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CHICAGO-The city is moving to acquire a vacant lot at 3520 S. Halsted St., located next to a potential redevelopment of the former Ramova Theater. Likewise, the future of a furniture store at 3410 S. Halsted St. will be watched closely by the city’s department of planning and development, which recently gained authority to acquire both properties through eminent domain from the community development commission.

The department of planning and development has fielded two proposals to redevelop the Jazz Age theater building at 3518 S. Halsted St., which the city acquired in 2002. Although neither proposal was acceptable, both developers said they needed the adjacent lot to make their projects work. The most recent proposal to surface is for a bowling alley and restaurant.

“There is interest in the property,” says John Molloy of the department of planning and development. “Without the lot next door, we’re certain development won’t occur, and the Ramova will remain vacant.”

However, developer Charles Pick bought the lot at 3520 S. Halsted St. before the city could. He had hoped to build a three-unit, $1-million condominium project there with first-floor retail space on the lot with prime B3-3 zoning, without tax increment financing assistance, he says, but dropped those plans when he learned of the city’s interest in the property.

“Bridgeport is a real hot real estate market now,” Pick says. However, 11th Ward Alderman James A. Balcer suggests the local condominium market may be overheating. “I don’t need any more residential there,” he adds.

An 80-year-old furniture business operating at 3410 S. Halsted St. is closing, putting the two-story, 11,600-sf building into play.

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