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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Prominent Downtown Developer Buys Uptown’s City Sports Building, Hints At Its ‘Shining Future’

One of the city's biggest developers has bought the City Sports building at 4601 N. Broadway, but the firm isn't sharing its plans yet.

The John Buck Companies has bought the building at Wilson Avenue and Broadway.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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UPTOWN — A Chicago development firm bought the City Sports building at Wilson Avenue and Broadway, reviving plans for a large-scale redevelopment of the prominent Uptown location.

The John Buck Company, known primarily as a developer of Loop-area apartment and office towers, bought the retail building at 4601 N. Broadway in February, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. It is not known how much the firm paid for the building but it did take out a $4 million mortgage to finance the deal, county records show.

The building long has been eyed for an overhaul.

In 2016, Praedium Development proposed replacing the one-story building with an 11-story structure containing ground floor retail space and 197 apartments. The plan was modified to include a nine-story building with 44 parking spaces and a rooftop patio.

It received zoning approval from the city the following year, but some Uptown residents opposed the project. Housing advocates said the developers had a track record of failing to complete projects.

Praedium and its partners abandoned its plans and did not buy the property.

Credit: Facebook/MX3 Architects
Previous renderings of the development proposed for 4601 N. Broadway. [Facebook/MX3 Architects]

Now, one of the city’s biggest development firms is stepping in.

The John Buck Company only is seeking minor changes to the previously approved development plan, including altering the exits and entrances for the building, said Tressa Feher, chief of staff for Ald. James Cappleman (46th). Those changes are being reviewed by the Department of Planning and Development.

The company previously sought to demolish the existing building this summer, but a moratorium on demolitions due to a disastrous Little Village implosion in April has caused the Uptown project’s timeline to be altered.

Barbara Hickey, vice president at John Buck, said the company is working on final plans and is following the city’s best practices for development projects during the pandemic.

Free Market Ventures, a real estate investment firm, is partnering with John Buck on the project, according to its website.

“We’re giving a neighborhood with a glittering past a shining future,” the website states. “… the building is sure to play a role in growing the community for years to come.”

The planned development document for the building restricts any new structure on the site to a maximum of 103 feet and 197 units.

Tenants of the existing building have been readying for its redevelopment. City Sports, a longtime tenant, is moving to the McJunkin Building at 4520 N. Broadway, according to Uptown Update.

Wilson Optical, which used to inhabit the building, is now at 4553 N. Magnolia Ave. A Family Dollar and Rainbow clothing store that were in the retail complex have closed.

Several recent development projects and proposals center around the Wilson and Broadway corner.

Prolific Uptown developer Cedar Street is working to turn the former Wilson Theater into the new home of the Double Door, complete with a neighboring 110-unit apartment complex.

The John Buck development at Wilson and Broadway would neighbor the overhauled Wilson Red Line station, which includes a renovated Gerber Building slated to house a grocery co-op.

Other developments from John Buck include a new 35-story tower at 151 N. Franklin St. The firm is also constructing 845 housing units in a massive West Loop development project.

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