars.
Four of the apartments would have been designated affordable as mandated by the city’s housing rules. The two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot apartments would rent for an average of $2,000 per month.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.