The vacant building at 2211 E. 71st St. The city's planning department wants to redevelop the building and an adjacent vacant lot. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

SOUTH SHORE — City officials want to redevelop a vacant building and an empty lot at 71st Street and Paxton Avenue, and they’re asking the alderperson and residents for input on what businesses the community needs most.

The Department of Planning and Development wants to overhaul the lot at 2201 E. 71st St. and the building at 2211 E. 71st St., project coordinator Martin Sorge said at Ald. Leslie Hairston’s (5th) ward meeting Tuesday.

The project is part of a plan to redevelop “small and medium-sized vacant properties and vacant buildings” on a few neighborhood business strips citywide, Sorge said. That plan, which includes 71st Street, is in a “really early phase,” he said.

The most popular suggestions at the ward meeting included a home improvement or hardware store; a post office, FedEx or UPS store; space for health and wellness services; a dine-in restaurant; and an Amazon drop-off center.

Residents at the meeting said they did not want to see a fast food joint, an athletic clothing outlet or a liquor store come to the lots.

Majani owner Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel said he was interested in buying the properties so he could move his vegan restaurant from its location at 7167 S. Exchange Ave. and add outdoor seating.

Residents’ input will be combined with existing plans for South Shore and the 71st Street corridor to determine what the project will include, Sorge said.

The city should prioritize businesses and services that would keep South Shore residents’ spending within the community, Hairston said.

“Right now, we have to travel outside [the neighborhood] to get a lot of things,” Hairston said.

Residents can send suggestions for the site to City officials will return to update residents on the project, possibly at the next ward meeting July 26, Hairston said.

The vacant lot at 2201 E. 71st St. and the vacant building at 2211 E. 71st St. (in background, with “for sale” sign). Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

UHaul also shared plans to add two stories to its South Shore building, while developers previewed plans to build a 14-unit apartment building on a vacant Woodlawn lot.

UHaul wants to expand its shop at 1650 E. 71st St. to add two floors and nearly quintuple the number of available self-storage rooms to rent, said Rocc Bolden, the company’s Illinois president.

The project would not extend the building’s footprint and would bring about 15 more jobs to the store, Bolden said.

A rendering of the proposed UHaul expansion at 1650 E. 71st. St. in South Shore, with the existing building shown inset. Credit: Provided

Developers shared plans to build a four-story, 14-unit apartment building on a vacant, privately owned lot at 6521 S. Blackstone Ave. in Woodlawn.

The units will be two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments. Rents will be market rate, with at least three or four subsidized apartments, said Lisa Pilot, of D.O.M. Properties Investment.

The apartment plans do not include a rooftop deck, as the owner is concerned about potential liabilities from parties on the roof, real estate lawyer John Hanna said.

Hairston praised the development for adding to the ward’s housing stock, but she urged the developers to consider adding a rooftop deck.

“When we look at development on the North Side versus development on South Side — in order to maintain and attract residents, we have to offer some of the same amenities,” Hairston said.

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