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CHICAGO-A Popeye’s restaurant at 76th Street and Racine Avenue is set play a larger role in the chicken franchise’s operations. A 2,500-sf outlet will be expanded by 6,000 sf, with the addition to be used as a training facility and test kitchen.

The local franchise’s corporate offices and promotion department, now at 35th Street and King Drive, also will move to the Auburn-Gresham location.

The addition will be built as a result of a sale of city-owned land at 7601-35 S. Racine Ave., a former neighborhood shopping center acquired through foreclosure. The site includes the current Popeye’s restaurant, which has a lease running another 10 years.

The city will sell the land to franchisee Woodrow A. Hall for $143,500, a 65% discount from the appraised value of $405,000. Hall will put up $100,000 of the purchase price, with the remaining $43,500 to be paid over five years, according to the department of planning and development.

The land sale and write-down was recommended for city council approval Tuesday by the community development commission.

The new Popeye’s also will not resemble a typical fast-food operation, promises Hall’s attorney, Demetrius E. Carney. “This is really going to be a family-style, fancy restaurant,” he says. “We’re going to put a blighted piece of property back on the tax rolls.”

A similar property across the street was acquired by the city and turned over to the park district, which has built a 12-lane bowling alley and roller skating rink.

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