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CHICAGO-At 50 years old, a tired-looking Lincoln Village is overdue for a makeover. The city’s first shopping center will likely get that next year following a favorable recommendation from the Chicago plan commission.

Two retail buildings set behind an outdoor parking lot along with a former Loew’s Cineplex will be replaced by three freestanding buildings along N. Lincoln Avenue. A Border’s book store will replace the theater and a new 109-unit senior housing building behind the center. A riverwalk also will be added along the frontage of the North Shore Channel.

Construction on the $25-million shopping center makeover, which will boost the retail space from 117,000 sf to 137,000 sf., could begin in January pending city council approval and obtaining necessary permits, says Scott Gendel, managing partner of BPG Lincoln Village LLC. Cost of the senior housing building is about $15 million, Gendel adds.

Meanwhile, the partnership is negotiating a lease extension on the riverwalk area with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. There are 10 years remaining on the lease, Gendel says, and the partnership looks to add 50 years to it.

The project won the support of the Devon North Town Business and Professional Association, Friends of the Chicago River, Peterson Park Improvement Association and Hollywood-North Park Property Owners Association, says 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone. Planning and development department officials say the project will enhance not only the neighborhood, but a stretch of N. Lincoln Avenue.

“We view this as something truly spectacular,” says Stone, forced to abstain from voting on the proposal because he rents office space in Lincoln Village for his 50th Ward and Democratic Party committeeman offices.

Gendel says the retail center, which will include 30 tenants upon completion in September 2002, will be managed by Oak Brook, IL-based Mid-America Real Estate principal David Bossy, a partner in BPG Lincoln Village LLC. “We hope our reputation is such that we’ll do an excellent job maintaining the property,” Gendel says.

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